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6 Steps to Take the Junk Out of Direct Mail

June 25, 2012 By Greg Brown
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The focus on green initiatives has become a respected—and expected—business practice in today's world. It not only promotes a more efficient management of resources, it cuts down on unnecessary costs, as well. While mail volume may be down for good in the U.S., direct mail is still an integral part of marketing a company's products and services—and doing it well has the potential to make or break any campaign. With fewer mail pieces entering the system, it is even more critical to take an über-attentive approach to direct mailing operations.

Every part of the direct mail life cycle has potential for achieving environmental, economic and social benefits—from mail piece design and mailing list preparation to post-delivery management. But to effectively green the mailing process, the best place to start is list maintenance and target marketing. The following mailing processes are not only green, but make good business sense and have the potential to get any direct mail campaign off to a great start:

1. Address DataConsistency Is Key
The addresses in your database must be in a consistent and correct format to facilitate the highest match rates and most efficient data hygiene processing. The better organized your data to begin with, the better your results will be in applying each of following steps. Take the time to set up a proficient program for placing your contact data, especially address elements, into appropriate, consistent fields.

2. DedupeMerge-purge for Savings
Duplicates happen. A standardized, consistently fielded database will produce efficient match recognition and decrease the likelihood of duplicate entries. Duplicate mail not only irritates customers, it collects in trash cans and landfills and can ultimately tarnish your brand image. It also costs you additional money on postage and printing, with zero added benefit at the door. It is well worth the effort to schedule routine deduping, whether using a merge-purge program in-house or a service bureau.

3. Fix ItValidate and Correct for Accurate Delivery
Always use address validation and correction software or a service bureau before you execute any direct mail campaign to clean up lists and standardize address data. This includes repairing address information, filling in missing elements, standardizing address formats to respective postal requirements and flagging addresses that cannot be corrected and may require further attention or removal. Addresses that cannot be validated for accurate delivery may not qualify for postal discounts. These mail pieces will probably not be delivered or returned, and will just add density to your carbon footprint. Look for mailing programs that are USPS CASS Certified to validate and correct U.S. addresses.

 

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