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4 Address Management Rules to Help Reduce UAA Mail...
...and maybe save a tree or two

By Greg Brown, Marketing Director at Melissa Data

Whether you use your customer database for direct marketing, transactional mailings or provide mailing services for your clients, the latest postal increases—effective May 12, 2008—will have an impact on your bottom line.

When you add the postal increase to skyrocketing energy prices and an uncertain economic outlook for 2008, there is no better time than the present to make some simple changes that will provide immediate ROI. By implementing these four address management rules, you’ll be able to save money, reduce costs, help the environment, and improve response rates.

Rule 1: Clean It Up or Clear It Out
What good is an address if you can’t deliver to it? Undelivered mail is truly junk mail and it costs American businesses over 1.8 billion dollars a year. Not only are companies wasting money on postage and printing, not to mention the waste of paper products and natural resources, they are missing opportunities to communicate with customers and prospects and grow their business.

Data quality and mail preparation software is available to reduce undeliverable as addressed mail by identifying bad, undeliverable-as-addressed records and either correcting and verifying them, or flagging them as undeliverable. That’s your heads up to pull these records from your database and don’t mail to them until you’ve resolved the bad address elements.

Rule 2: Get a Move on It
Another imposing threat to the high cost, and volume of undeliverable mail is your customers – they are a constantly moving target. An estimated 43 million Americans pick up and move every year. That means up to 20 percent of the people or companies in any database could have a new address – a fact that presents some pretty big hurdles to maintain quality mailings lists, and low postage and production costs.

The USPS® maintains a database with approximately 160 million records or 48 months of permanent address changes called NCOALink®. You simply submit your mailing list or contact database to USPS licensed vendors for NCOALink Move-Update service to match your addresses against the database of individuals, families, and businesses that moved and filed a change of address with the Postal Service.

Rule 3: Eliminate Duplicates
Duplicate mail pieces not only annoy recipients, they water down your message, dampen your credibility, and create a tremendous waste of paper, postage, printing, and your marketing dollars. Duplicates also affect the accuracy of customer response analysis and ROI. Considering the average customer database contains 10 percent duplicate records, think what the waste is when those duplicate records themselves have bad, undeliverable addresses!

Your best investment at this point is to take advantage of data hygiene products or services coupled with merge/purge (de-duping) processing to first validate and standardize addresses in order to efficiently detect, and eliminate, the duplicate records.

Rule 4: Put the Power of the ZIP Into Your Mailing
They may look like just nine simple numbers, but to the USPS, they mean fast, efficient postal processing and delivery, fewer returns, and less handling. And to the mailer, they mean assured, expedited delivery, postal discounts when presented with pertinent CASS certification, the potential for even lower rates when you take the time to postal presort, and preventing undeliverable mail pieces to even enter the mailstream in the first place. You also enjoy greater response rates. And that’s what your mailing is all about. Right?

Catching undeliverable mail before it leaves your door is one of the easiest and most effective ways to save on postage, eliminate waste, help reduce negative impact on the environment, while keeping production costs low. Regularly cleansing your database of outdated addresses and duplicate records gives you an additional cost-saving measure to cope with increased postal rates. Employing these four simple address management rules before you seal and stamp the envelopes has never been easier or more affordable, nor has it ever been more of a critical bottom-line issue to the success of your business.

Written by Greg Brown, Marketing Manager at Melissa Data. Melissa Data is an active DMA member, as well as a member of the DMA's List & Database Council. For over 23 years, Melissa Data has been a leading provider of data quality solutions with emphasis on U.S., Canadian, and international address and phone verification, and postal software. Free trial software is available by visiting or by calling 1-800-MELISSA (800-635-4772).

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