Data Accuracy and Hygiene Tips for Direct Mail Lists
With the surge of data available to marketers, direct mail marketers must be aware of the impact that data quality has on the success of a campaign. Naturally, the better the data, the better the results.
And with the convenience provided by mail management software, marketers may be lulled into thinking of these technological tools as “magic wands.” Don’t fall prey to this complacency – even the most advanced mail management software still requires human interaction and understanding for optimal outcomes.
If you are responsible for direct mail marketing, align yourself with others in your organization who have expertise in data quality. Then arm yourself with the following tips to better optimize your list data:
- Understand postal regulations
Often, undeliverable mail that may seem to be due to software failures is actually the result of data files not meeting postal address regulations. It’s worth your while to educate yourself on the way these regulations work—they will affect the number of returns and whether you receive your bulk mailing postage discount:
- Coding Accuracy Support System (CASS). The USPS developed this certification process to ensure that mailing list addresses are complete and accurate. In other words, it’s how USPS determines if an address actually exists. CASS also standardizes the address to the format the USPS prefers.
- National Change of Address (NCOA). It’s estimated that 17% of the U.S. population moves each year. NCOA is the USPS dataset of permanent change-of-address records filed by individuals, families, and businesses.
- Check mail list data for common errors
Data errors in your direct mail lists can wreak havoc with postal regulations. Direct mail software and vendors are licensed to access CASS and NCOA databases, but even they can’t prevent some of the common errors that will cause un-deliverables. This is where data quality control comes in.
- Avoid including excess information in your data files
Make sure your files aren’t overrun with extra information that isn’t necessary to the project. For example, let’s say you’re working with a list from a university alumni organization. If you only need a name and street address, don’t include information that may have come with list entries, such as the amount of the individual’s last donation. Clean your list up before sending it off to your direct mail vendor.
- Choose your direct mail vendor carefully
Not all are created equal. Consider the vendor’s level of experience, how long they’ve been in business, and their knowledge of postal regulations. Make sure you’re working with a vendor who’s taking the initiative to clean lists. You could also benefit from working with a vendor with expertise specific to your industry.
- Research your mail management software
Direct mail marketers do have a choice when it comes to mail management software that will CASS and NCOA files. There are several available, so investigate which will be best for your needs. Speed may vary, as might other capabilities.
Could you use some further expertise on this issue? Strata Company has been a leader in data-driven direct mail for nearly two decades. Contact us to find out how we can help you design an effective direct mail program.Back to Blog