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DIRECT MAIL NEWS: Royal Mail’s EIBs could mean the resurgence of direct mail, says mailing expert

Royal Mail is investing £70 million in Enterprise Intelligent Barcodes (EIBs) which will be added to letters so that companies can track their mail through the postal network.

The initiative will allow businesses to track bulk mail consignments through to delivery. It means business customers will know when mail will be delivered. Previously this information had only been available through higher cost tracking services.

Terry Sorfleet, managing director of South Yorkshire mailing and fulfilment house Cambertown, believes the introduction of Royal Mail’s EBIs will transform the way marketers can use direct mail, as well as generating better delivery outcomes for those sending mail.

He explained: “Royal Mail’s proposals offer a superb opportunity for both marketers and any customers sending mail. The EIBs will not only contain the address details but will also be used to track each piece of mail through the Royal Mail system to the delivery office. It will enable Royal Mail to report when letters were dispatched and delivered which in turn helps customers who are trying to track mail.

“The proposals also state that half of the barcode content will be free space for companies like ours, and our customers, to use. It means we will be able to work with marketers to make the most of that space and find innovative ways of ensuring direct mail can be logged, analysed and evaluated as effectively as electronic mail.

“For instance, we could use the free barcode space to provide an offer code which was only accessed by customers scanning the EIB. As each code could be unique, we could track exactly who interacted with our customer as a result of their direct mailing – the direct mail equivalent of monitoring click through.”

The scheme, which will launch in early 2014, will enable large mail users to improve their efficiency and customer service. It will also enable them to more accurately link other communications, for example a text message or email, with delivery of their mail.

Each customer will be able to add barcodes to their mail which will give them access to daily online reports detailing which mailings have been processed and sent out for delivery.