Businesses continue to communicate with their customers through the mail, and more companies are using technology to make their mailpieces more effective, PMG Pat Donahoe told industry leaders this week.
“Mail is proving to be an especially resilient marketing channel, and its value to America’s businesses is increasing,” Donahoe said.
The PMG spoke in Salt Lake City, UT, during National Postal Customer Council (PCC) Week. The annual event showcases PCCs, local groups that bring business mailers and postal representatives together to promote the value of mail.
The PMG also visited the Bountiful, UT, Post Office and spoke to employees during his visit.
Donahoe said more mailpieces now come with QR codes, which consumers can scan with their smartphones to visit websites that offer more details about the product being advertised.
“When you combine these important technology-driven changes with some of the strength we’re starting to see in the economy, there are a lot of reasons to be optimistic about mail’s role in America’s marketing mix,” the PMG said.
Like its customers, the Postal Service is also using more technology to become more effective, Donahoe said. One example: USPS is investing in geo-fencing, which creates a digital address for every delivery point in the nation.
The Postal Service also is improving mail processing and delivery and retail operations and investing more in its package business, the PMG said.
Transcript of the PMG’s remarks:
Thank you for joining us today, and thank you for being part of your local Postal Customer Council.
Your involvement in the PCC network helps us understand your business needs and how we can serve you better.
We hope you have really productive meetings with your local postal executives and that you’re able to discuss specific ways that we can help your business.
There’s a lot to talk about today.
As an industry, we’re probably experiencing more challenges and opportunities than we ever have. That’s why it’s so important for us all to be on the same page in terms of strategies that can help grow your business and our industry.
As we look across the business landscape, we’re seeing a lot of changes in practically every direction — most of it is being driven by digital technologies.
We have to do more than keep pace.
We have to take advantage of opportunities to shape our future.
Technology adoption is the key.
You can look across the whole spectrum of our industry and see that nearly every aspect is evolving due to technology adoption.
That goes for the technologies embedded in mail pieces that enable interactions with smart devices, to technologies that enable dynamic routing and better delivery services.
We see tremendous examples of companies using mail more effectively as a result of using data and technology better.
You’re getting rich data from your mailings.
What’s new is integrating and combining that data with the data that you’re getting from other marketing channels — especially digital.
So, if you’re reaching customers from multiple marketing channels, you’re now better able to optimize every interaction.
You’ve heard us preach for years about the power of integrated marketing campaigns and making sure that mail is part of the marketing mix.
When you marry that digital data with the mailing data, that increases the return on your mailing investment and makes mail a much more important part of the marketing mix.
This is especially true when you can target and personalize content, and then learn and optimize from the response.
It all adds up to mail becoming a much more effective channel.
And that’s very exciting for this industry.
It doesn’t really matter if you’re the Chief Marketing Officer of a national retailer, or the owner of a pizza shop in a college town — you’re a marketer who is making decisions about how to reach customers and drive traffic to your
And every marketer should be taking a fresh look at mail.
These changes are starting to have a positive impact on the way marketers look at mail — and we have to build some momentum about how mail is changing.
As an industry, we have to be aware of these technology changes and take advantage of them.
The Postal Service is doing everything that it can to create a more technology-centric delivery platform.
We know that’s a key to your growth and the growth of the industry.
We’re geo-fencing every address in America — this creates a digital signature for every delivery location.
We’re also giving our letter carriers robust mobile devices.
When you combine these two technologies, it enables us to provide great new services to consumers. It also enables us to provide really rich data to mailers and shippers — so you can know exactly when your pieces arrive.
The data associated with the intelligent mail barcode is tremendous in a lot ways. It makes your mailings transparent within our system. One of the most impressive things about IMB is that it enables senders to integrate a lot of different data and build very effective models.
It’s all about making sure we’re evolving our offerings as quickly as we can.
Everywhere you look, you see rapid changes in the way the average American consumes information.
These changes are going to continue.
If you’re a marketer, these changes in the media landscape can be unsettling. The ways you have to reach customers can be much more complicated…and in some respects, more uncertain.
This is a dynamic that is fundamentally good for mail.
Certainty… reliability… effectiveness — these are all traits of mail that are becoming more prized in a chaotic landscape.
We’re already combining the certainty and reliability and effectiveness of mail with digital and social channels — and some of these strategies are really powerful. And they have the potential to become much more powerful in the future.
The use of data and technology pulls it all together.
All of this is leading to a reappraisal of mail’s role in the marketing mix. We need to work together as an industry to give this reappraisal a boost.
The Postal Service is focused on enabling greater change in the industry and quicker adoption of best practices.
Over this past year, we’ve focused on four key ideas:
First, we need to leverage data and analytics to make mail more personally relevant.
We are gaining a much stronger ability to understand how people react to a piece of mail.
We need to develop and share best practices about optimizing and tailoring those mail pieces to that individual.
Digital advertisements are tailored to the individual.
We can get very close to the same level of personalization of mail.
Second, we have to speed the adoption of technologies that make mail more actionable.
That means speeding the purchase process.
If you get a card or a catalog in the mail, you should be able to make a one click purchase and have that item delivered to you.
There are some mobile apps that are starting to make this reality. The simpler and faster we make the purchase process, the greater the return for the sender.
Third, we have to expand the functionality of mail.
We can embed some great technologies in mail.
Some amazing things are being done with paper to enable interactions with devices. This is an area that has the potential to drive some big leaps in the way people use mail.
Finally, as an industry, we have to invest in creativity.
There is a huge difference in the performance of mail pieces that use color and irregular sizes and novel construction.
People react to great mail pieces.
All of these strategies are focused on creating a more valuable experience for the receiver of mail — and that makes mail a more valuable tool within the marketing mix.
Mail is powerful because it’s a unique channel.
Mail gets opened and read.
People slow down and pay attention to it.
We can’t lose sight of those fundamental characteristics.
The core businesses of the Postal Service — First-Class Mail, marketing mail, and package delivery — all retain tremendous value in the market place. The important thing for the Postal Service, and throughout this industry, is to keep innovating and demonstrating excellent value.
Let me leave you with a few final thoughts. Our industry is going through some fundamental changes. The faster we adopt new technologies and leverage the power of data, the better we will be able to compete against other marketing channels.
Marketing mail volumes are growing this year.
We need to keep the momentum going.
Marketers are giving mail a fresh look. Early adopters are integrating multi-channel data and driving higher returns on mail.
We have a great story to tell, and we need to tell it with one voice.
We’re committed to supporting your business and being a strong advocate for our industry.
We’re doing a lot to enhance our delivery network and drive innovations and offerings.
Talk to us about how we can help grow your business.
Talk to us about how we can become stronger together.
I hope you have a great PCC Day.
Thank you for all you do to keep the mailing industry vibrant, creative, and competitive.
We look forward to another great year working with you.
More information is available on the PCC Week site, including video presentations from the PMG and other postal leaders.