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Is your mailing list updated?

Posted by Brian Berg Google+


Is the mailing list you are about to rent updated?  Good question.  Many believe that at each update, a marketable database is compiled from scratch with new names added and any inaccuracies eliminating.  There is a common belief that should you mail to an acquired list, there will be no undeliverable mailing addresses and 100% of your list will be delivered to the people who the homes in which they are addressed.  Every compiler of data, no matter how “freshly” updated the list, will have errors. The facts Let’s set the record straight.  No database, no matter how frequently updated is 100% accurate.  On average, a consumer mailing list will be between 5% and 7% undeliverable at any given time.  Improvements can be made to your mailing to increase deliverability, but in general terms, no list is perfect. Mailing address correction vs. target inaccuracy Let’s look more closely at the types of challenges that all compilers have with regard to building a “perfect” list. 


There are two potential issues with compiling a database; NCOA and monumental life events.  Let’s tackle the first.  On average, 20% of the population relocates each year.  In general, younger renters are a more transient population than senior homeowners.  Of those younger renters who do relocate, few will fill out a National Change of Address card than the senior homeowner movers.  Though it’s a free service, completing an NCOA card is sometimes the last thing on the minds of the younger mobile generation. The other potential issue is that of monumental life event.  Examples of these types of events are graduating from high school and college, marriage and divorce, the birth of a child, the purchase or sale of a home, getting hired or fired from a job, the death of a family member, or retirement.  With each of these examples, there are changes in financial priority and conditions that affect various select elements of a consumer mailing list.  Getting hired or fired from a job may drastically affect income, marriage or divorce changes your marital status, the purchase of a home usually affects a one’s ability to purchase but also one’s ability to save, and a growing family completely changes the family make-up of household. 


The death of a beloved family member will bring about many changes to include income, family composition, and the beginnings of a number of changes may likely follow such as the sale of real estate, and relocation of the remaining family members.  These life events change how the individual or household will appear on a consumer database but the change may take time before the compiler identifies the change, and adds the change to the database.  As an example, the sale of a home is recorded at the county court house but this recording doesn’t take place immediately.  It may take 30 to 60 days for a compiler to identify and record this change on their marketable consumer database.  Many times the death of a loved one remains on a database for years.  This is because the remaining spouse neglects to add the name the deceased to the DMA Deceased File.  So long as this name and address remain on the mortgage, deed, credit card, magazine subscription, etc, their name will continue to be added to the consumer database. Though most national consumer compilers pass their database against the NCOA every 60 to 90 days, and add whatever life event changes they can identify, minor errors in accuracy will exist. Inhouse Customer Mailing Lists If the compilers of national databases have a difficult time collecting and maintaining database accuracy, surely you’ll have challenges in keeping your own customer list up-to-date. 


Below are a number of processes that can be performed to your clients “in-house” mailing list to improve deliverability. NCOALink National Change of Address Database - Choose from 18 or 48 months worth of data.  This process improves your mailing list database by correcting any mailing list records where the address change has occurred. Move Codes Returns a code indicating a match was possible, but not close enough to meet the strict USPS® matching guidelines for NCOALink (to offer the new address, the USPS® requires an exact match).  The move code indicates the reason a match could not be made to the NCOALink file.  On average, move codes from NCOALink will code 5.09% of a file as undeliverable. 


This means that on average, every internal customer mailing list processed with the NCOA will still have records that are questionability inaccurate in terms of resident relocation because some of the records on the mailing list simply do not match up with the records on the NCOA database. CASS Processing This  process verifies whether or not an address is an actual valid address. On average, CASS processed addresses will code 3.96% of a file as bad / non-deliverable addresses.  This process identifies which mailing list addresses accurately compare with the actual address of the supposed mail box location within a range.  It says that, according to the United States Post Office, for the most part the mailing list this deliverable enough to qualify for postal discounts. LACSLink Corrects mailing address lists for areas that have undergone permanent address conversion. The LACSLink database consists of address conversions that the USPS® has obtained and verified, primarily a result of E 911 address conversions.  This process identifies those addresses that have undergone a change from simplified addressing to a unique individual address. DSF2 TM / DPV Using an EXACT address database from the USPS®, DSF2 verifies whether or not an address is an actual valid address.  This process will take and internal customer mailing list and identify those records that are almost correct but not entirely.  The process flags those addresses so that the direct mail marketer can decide to include those addresses or omit them. Deceased Processing Appends a code for people on a mailing list who are deceased. The foundation of this mailing list process is the Social Security database and individually reported deaths (a person, usually a loved one, will write in to have a person removed from a master consumer mailing list because they have passed away). 


This process takes your mailing list and flags those deceased individuals.  By processing your mailing list through the deceased database, you avoid wasting your direct mail campaign budget on people who simply will not respond as well as upsetting their survivors who will then never respond to your offer. Nth Select / List Splits / Keycodes If you do not wish to direct mail to your entire file, a random sample (Nth Select) can be performed to meet your quantity requirements. Or maybe you have a group of mailing list names that respond better, and you wish to mail to them.  Spliting those records off of your file allows you to reduce your mailing cost while reaching the same responsive people. If you have multiple mailing list files and wish to track the response for each one, keycoding the mailing list will allow you to measure what takes how certain clusters of your mailing list responds. Postal Qualify (Postal Presort) Now your mailing list is ready to mail. Almost!  One final step is required. Your list must be POSTAL QUALIFIED to make sure you get the lowest postage possible.  Using a POSTAL QUALIFY program, your mailing list records are sorted to achieve every postal discount available. Sophisticated Merge/Purge/File Suppression Consider deduping your mailing list to remove those records located twice or more on your mailing list.  Doing so will eliminate sending your direct mail piece to the same person more than once.