Your mailing list is the lifeblood of your marketing efforts. How much time do you spend maintaining it? Many customers invest in data cleansing when they buy a new list, but this is not something that should be one-and-done. It should be an ongoing process. Let’s look at some basic steps you should be taking regularly to keep your list in top shape.
1. Address correction. If you do bulk mailings, the United States Postal Service requires you to run your list through NCOA within 90 days of every mailing. Even if your mailings don’t fall under the “bulk” category, using NCOA on a regular basis is just a good idea. It doesn’t cost much, and the postal savings can more than offset the investment.
2. Enhanced change of address. NCOA is only about 80% effective. It only works for people who file their change of address with the Post Office, and it is only accurate for people who have moved within the past four years. You may also want to consider investing in enhanced change of address services, which match address data from retailers, utilities, credit card companies, telecoms, and other private sources and can yield 20¬–40% more matches than NCOA alone.
3. Address accuracy. You should be running your list through CASS (Coding Accuracy Support System) on a regular basis, as well. This corrects and matches street addresses to postal specifications.
4. De-dupe names. It’s easy for duplicates to sneak into your mailing list (for example, Jane Smith and Jane A. Smith may be the same person), but it’s just as easy to remove them. Why irritate your audience with duplicate mailings and run up your postage bill unnecessarily?
5. De-dupe households. Unless you are selling to businesses in which multiple practitioners may be at the same location (such as an office building), there is usually no reason to send multiple direct mail pieces to the same address.
6. Deceased suppression. Once someone has died, continuing to send mail (particularly marketing mail) simply reignites painful emotions among family members who are handling their loved one’s affairs. Make deceased suppression part of your routine.
7. Service endorsements. With service endorsements, you are asking the Post Office to let you know if mail cannot be delivered because of an incorrect address. If a new address is available, the Post Office will provide it. If not, you can remove the name from your list. There is an extra fee for service endorsements, but if you do a lot of mailing, it doesn’t take long before this service pays for itself.
How well are you following this checklist? If you need help with your mailing service and maintaining your list, we’ll be happy to help.