Bad address data continue to depress ROI for a significant chunk of direct mail marketers. For mailers struggling with bad addresses and deliverability, AccuList® suggests three remedial steps that go beyond standard merge-purge processing and USPS National Change of Address (NCOA) updating.
But first the good news for direct mail fans: The channel’s superior response and ROI lead 58% of marketers to plan expanded investment in direct mail across industries in 2023, according to a recent survey by Lob and Comperemedia. The bad news: 32% of marketers still worry about achieving response goals because of “bad address data.”
So what can mailers do to cure this “bad address” problem?
#1 Check Individual Record Quality Before Processing
The initial step AccuList recommends is implementation of a data processing and quality control regimen before merge-purge, hygiene updating or appending of new data, whether for prospecting files or house files. For example, first and last name on internal and external lists should appear in separate fields, along with the corresponding postal address in separate columns.
At AccuList, our data experts begin by applying utility programs to individual records before standardizing them to find hidden duplicate or misspelled names, titles and addresses, or other deliverability issues. Next, we use the USPS Coding Accuracy Support System (CASS) certification on individual records to verify that each address matches with the right zip code and delivery route.
#2 Correct for Multiple Deliverability Issues
The second step is to update mail files for multiple potential address and deliverability issues. Mailing files should be:
1) devoid of house file do-not-mail requests;
2) matched against DMAchoice (the Association of National Advertisers—ANA—mail preference service);
3) updated against USPS NCOA to meet Move Update requirements;
4) address-corrected to meet USPS Delivery Point Verification (DPV) standards; and
5) run against other public source databases for records not found with NCOA, such as deceased or prison addresses.
#3 Go Beyond NCOA
Because the USPS FASTforward or NCOALink represent only a portion of total US movers, a third step is to initiate more advanced mover hygiene. At AccuList, we also access the most comprehensive public and private “Mover” databases commercially available to fill in the gaps. We can then identify a much greater number of postal addresses that are verified as Deliverable or Undeliverable As Addressed (UAA).
In fact, this advanced hygiene allows us to identify up to twice the number of address changes versus matching addresses on the NCOA database. And we can not only confirm if the intended recipient is no longer at that address but help find the new address by comparing real-time information.
Via these extra data processing steps, marketers can eliminate duplicate names and addresses, avoid offending those who do not want unsolicited mail, reduce undeliverable mail and wasted postage, and earn postal discounts. An important “byproduct” of this process for prospecting mail is the identification of “multi-buyers.” You can mail them a second time, absolutely free, subject to list owner approval of your mail date and creative!