How do you know if your Direct Mail was actually mailed?

How do you know if your Direct Mail was actually mailed?

Kymera has been in the direct mail, or “performance marketing” business, for over 20 years, and we have heard this question a couple of times: “How do I know you even mailed my job?”


Someone usually asks this when they give us something to mail, but didn't come to us for help with targeting, messaging, or design. Direct mail campaigns without all of these components are rarely successful, and we have turned down mail jobs that we suspect will fail miserably. But that's the topic for another time.


Regardless of the circumstance, "How do I know you even mailed my job?" is a legitimate question that deserves a legitimate answer.


Proof of Mailing 


The post office has rules about how commercial mail is processed and documented. They also have rules for how you submit commercial mailings to the USPS. To receive the postage discounts that make commercial mailers popular, you must certify that each address you are mailing is real, correct, and accepts mail. (Not all addresses accept mail. Some people have PO Boxes, alternative mail drop addresses, or temporary forwarding addresses.) They also require us to check through the National Change of Address system (NCOA) to ensure the addressee still lives there.

Direct mail marketing needs a clean mailing list and barcode to help sort you mail

Once the mailing list is "cleaned," it receives a barcode that allows it to be sorted in a specific order, facilitating the USPS with bundling the mail into small batches to be delivered to the various neighborhood offices, called SCFs (Sectional Center Facilities), for final distribution. All of this takes very specialized (and expensive!) software that is updated by the USPS monthly, and every mailing is required to go through this process if they want to get postage discounts.


As you would expect, we're also required to document the process and, in so doing, prepare certification that the mail meets USPS standards. We then upload the documentation to the USPS Gateway System, where the results of our preparation are compared to the actual mailing and confirmed to meet their specifications. This document, the Confirmation Sheet, proves that the mailing was entered into the USPS system and postage was paid.


Delivery Verification 


The next level of proof comes with USPS Tracking®. When your mail service provider runs the mailing list through their specialized software to clean and presort the mail, they can apply USPS Tracking® to the mailing. This paid service through the USPS provides end-to-end tracking for your mail through the USPS system, from the point of insertion through delivery. This service gives you a timed path for your mail to the date each piece was delivered. If you are a frequent mailer, your service provider may even provide a portal to receive tracking reports for proof of delivery.


Informed Delivery


If you want to take advantage of the technology available through the USPS, you should investigate Informed Delivery®. Informed Delivery® is a free service for consumers and businesses, allowing them to preview letter-sized mail digitally via email sent by the USPS daily. The USPS digitally images the front of letter-sized mail that runs through their automated mail sorting equipment. They use those images to provide digital notifications to customers before the delivery of physical mail. The delivery status of items with USPS Tracking®, including Certified Mail® and Registered Mail®, is available via Informed Delivery notifications. Roughly 31% of everyone receiving mail is enrolled in Informed Delivery®, and 67.5% of those emails are opened daily, with a pass-through rate of 91%.


The big advantage for participating mailers is the ability to enable a clickable and interactive color image to replace the standard grayscale image of their mail piece in the daily email notification. A "Learn More" button allows the Informed Delivery® participant to access the mailer's digital content, such as a landing page with convertible content. You can eliminate the steps of sorting and viewing the mail and entering a URL or shooting a QR code from the mail piece to reach the same page, eliminating steps and increasing your chances of converting your call to action.


In summary, if you want proof your job was mailed, ask for a Qualification Sheet. If you want to know when it was delivered, pay a penny a piece for USPS Tracking®. If you want proof of delivery AND the ability to add a digital link to your paper message, enroll in Informed Delivery®.


Or you could simply use Kymera and never have to worry about it again! Contact us today for a successful, trackable, and measurable campaign. Let’s get to work.