This fall, New Yorkers are going to experience a new kind of snail mail.
The United States Postal Service is rolling out their Real Mail Notification (RMN) service where users can get a preview of their daily mail the morning of the delivery. Waiting for that check to come through the mail? You will know in the morning what you’ll find in your physical mailbox later on that day.
So far, this program has only been piloted in Northern Virginia, and to great success and favor.
When talking about this pilot program in her recent speech at the National Postal Forum, Postmaster General, Megan Brennan, said, “Nine out of 10 people were checking their mobile device to see what’s in their mail every day.” This sort of engagement with the consumer is “unprecedented.”
Real Mail Notification is the logical next step for the USPS, especially since the mail-scanning equipment used to provide these digital snapshots to your email is already in place. The Postal Service already scans the barcode on each piece of mail, taking a black and white photo of the front of the letter, but now, people will receive an email telling them what will be in their mailbox.
Personal convenience aside, RMN will open the marketing channel for businesses and retailers. Consumers will be able to click on the electronic mail and be forwarded to websites, encouraging further engagement with the products and services being offered. The combination of the tangibility of direct mail and the immediacy of electronic mail will pack a punch and open up avenues for a variety of uses.
Going completely electronic, though, undervalues the impact of the physical and electronic components when done together. Brennan emphasized the continued importance of the direct mail, saying, “People slow down to interact with the physical piece of mail – and when they slow down, they’re more apt to engage with the message.” More interaction happens when you have to pick up a piece of mail rather than just delete the new item in your email inbox. You must slow down, read, process and analyze, then physically decide what to do with the item whether follow-up, keep or toss.
No matter the new app or device, individuals still enjoy receiving an addressed, stamped and sealed piece of mail. Companies, then, must focus on the importance of a well-crafted item in the mailbox.
Adding the digital element will freshen up the traditional mail experience, and open up the communication options for companies, encouraging creativity and inventiveness. Mail in the hand is not to be overlooked – but, New Yorkers, if you are expecting a piece of snail mail, maybe check your inbox first.