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Using Informed Visibility to Track USPS Mail

Written By Amber Breeden

March 28, 2022

Critics of direct mail marketing often point to two primary challenges: measuring it effectively and integrating it as part of a multichannel campaign. These are fair critiques, but they are not insurmountable. We’ve talked about ways to track and measure direct mail in previous blog posts. In today’s post, we’re going to focus on the integration issue.

Direct mail’s strength (being an analog channel that can break through the clutter of a digitally saturated marketing world) also makes it challenging to integrate it into a larger multichannel strategy. With email, social media, and SMS, the action all takes place digitally, and it’s easy to measure opens, clicks, follows, and shares. Direct mail happens in the real world, with all its messy uncertainty. But what if you knew when a piece of direct mail was delivered, just like you do with email? You could then use that information to trigger the next communication in the marketing sequence.

You can easily obtain this type of tracking information with carriers like FedEx or UPS, but you’ll pay a hefty premium to do so. That kind of investment is not usually in the budget for marketing teams that are sending thousands of pieces of direct mail. Luckily, in 2018, the United States Postal Service (USPS) introduced Informed Visibility®.

What is Informed Visibility?

Informed Visibility Mail Tracking & Reporting is a service available to commercial mailers who are sending domestic, barcoded mail. It provides near real-time mail tracking and deliverability information using the data from the Intelligent Mail Barcode (IMb). Intelligent Mail relies on actual physical scans, which as you can imagine, leaves gaps in the deliverability information. Informed Visibility extrapolates the information from actual scans to create assumed scans and Logical Delivery Events (LDEs) that greatly expand your visibility on direct mail tracking and delivery.

We track every piece of domestic, barcoded mail we send using Informed Visibility, so we’ve seen a lot of delivery data. Here are two key things we’ve learned along the way:

  1. While USPS provides a wealth of information in their data feeds, what you get back is raw data. If you’re feeding this data back into a system, like a marketing automation platform, this is probably not a big deal. But if you want to see your delivery tracking information in a digestible summary report, you’ll need to use a third-party service. We offer Track N Trace®, which we talked about in a previous blog post, for this purpose for an additional fee.
  2. Informed Visibility isn’t perfect. While it provides far more insight into deliverability than Intelligent Mail, the tracking percentage varies. On average, we usually see that around 90% of all mail pieces receive a delivery scan. That doesn’t mean the other 10% weren’t delivered—it just means they weren’t scanned. 

Leveraging Informed Visibility for Automated Direct Mail

Now that you understand what Informed Visibility is and how it works, let’s talk about how you can use this data as a communication trigger in your automated campaigns. In a marketing automation platform, such as Marketo Engage, you need a data point or event on which to trigger a communication action. In an all-digital campaign, this is pretty simple. But when you introduce direct mail into the mix, things can come to a screeching halt if you don’t have a feedback loop sending the direct mail tracking information back into the system.

That’s where Informed Visibility comes in. As long as you are sending domestic, barcoded mail, we will receive a data feed with Informed Visibility tracking for your mailing. By integrating your marketing automation platform with Banjo Pro, our workflow management tool, that data can flow right back into your system so you know exactly who has received which piece of direct mail and when. Granted, you may not see delivery results for 100% of your recipients, but you’re still likely to get that information for around 90%. And that means you can target those people with a follow-up email or phone call knowing they’ve received the direct mail, continuing along your marketing merry way.

Interested in using Informed Visibility for your next campaign, or want to learn more about integrating with Banjo Pro? Drop us a line, and our team will be in touch.