The Postal Service made a significant change to Informed Delivery in the past few months which may change how mailers approach their ID ads. The new feature assigns a unique identifier to the web address (URL) for every Ride-Along ad which now allows for personalized content on the destination webpage. This enhancement may make Ride-Along ads and their attendant clicks more important.
Click-through rates have tended to be low on Informed Delivery ads. The real focus of ID has been additional impressions and branding. This new feature heightens the importance of clicks by dramatically increasing conversion rates. We can foresee marketers tilting their ads to push harder for an elevated click-through rate.
Let’s get back to some Informed Delivery basics to explain the mechanics. Every Informed Delivery Campaign is required to include a web link that consumers can reach by clicking on the Ride-Along ad. The Ride-Along ad is the image that appears under the image of the mail piece, or the image that replaces it. When a mailer creates a campaign, they are required to associate a URL with it – the consumer destination when they click on the ad. Some mailers simply use their corporate URL (for example, www.SnailWorks.com), while others may use a specific destination page that relates to the campaign (for example, https://snailworks.com/Ext/informed_delivery.aspx ). Up until now, at the time of the click your web visitor was anonymous – you could not tell who clicked, all clickers saw the same web page. After the fact, you may be able to identify clickers in post-campaign detail reporting, but that is not real-time.
With the new feature, the Informed-Delivery program will automatically append parts of the Intelligent Mail barcode (IMb) to the end of the URL when it is clicked. Specifically, it is the Mailer ID and Serial Number which are embedded in the barcode. These numbers make each URL unique and thus identify the clicker. With the proper programming, the site visitor can be identified, counted, and the destination page can be customized for each visitor. So, if I visit a music magazine page, it may say “Hi, Dave!”, and have a picture of a guitar, and someone else may get “Hi, Fred!”, and a picture of a saxophone, assuming Fred is identified as a saxophone owner in the list. And the associated order page may be prepopulated with our name and address, waiting only for a credit card number.
This is the same functionality as a PURL – Personalized URL. You can tailor your message to an individual prospect or segment and make it easier to respond, methods of improving conversion rates. Plus, the real-time intelligence gained by knowing when they visit allows you to coordinate follow-up. You can’t always tell when a prospect is reading the mail piece you sent, but you can know exactly when they clicked your ride-along ad.
The mechanics from the campaign perspective are simple with USPS – they are already appending the extra detail to your UR unless you specifically ask them not to. Capitalizing on this extra detail and putting it to use can be more difficult –this is another place where SnailWorks can be helpful. When the click comes in, it needs to be matched to the original mailing data to identify the individual responding, and they need to be directed to the appropriate page. If personalization is required, that data also needs to be extracted from the record and applied to the web landing page. Oh, and while we’re there we need to count the hit as well. And all of this in a fraction of a second so it is seamless to the prospect. Typically, this process includes SnailWorks programming and hosting the web landing page. If you need to host your own page, for example for an ecommerce site, we can simply pass the request through a “ghost” page while capturing and appending data. Again, all of this is invisible to the consumer. They click on your ride-along ad, and they go to your page.
It all may sound complicated, but this is what SnailWorks does – we make it simple.
To our mind, this capability changes our outlook on Informed Delivery clicks. We have always believed that ride-along clicks were just the icing on the Informed Delivery cake. With personalization and real-time click reporting, the click takes on greater importance as it can become a stronger element of an omnichannel campaign. What can you do to boost the click-through rate on your ID campaigns? Consider strong offers in representative images. Promote special offers only available to clickers. Offer a special discount code for clickers, when used in combination with the mail piece.
Informed Delivery remains a powerful tool for boosting the value of your direct mail. New features like this one will continue to appear, and SnailWorks is poised to help our clients get the most out of every feature.