Political direct mail is not a new idea, but it remains a key channel in political campaign advertising – affordable, targetable, and effective. But, while political direct mail is not new, there are a lot of new technologies that can make it much more effective.
Long gone are the days when a campaign sent a mailing and guessed when it might be delivered. Today, every piece of mail can be tracked as it travels through the mail system so you can know exactly where mail is being delivered – and when. Campaigns and consultants can use this information to coordinate other channels with the mail, anticipate response, and time subsequent efforts.
In addition to knowing when mail is delivered, mail tracking can also let consultants and campaigns know when a mailing entered the mail stream. When managing multiple campaigns and mail vendors there is great value in knowing that all the players are meeting their commitments. Mail tracking can help.
Informed Delivery is a US Postal Service program that sends subscribers a daily digest with black and white pictures of the mail that is going to be in their mailbox that day. In most cases the digest is sent by email to subscribers who have signed up in the program and provided their email address. Since launching the program in 2017, the Postal Service has gained more than 45 million consumer subscribers. More than one in every four households now contains an Informed Delivery subscriber. It is a very popular service.
Mailers – including political campaigns – can replace the black and white image with color ads – which include clickable links. It is a way of getting additional impressions – a lot of them – for free. USPS does not charge mailers for this service. In fact, there is a promotion this fall from August 1 through the end of the year where the Postal Service will be offering a 4% postage discount for mailings that include an Informed Delivery campaign. Essentially, USPS is paying you to have access to their 45 million record email list.
Informed Delivery accompanies your campaign mail pieces, so you have the same targeting capabilities as your direct mail. It is an amazing resource – for free.
USPS gets social with Share Mail. Share Mail lets you send a packet of post cards – or any other mail piece – to activist voters who can send those cards to their like-minded friends and associates without needing to put on a stamp. It is a great way to spread the word to just the right people. The service is completely trackable – you will know who sent out their pieces, and when. You only pay postage on those pieces that are mailed. You can get social with your mail.
Mail Tracking can do more than just track outgoing mail – you can also use it to track response. For fundraisers, you can see each day how many contributions have been placed in the mail back to you. Voter registration mailings can track how many of your target constituents sent in the registration form you provided – even though it is going to their Secretary as State, and not back to you. It is a great way to test, control, and quantify your voter registration campaign.
Choosing the Right Partner
All these advanced programs are effective and affordable (even free sometimes!). They are not always easy to administer. They require considerable postal knowledge and experience. Your mailing vendors may be able to help with many of these programs, and there are specialists like SnailWorks who deal with these programs every day. SnailWorks creates Informed Delivery campaigns and manages mail tracking with a variety of agencies, consultants, and mail service providers.
If mail is part of your campaign advertising strategy – and it almost certainly is – these tools will make it work better for you.