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Mailing List Address Accuracy

Posted by Brian Berg Google+


Customers new to the direct mailing industry may not understand common issues that occur in mailing list compilation and the direct mail delivery process. Following are some common questions and explanations. It is important to note that mailing list accuracy is only one aspect of deliverability. Production processes and creative execution also impact mailing list deliverability rates. What deliverability rate should I expect with my direct mail campaign? What is an acceptable direct mail deliverability rate? The industry average typically quoted is 90%. Reasons for delivery errors are primarily due to the issues addressed below.


Why are there deceased individuals on my mailing list?


The main source for the Deceased Suppression file is the Social Security Administration (SSA). Vendors receive quarterly updates of the file and suppress deceased names as part of each compilation process.


If an individual did not collect social security benefits through the SSA, they are not included on this deceased file. Most mailing list vendors consider individuals with no activity for 48 months “deceased” and remove them from their mailing list.


Why are single households receiving multiple mail pieces?


To avoid this, dedupe the mailing list on the address level not the household level. In vendor compilation procedures, a “duplicate” is defined as an individual containing the same name at the same address. Different surnames at the same address are NOT considered duplicates.  As an example, two individuals with different last names living at the same address are considered two separate households.


Why are there inaccurate addresses and/or names that do not match addresses on my mailing list?


Part of the vendor mailing list compilation process utilizes the United States Postal Service (USPS).


Every month the USPS provides vendors with a Locatable Address Coding System (LACS) file. Most mailing list inaccuracies are the result of a local postmaster providing incomplete or inaccurate mailing list information. When vendors match against the LACS file there must be an EXACT name and address match. If postmasters submit a variation, this will lead to a non-match and a non-conversion of that address.


How are Change of Addresses (COA) filed?


When a person completes an NCOA (National Change of Address) request with the post office, they may file either as an “individual” or as a “household”. If a “household” move is marked, any same surnames in the household will be moved to the new address.


Why is age mailing list data sometimes listed as “estimated”?


A high percentage of vendor files are coded with exact age obtained from date of birth data. When “date of birth” does not exist, vendors apply various data points to “estimate” age. In most cases, the “estimated age” will fall within five years of the exact age. “Estimated” age data is not inaccurate.


It is a reliable and accepted industry practice.


Why are there inaccuracies in income data?


In general, most “estimated household income” mailing list data is very accurate. Vendors use various methods to estimate or infer income; real estate, martial status, age, presence of children, sale price of home, summarized credit statistics, census demos, etc. When available, actual income data at the individual and household level may be used to validate “estimated income”. Errors are generally isolated and using estimated income when building your mailing list criteria mostly accurate.