Thursday, February 12, 2009

Zumbox: sending you paper mail so you don't have to get paper mail

I received a press release e-mail the yesterday about Zumbox, the first free Web-based, all-digital postal system alternative to the USPS for sending and receiving paper mail.
Free for consumers and businesses (except advertisers and marketers), Zumbox
is a cost-effective, easy-to-use, and environmentally responsible new way to
send and receive mail. It is also a timely option - given the condition of
the present postal system.

Zumbox is based on the *current street address system* and operates within a
closed, secure system with bank-level security.
Zumbox will be free to you and me. We will be able to send and receive mail at no charge. It's the advertisers and marketers who will pay to use it.
Zumbox will derive revenues from charging advertisers and marketers that utilize the service. Zumbox is set to dramatically improve the efficiency of direct response marketing and enable real-time campaign measurement through powerful analytics tools, which are unavailable for traditional direct mail initiatives.

By using Zumbox, advertisers and marketers will enjoy lower customer acquisition costs and an enhanced digital offering, while benefiting from real-time distribution to consumers and prospects. The service allows for mail to be sent to a single address, a mailing list, or a geographic region, which enables targeting of all addresses on a street, in a building, within a radius or in a city, ZIP code, county or state.
I went to Zumbox to check it out for us all, I typed in my name and address, and was taken to my personal virtual mailbox, and surprise! I had mail - from Zumbox, of course. This is what I read.

This letter was sent to your street address electronically. It was not printed, folded, enveloped, and stamped. It was not picked up by a person, driven across town, sorted, re-sorted, and hand-delivered by another person to your mailbox.

In order to investigate any further, I need to enter my pin, which get this, will be mailed to my house in the next three to four days! I understand it's for security reasons, but it really struck me as funny. Once I receive my pin, I'll investigate further.

But here are my first thoughts. I'm all for going as paperless as possible. There are some things however, that I want to receive in the mail. Like letters from friends. Christmas cards. The journal that my college roommate and I mail back and forth to each other. Most of the rest of the stuff can be sent electronically.

However, I'm still not sure how different this will be from the e-mail system we already have. People and businesses that I chose to can already correspond with me through e-mail. This seems more of an opportunity for marketers to target me. All of those companies that despite my best efforts to get off of their lists still send me advertisements in the mail. It looks like with Zumbox that I will be able to delete their mail unopened, and even block their mail. So will they just go back to snail mailing me?

I'll know a little more in a couple of days. Until then, you might want to snoop around a bit yourself.
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