The US Postal Service has a secret digital multichannel advertising program hiding in plain sight incorporated into it's USPS Informed Delivery service.
Informed Delivery is a service that shows you scans of the actual mail pieces hitting your box in today's delivery, offered in an online portal and in a daily email.
If you haven't heard of or signed up for it, you're in the majority. As of this report from the post office says, only about 16% of US households that have registered for online portal access , and only 12% of households have signed up for the daily email.
Now I'm not normally a B2C guy, but if you are, I'm going to tell you why if you market to consumers, you should tell everyone you know to sign up for informed delivery.
Because the Post office has embedded a trackable digital advertising tool into the program. And (as of now), there's absolutely no cost to use it.
This video describes the basics of how it works, and some of the coolest features of the digital program.
Here are are some possible online-offline marketing plays you can use this for:
Every Door Direct Mail: Since EDDM is based on geography and not your own list, this is an opportunity to augment your offer designed to generate foot traffic with an interactive campaign to identify those local prospects with specific interest.
Specific Mailing Lists Because this technology is based on the unique fingerprint of each mailpiece, you can actually track the specific online responses of individuals on your mailing list. There's also the ability to do a form of campaign testing of different calls to action.
Remember, this is only available for households at this point, so its really only appropriate for B2C, or B2B where you are communicating with the client at their home address.
If you want to find out more on how to use this as an advertiser, here's some links:
A Presentation on the features of the interactive campaign program
Spreadsheet on the number of households signed up for informed delivery by geography.
All this said, however, I've reviewed the Post Office's documentation on how you're supposed to execute these programs, and let's just say it's a little rough. Among the things that they describe in the 30 pages of instructions is how to set up excel spreadsheets to upload your campaigns. Ugh.
And that of course has presented an opportunity for first movers. I looked at a very interesting service called Direct Mail 2.0 which is pitched at agencies, but I expect that larger direct mailers would be interested in it as well. It takes out a lot of the post office's clunkiness with managing campaigns and adds in other goodies like facebook ad integration.
Sign up as a consumer for informed delivery here: https://informeddelivery.usps.com