• Lois Ritarossi

National Postal Forum 2019 – A First-timer’s Perspective

Updated: May 17, 2019

As a first-time attendee at the National Postal Forum (NPF) last week, I was inspired by the adoption of new technologies to enhance and make mail more valuable and engaging. The NPF had a diverse group of attendees, including mailers responsible for many well-known brands, print and mail service providers, hardware and software suppliers, and senior and regional leaders from the USPS as well as trade associations and publications. Attendees were eager to share their knowledge in sessions and during the networking events.

While there were countless people who have attended the NPF for years, I was welcomed by many people, both seasoned attendees and fellow first-timers, who shared their insights about the conference and state of the industry.

There were numerous sessions demonstrating success in increasing response, conversion and engagement with personalized mail campaigns that are driving people to the web and to product decision. New technologies include leveraging the USPS Informed Platform - with Informed Visibility for mailers to target other channels for communication based on when mail will be received, and Informed Delivery for consumers to increase the touch points and awareness of mail campaigns.

Building on the theme “Growth Driven: Fueling Your Mailing and Shipping Success,” Postmaster General Megan Brennan, shared the success of Informed Delivery. More than 16 million people are subscribers, with 500,000 new consumers enrolling each month. She emphasized the critical role mail plays in connecting people and businesses by driving consumers to act and create meaningful interactions. We heard from a marketing executive from the popular women’s’ accessories brand Vera Bradley, which changed its printed catalog strategy by adding more frequent catalog mailings to engage customers, increase sales and increase retention.

There were over 100 educational sessions to chose from. I particularly enjoyed David Lewis from Snailworks. Mr. Lewis shared how he enabled his clients to create Informed Delivery campaigns that are generating a measurable lift in response and conversion, including the anticipation of receiving a mail piece.

He found that 10-15% of recipients on a typical mail list are subscribed to Informed Delivery. That means they are receiving the additional touch point from the USPS daily email with a call to action link - before they receive the physical mailpiece. In another example, an automotive company produced three times the average click-through rates when it added Informed Delivery to its mail campaignsSeveral other software service providers demonstrated solutions to create and manage Informed Delivery campaigns and Informed Visibility data.

The most inspiration came from the general session led by Jakki Strako, Chief Customer and Marketing Officer and Executive Vice President of the USPS, “Real Connection in the Digital Age.” A futurist, an artist and agency leaders for global brands shared how business will change based on megatrends that are driving the 4th Industrial Revolution.

The fusion of the physical and digital worlds has occurred, as the Internet of Things drives sensors installed in millions of devices, cars and appliances, which enable voice interaction in our homes and offices. Artificial intelligence (AI) will drive software and products. Robotics will change manufacturing and eliminate many manual tasks across all business sectors.. In the near future, robots programmed to learn through AI will be interacting with and supporting people at home and at work. Augmented reality, (which enhances the physical world with virtual experiences), will dramatically impact business, education, product development and customer experience on every level. All of this will all be possible when 5G connectivity is readily available as we move into a 4D world. The statistics on the rapid adoption in each of these areas already are staggering, demonstrating how quickly technology-driven changes are impacting products, services, as well as how we live and interact. In the next 3 years, 50% of all internet searches will be by voice command. Currently over 23% of US households now have smart speakers, a growth of an astounding 78% in 2018.

Service: Habitat For Humanity

I had the privilege of joining a Habitat for Humanity local project on the day before the Forum due to the generous sponsorship from Mark Fallon of The Berkshire Company. Despite cold rainy weather we worked on siding, insulation and trim. We had the opportunity to meet the woman who will soon live in her new home, thanks to Habitat. Mark is an industry expert in print, mail and postal optimization and has sponsored the Habit build at the NPF for 4 years. Read his reflections on his blog here.

I left the NPF with many new ideas to fuel my success, many new professionals in my network and the newfound ability to operate a nail gun.

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