Part II: Decoding the Intelligent Mail Barcode
In part one of this feature, published last month, postal experts reflected on the rules and challenges marketers face when implementing the U.S. Postal Service's new Intelligent Mail Barcode (IMB) system. From that discussion, experts agreed that full service was a more attractive option than basic service and implementing IMB before the May 2011 deadline could take anywhere from a couple of months to two years, depending on your organization's existing IT infrastructure.
Looking past all of the requirements and technicalities, the creative benefits of Intelligent Mail are great, promising to improve tracking, measurability, list hygiene and cross-channel marketing. Here's a peek into some of the best practices and approaches the mail industry is taking.
Make Mail More Malleable
With full-service IMBs, each piece of mail will have an electronic trail of information tracking it from the mail preparer to the delivery point. Many mailers and mail suppliers have been preemptively leveraging data using the POSTNET barcode and costly USPS Confirm Service to track their mailings and analyze campaign data. However, full-service IMBs are an improvement over this method because they are universal and house data about the mail owner, mail piece, recipient and delivery through the postal system.
IM's digital reporting capability gets even more exciting when marketers sync up this data with customer relationship management, e-mail and other automated systems. "With the visibility in the mail, you can tie campaigns together to understand when to either precede or follow up with e-mail, or when to time release of TV, radio or newspaper advertisements," describes Thomas Day, senior vice president of Intelligent Mail and address quality for the USPS.
For those with fulfillment processes tied to the back end of a campaign, he says the ability to anticipate high order volumes and staff fulfillment centers accordingly greatly improves campaign performance.