Key Notes Vol. 02 No. 24

Enhancing the Value of Mail / The Human Response Advertising mail accounted for over $20 billion — or 31 percent — of the U.S. Postal Service’s total revenue in fiscal year 2014. However, marketers have increasingly numerous choices of media available to them in today’s rapidly growing digital world. Understanding physical ad mail’s unique qualities and how people respond to them could enable the Postal Service to identify potential new opportunities to maintain and enhance this critically important source of revenue. The Postal Service Office of Inspector General (OIG) worked with Temple University’s Center for Neural Decision Making to study people’s responses to physical and digital media in the consumer buying process, including memory of products advertised and intent to purchase.  The full results, detailed in Enhancing the Value of Mail: The Human Response, could help companies improve their marketing strategies and also help the Postal Service better understand the effectiveness of ad mail. Source: Office of Inspector General USPS

PRC Leaves Exigency’s Removal in Place For Now The Postal Regulatory Commission issued an order denying the Postal Service’s request that remand the planned removal of the exigent rate surcharge in August. The order, at the same time, removed the requirement that USPS gives mailers 45-day notice of the change in rates. That latter item gives PRC time to react to changes in the assessment of exigency’s ultimate price, which was requested by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in a decision handed down June 5. In its original approval of the exigent rate, PRC put a price of around $2.8 billion on the cost of the Great Recession to the Postal Service. In the request filed last week, USPS fixed the price closer to $4 billion. The new notice from the postal commissioners indicated their intention to quickly deal with the court’s request. Lifting the 45-day requirement gives them the breathing room to do so. “If the Postal Service were to file the 45-day notice of intent to remove the surcharge by mid-June, this notice could trigger a burdensome series of rate decreases and increases as described in the Postal Service’s motion,” read the PRC’s latest order, dated June 12. “The Commission agrees that it is desirable to avoid such a circumstance.” Source: DM News

Direct Mail Makes a ComebackMove over email, the thud of direct mail landing on the doormat is making a comeback as research suggests consumers would rather rip open than click open. Thanks to a revolution in personalized digital print technology customers are increasingly opting for ink over pixels to grab attention with research suggesting the most effective marketing campaigns combine letterboxes with inboxes. Research has shown that 51 per cent of emails are deleted within two seconds (2) whereas 69% will open a letter from a company about a promotion or special offer. Furthermore, 60% will open mail if it’s from a company about a product or service they don’t currently have. Add to this a poll of 9,000 people which suggests that 83 per cent of people feel direct mail is easier to take in than email and it is becoming obvious that targeting doormats makes business sense. Source: BDaily

Why Online Retailers Mail So Many Catalogs The old-school catalog format has survived to play a crucial creative role in modern e-commerce. Today, the catalog is bait for customers, like a store window display, and a source of inspiration, the way roaming through store aisles can be. The hope is shoppers will mark pages they like and then head online, or into a store, to buy. Today’s catalogs are no longer phone-book-size compilations of every item a retailer sells. Instead, they have fewer pages and merchandise descriptions, and more and bigger photos and lifestyle images. Many retailers can pinpoint exactly when their catalogs land in mailboxes because of a spike in activity in stores and online. The potential for boosting sales has brought new interest in print catalogs.  [Also check out the USPS Link article here on the nation’s oldest catalog] Source: WSJ

House Panel Backs Faster Mail, More USPS FacilitiesThis week a House committee advanced a measure to reinstate U.S. Postal Service delivery standards from 2012, which would effectively halt any of the agency’s desired facility closures. The provision was attached as an amendment to the financial services and general government appropriations bill after being introduced by Rep. Chaka Fattah, D-Pa., formerly the head Democrat on postal issues. The amendment would restore the delivery standards in place in 2012, meaning most first-class mail not leaving a city would have to be delivered overnight. The USPS responded by saying the rollback is financially and operationally indefensible. Sources: Government Executive & USPS