The United States Postal Service provides Informed Delivery as a service to their customers. This software as a service (SaaS) application, initially developed by OPTiMO, generates daily emails that allow just over 49 million registered users to view images of the mail to be delivered to them that day. Along with images of the actual letters, business customers can attach clickable “ride-along” images as part of digital advertising campaigns, which further extend the reach of their physical mail campaigns. The open rate on these Informed Delivery emails is over 69%, well above the industry average.
Even with very high Informed Delivery email open rates, click through rates (CTRs) for individual campaigns can vary widely based on the nature and design effectiveness of the advertisement itself. Business customers, especially small businesses without dedicated design resources, often struggle to produce visually engaging, on-message creative that meets the minimum format requirements. As a result, they often submit ride-along images that are just resized versions of larger designs, which are simply not effective for their intended purpose. These campaigns often see lower engagement as an outcome.
OPTiMO’s team of experts designed and developed the cloud-based Informed Images pilot, a library system containing high-quality advertising content that enables business customers to easily create effective digital advertising campaigns for use with the Informed Delivery application. Relying on extensive industry research in several vertical markets and our own expertise in the principles of effective visual design, we blended key trends and best practices to create the innovative Informed Images template-based solution.
Our team took an Agile iterative solutioning approach from minimum viable product (MVP) to final pilot, which allowed USPS stakeholders to provide input early and often as well as ensure the result aligned with business objectives and user needs. During each sprint, OPTiMO conducted industry and user research as well as design workshops with internal and external stakeholders to uncover and fully understand the problems to be solved. Based on those findings, we developed a collection of advertising copy and call to actions (CTAs) to cover a wide range of categories and industries.
OPTiMO took an innovative approach to designing and developing USPS’ Informed Images – a highly effective, template-driven content creation tool.
As a result of our thorough review and refinement process, over 150 pieces of individually targeted content were created to populate the image library for the initial Informed Images pilot launch. Utilizing basic design principles, trends, and best practices, the OPTiMO team created initial designs for each piece of content, which underwent internal peer review, stakeholder review, and small-scale user testing to gauge their effectiveness. We revised content that was assessed to have a low likelihood of success to align with testing results. We also designed and developed an online content management system (CMS) and a tool for template-based image creation, enabling users to select from categorized content, then customize and export advertising creative via a simple drag and drop interface.
Leveraging established 18F Methods, a collection of tools focused on putting human-centered design into practice, OPTiMO took a disciplined and comprehensive Discover/Decide/Make/Validate approach to ensure the solution effectively met customer needs. This included executing the proven, stringent quality practices that were embedded in every step of our design and development process. Equally important, our cloud-based SaaS development and deployment strategy enabled us to rapidly prototype and develop a robust MVP to achieve full-scale proof of concept.
OPTiMO’s Informed Images solution is a cloud-based application that offers high value. First, as a content management system, it presents users with a categorized library of ride-along images. Second, as a basic design tool, it allows users to tailor best-practice templates to their individual digital ad campaigns.
Currently being reviewed by executive stakeholders at USPS, the Informed Images pilot is scheduled for wide-scale release at the beginning of Fiscal Year 2023 with an initial offering of over 150 customizable image templates. This high-quality solution will reduce USPS business customers’ reliance on design resources to create their campaign assets while increasing their overall campaign CTRs.