Personalization Inspiration from the USPS
For folks in the U.S., the United States Postal Service offers a fantastic tool for previewing your mail called Informed Delivery.
Informed Delivery is a service that sends a daily email summarizing incoming U.S. mail and packages handled by USPS (the United States Postal Service). This is handy for knowing what to expect in the day's mail delivery or for tracking packages.
This is a free service that almost any U.S. address can take advantage of - and it's also a genius digital marketing program by USPS. If you thought Informed Delivery was just an information service, think again. There are some unique personalization, analytics, and marketing tactics behind Informed Delivery that should be studied by those in the digital marketing space.
A Typical Example
The daily Informed Delivery email is simple: today's date and black-and-white scans of a user's incoming mail. An example (click for a larger size):
The Ingredients of Great Digital Marketing
The Informed Delivery emails provide the ingredients that make up an effective, high-quality email marketing campaign:
Provides value to the user
There's no begging or annoying newsletter pop-ups on USPS.com. In this case, the newsletter is of obvious value to those who want it and will likely seek it out themselves. By providing something of direct value to users - a daily preview of their incoming mail - Informed Delivery is an easy conversion point for USPS. By signing up, users are clearly and expressly giving their personal contact information (an email address) that will kick off a regular marketing and personalization journey.
High likelihood of interaction
Once signed up, users receive an email once a day summarizing their incoming mail. This provides a reliable and regular interaction point for content. Users will likely open their Informed Delivery email at least once every day. That's guaranteed eyeballs that's hard to come by with most email marketing campaigns.
Content is relevant to users
Users know what to expect from Informed Delivery - scans of their incoming mail - making it highly relevant to their interests. Because mail is automatically scanned and documented, USPS knows what content you're expecting and uses this to generate ads right in the Informed Delivery email.
Low-interference ads that stand out
Business both big and small can buy ads inside Informed Delivery emails by having keywords matched to mail envelope content. Ads are noticeable too: as where mail scans are medium-resolution black-and-white images, ads placed next to them are full-color digital banners.
One example: I get semi-monthly mailings from outdoor retailer REI, and occasionally get a full-color banner ad (below the envelope scan) for discounts that link directly to REI.com. I almost always click it to see what's on offer.
More importantly, while these ads are immediately noticeable, they do not impact or negatively affect the usefulness of the Informed Delivery email. Users can still quickly see their incoming mail while choosing to interact with those ads.
Do you have questions, comments, or corrections for this post? Find me on Twitter: @BrandonMBruno