The real thing

USPS is testing a service that offers customers a digital preview of their mail.

USPS is continuing to test a program that offers customers a digital preview of the mail they’ll receive later that day.

Real Mail Notification sends subscribers an email each morning with images of that day’s mailbox contents. It will be tested this fall in New York City following a promising trial in Northern Virginia.

“We’re doing this to enhance the mail product,” New Products and Innovation VP Gary Reblin told Direct Marketing News this week.

The service uses pictures of mail that pass through sorting machines. Mailers can work with USPS to add interactive options to the email alerts, making them a potentially valuable advertising vehicle.

During the Northern Virginia test, the consumer response rate to direct mailings spiked, underscoring research that suggests marketing campaigns are more effective when email and direct mail are used together.

Ninety-three percent of users in Northern Virginia opened their email alerts within two hours, and 86 percent said they would recommend the service to friends.

Reblin is optimistic about the program, which is part of the Postal Service’s broader effort to use technology to spark innovation and profitability.

“We think this … is going to change and revolutionize direct mail,” he said.