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July 14, 2022

What is Certified Mail?

Guest Author

Certified Mail is a service offered by the United States Postal Service (USPS) that provides proof of mailing. As the sender, you will receive a receipt, and when your mail arrives (or a delivery attempt is made), you will be notified. This tracking service provides added peace of mind when you send important items in the mail — but how effective is this service when you're aiming to scale?

Certified Mail defined

As defined by USPS, certified mail provides senders with a mailing receipt or electronic verification to signify a parcel or letter was delivered (or that delivery was attempted). This is an excellent way to ensure the validity and safety of your mail.

Certified Mail is a domestic service that you can use for First-Class Mail, First-Class Package Service, or Priority Mail, which are the options that will determine how quickly your mail arrives.

Related: Product Update: Proof of Mailing Event for Your Lob Letters

How do you use Certified Mail?

When you use this service, your mail is scanned and tracked by the United States Postal Service tracking system. It is scanned when accepted and tracked as it reaches various USPS sorting and processing centers. As they deliver the mail, a postal worker obtains the recipient's signature and updates the delivery status.

Certified Mail requires the recipient's signature upon receipt; if no one is home, it ends up at the local post office, where it remains available for pickup. If the desired recipient does not pick up a piece of mail within a certain time frame (usually three to five days), it goes back to the sender.

Those are the basics of how Certified Mail works, but the service is slightly more complex, as several types of Certified Mail are available. Knowing what each option includes before you send your mail is essential.

  • Certified Mail — With this service, you receive a unique tracking number to check your item's status online. Anyone at the given address can accept and sign for the item.
  • Certified Mail with return receipt — You will get a return receipt or green card for an additional fee. When the recipient receives the item, they must sign and date the attached green card so that it can be mailed back to you. This option is also available via an electronic receipt. Again, a fee applies.
  • Certified Mail with return receipt and restricted delivery — This is the strictest of the options, as only the intended recipient or an authorized agent can accept the item.

Please note: It is possible to purchase a return receipt after mailing an item. USPS will keep signatures on file for two years.

What are the benefits?

Now that we've addressed the question of what is Certified Mail, it's time to discuss the benefits.

Anyone can use Certified Mail. However, this service is mainly used by select businesses, financial companies, law firms, insurance companies, government agencies, etc. For example, a legally recognized proof of delivery is vital when sending tax-related notifications, court papers, or important contracts.

So, the most significant benefit is greater peace of mind when sending essential items that require proof of mailing. However, the Certified Mail service also offers the ability to track items, enhance security, and improve record retention.

From certified to clear-sighted: The intelligent mail evolution

The benefits of sending Certified Mail using a direct mail automation platform are even more significant. But not all platforms are built the same and streamline the process of integrating direct mail into your marketing mix. By moving beyond simply automating direct mail, Lob's intelligent mail is connected, measurable, and personalized.

Run through this checklist to see if your direct mail is just automated or intelligent.

Intelligent mail checklist:

  • Configurable integrations: Optimize your omnichannel customer journey by connecting your digital channels with direct mail. An intelligent mail platform allows you to integrate it with your current marketing workflows and technology to send based on triggers or customer behavior, or allows you to send direct mail in batches based on the needs of your campaign.  
  • Scalable: Easily scale direct mail campaigns, whether you're sending a few hundred mailers or millions.
  • Personalization: Just like email tokens, intelligent mail allows you to use a variety of merge variables to create hyper-personalized mailers in minutes.
  • Measureable: Measure every delivery using an intelligent platform, monitoring the status of your mail within the delivery process (e.g., sent, mailed, in-transit, processed for delivery, re-routed, returned to sender). When you want the protection of Certified Mail, you can add it.
  • Printer network: Intelligent mail routes your print pieces to the best printer available out of a vast network for quick turnaround and on-time delivery.

A bonus of intelligent mail? It's got the environment's best interests in mind. By only working with printers that source sustainable paper you can achieve both your marketing goals and your sustainability ones at the same time.

Lob allows you to send intelligent mail at scale

The Certified Mail service offered through USPS at your local post office is excellent. However, it's not your only option — especially if you're looking for an easier, more accessible option at scale.

Maximize the intelligence of your direct mail marketing, and its eco-friendly nature, by scrubbing your address data before every campaign send - or even as you collect it from your customers. Learn more about Lob's Address Verification API to get the most out of your marketing database and make sure your data is valid.

You can also easily add extra services, including certified and registered mail when submitting a letter request.

So, there you have it. You no longer need to ask "what is Certified Mail?" or wonder how to best send your mail. With Lob, you can increase address verification accuracy, improve efficiency, and automate direct mail at scale. See how easy sending intelligent direct mail with Lob is by exploring Lob for Marketers.

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