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USPS Adds Ecommerce Component to Direct Mail

The USPS is testing a new feature to engage consumers through mobile devices and make snail-mail marketing more attractive to retail marketers. The revelation came from Postmaster General Megan Brennan in a keynote speech at the National Postal Forum on Monday.

The project, known as real mail notification, is being piloted in Northern Virginia and enables customers to use a mobile device to see what’s arriving in their physical mailbox – but it goes beyond being a simple alerting service. The USPS wants to engage recipients who sign up for the service, and Brennan shared the Postal Service’s vision in her speech.

“We’ve become a device-oriented culture, with laptops, tablets, smartphones and now even watches providing digital and mobile experiences in every aspect of our lives,” she said. “The good news is that our industry has a big role to play in that digital future.”

Mail can serve as a powerful complement to digital marketing campaigns and play a more prominent role in multi-channel marketing efforts, she said:

If you see that you’re receiving a mailpiece from a favorite retailer, you can click on that piece for an additional offer that drives you to open that mail when you get home. Or, you might jump directly to a transaction. In either event, the physical mailpiece draws you into the interactive experience.

Brennan said that the current pilot test generated a high level of digital engagement, with nine out of 10 people who participated in the pilot checking to see what’s in their mail every day. “This is unprecedented,” she said. “This digital platform we’re creating has the potential to be a game-changer for the sender of mail.”

The pilot test will be expanded to New York City later this year.

Brennan also said she is committed to needed investments in the Postal Service’s infrastructure, workforce and technology. “We’re especially committed to investing in innovation to spur growth and profitability in this industry.”

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.