3. Fix It—Validate 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.
4. Update the Movers—Use 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 Records—Keep 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.
Greg Brown is vice president of Melissa, provider of global contact data quality and identity verification solutions that span the entire data quality lifecycle and integrate into CRM, e-commerce, master data management and Big Data platforms. Connect with Greg at firstname.lastname@example.org or via LinkedIn.