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6 Steps to Take the Junk Out of Direct Mail

June 25, 2012 By Greg Brown
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4. Update the MoversUse Change of Address Data
In the U.S., more than 43 million Americans move each year. Once all the addresses in your list are standardized, deduped and corrected, the next critical step in your data hygiene regimen is to update your list for change-of-address information. The USPS NCOA database contains approximately 160 million records, or 48 months' history of permanent address changes. There are several options for updating lists with change-of-address information. You can become a non-exclusive licensee, use a Web service, or submit lists to a service bureau or mailing house. Service bureaus usually include address verification as part of the process, at no additional cost.

5. Suppress RecordsKeep Unwanted Mail Out of the mailbox
Suppression enables you to remove records from a mailing list based on internal or industry protocol. Eliminating these records trims postage and production costs, reduces waste and enhances your ROI. Take advantage of the DMA "Do Not Contact" data available through service providers to remove consumers who have requested not to receive direct mail. You can also maintain an in-house suppression file that enables customers and prospects to opt-out of your company's mailings on a selective basis. Don't think suppression doesn't make a difference. In one year alone, 930 million pieces of unwanted mail were eliminated by 1,500 U.S. marketers using the DMA's Mail Preference Service.

6. Target EffectivelyMake it Relevant
Do you really need to mail to your entire list? The most relevant messages should reach a target audience of consumers most likely to respond. Discover the demographic and geographic data available through location intelligence and accurate geographical coordinates, business and consumer data appends. Use profiling and filtering to ascertain what your best customers have in common so you can find more just like them. When you initiate a targeted, more personalized marketing campaign, you increase your opportunities for response and growth and reduce waste at the same time.

Take a hard look at your company's green initiatives and determine whether or not the practices in place are indeed "evergreen"—promoting not only environmental conservation, but also sound business practices and solid return on investment to ensure sustainability in any economic conditions. Greening your direct mail does not have to be complicated. List hygiene and targeted communications are only part of the solution, but an essential first step to getting it right.

Greg Brown is vice president of marketing at Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.-based data quality and address management software provider Melissa Data. He can be reached at

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