April 3, 2009

Zumbox – The Alternative Postal System


What a strange and innovative idea: it’s not quite postal mail and it’s not quite email. Users send email just as they would normally, but instead of the email being delivered to a person’s inbox, it’s delivered to a corresponding Zumbox, which is affiliated with that person’s postal address. This opens up the number of places people can be reached, as businesses may have an email address on file, but not a postal mail address.

The site has a pretty well though-out approach. Advertisers benefit by reducing mailing costs and customers can avoid adding piles of paper to their trash bin every week. The goal would be to get to a point where customers view advertising on their Zumbox in a more favorable, opt-in manner.

Using Zumbox is easy as advertisers can dynamically choose what the simulated envelope will look like from a series of templates, as well as use letterhead templates or upload their own artwork entirely. Zumbox is pretty authoritative – having access to over 150 million postal mailboxes across the US but also requiring an address verification process of any new member to mitigate fraud.

Practical Uses:

  • Send sensitive contracts that you don’t want to sit in someone’s email inbox
  • Send a letter to a family member that’s more personalized than standard email
  • Send PDF invoices if you’re a freelance contract worker
  • Send advertisements to a wider list of recipients than simply via email
  • Cut down on your postal mail clutter by encouraging advertisers to use your Zumbox instead

Insider Tips:

  • Track how many times a piece of mail has been viewed – this is a good way to monitor marketing campaigns
  • Use the Do Not Papermail feature to ensure that the correspondent replies via email or phone – saves paper
  • Embed YouTube or other media clips within your messages (try that with postal mail!)
  • Use the service to mail entire documents – such as PDFs

What we liked:

  • It’s free for recipients
  • The service is easy to use and provides advertisers with professional-looking templates
  • Zumbox supports a variety of software programs – such as using Quickbooks for invoicing

What we didn’t like:

  • It’s not much more useful than email and attaching documents, as the person needs to have a Zumbox account – and if you can contact someone through Zumbox, chances are you can contact them through email
  • It’s not yet clear how many people are going to open up Zumbox accounts


Nothing quite like Zumbox but another online mailing service we liked:

Company Info:

  • Launched: December 2007
  • Privately Held
  • Headquarters: Westlake Village, CA
  • Founded by: Maury Friedman and Arthur Bilger
  • Web site:


  • Free

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