Many of our clients maintain their own client or prospect lists. It is not a stretch of the imagination to say that these databases are the lifeblood of these businesses and that proper maintenance of these databases is an important step in maintaining a revenue stream for these companies.
In order to keep these databases accurate, there are three important steps that need to be followed. The first two steps are FNBR’s responsibility, but the last and perhaps the most important step must be done by the list owner.
- Correcting the spelling of street and city names.
- Correct/Add suffixes such as Drive, Way etc.
- Correct/Add a zip code & zip plus 4
- Add missing unit numbers for businesses
The next process is called NCOA or National Change of Address. In this process your database is run against an updated post office file of address changes that have occurred during the past 48 months. When there is a match between your database and the NCOA file, the software will update to the new address that it is on file. There are cases when the post office knows that a person/family or business has moved, but they have not filed a change of address with the post office. In these cases, the address cannot be updated but is noted.
The last step in this process that needs to be done is for our clients to use the NCOA address corrections to update their databases. The reason that this is critical is that 48 months after an address correction has been filed with the post office, it is deleted from the NCOA database. During this 48 month period, FNBR has been correcting the addresses every time we do a mailing for you. The problem is that if you don’t correct the address on your database, after 48 months the NCOA software will no longer indicate that an address is incorrect. This means that your client that moved four years ago is no longer going to receive your mail and worse yet you won’t even know that. This is a lose/lose situation for you. You are paying for printing and postage that will never get to the intended recipient and you are not getting any new orders from what is now a former client because they don’t receive your mail.
To learn about all the database services we provide, please visit our Database Services page at fnbr.com/Database-Services.html. FNBR will be happy to supply you with the corrected mailing addresses each time we NCOA a file for you. Just let your sales representative know by calling 888-988-8148 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
When you meet someone, you only get one chance at a first impression. The same is true for the recipient’s name and address on your direct mail. The address block is the first place the recipient looks, and even more importantly, it contains their personal information.
The same thought and planning that went into the rest of your mailing should go into the presentation of the recipient’s name and address. The following are some common mistakes that are made when addressing mailers:
Even if the database is in all caps, it should be converted to upper and lower case. It is also very important that upper case is being added only where it is grammatically correct. For Example:
- Usa Manufacturing Association (Incorrect Capitalization)
- USA MANUFACTURING ASSOCIATION (Ugly Capitalization)
- USA Manufacturing Association (Correct Capitalization)
You wouldn’t write the content of your mailers without proper punctuation, why would you allow the address to be presented that way? One of the most common mistakes is not using a period after an abbreviation.
Many databases contain company names and titles that are very long. If this is not taken into consideration, the name or the title will end up being cutoff when your mailer is being addressed. Think of how embarrassing it is to have the word “Association” get cut off after the first three letters.
Certain items like a Bar Code must be added to reduce your postage, but you should only add what is necessary. For instance, the Optional Endorsement Line (OEL) is not always necessary. Placing an OEL (************Auto**SCH 5-Digit 34420) right above the recipient’s name only adds clutter and identifies your mail piece as bulk mail. Many mailers do this for their own convenience, sacrificing your quality. FNBR does not.
Since a lot of direct mail includes your house mailing lists, we thought we would discuss the “data toolbox”. Most of your contacts are developed over the years from prospecting, prior customers, donors, etc. And once the contact is added to your database, it’s rarely updated. That’s where we come in.
The most valuable tool in the data cleaning toolbox is NCOA. Short for National Change of Address, if your contact has moved and completed a change-of-address with the USPS in the last 4 years, we’ll mail to their new address.
If you are mailing at first class rates, the post office will forward your mail to the updated address on file for 12-months. This is time consuming since the mail must be re-routed, and if you have a time sensitive offer, your postage may end up being wasted. If you are using Standard Mail, the mail piece will not be forwarded at all.
NCOA is a quick, efficient and inexpensive way of keeping mailing lists up to date. If you are purchasing a list through FNBR, you can be assured that the mailing list has already been NCOA’d and we will provide you with the date that the NCOA certificate* is good through. If you are supplying your own mailing list for FNBR to use, we can NCOA update the list for you.
NCOA is one of the many software tools that FNBR uses to keep your mailing costs streamlined and your mail delivered as quickly as possible.
Other Tools Include:
- CASS – Address correction, including DPV, LACSLink and SuiteLink processing which adds missing postal data like ZIP+4, carrier route, eLOT and more.
- ECOA (Extended Change-of-Address) – Updates addresses using sources other than the USPS NCOALink file, including magazine subscriptions, catalogs, insurance and credit companies. Identify up to 20% more moves up to 5 years old.
- Apartment Number – Appends residential unit numbers based on the submitted name and address. Complements SuiteLink processing, which appends unit numbers for business addresses, to further reduce undeliverable and misdirected mail.
- Suppression Suite – Flags records that match entries in do-not-mail, deceased person and correctional facility lists. Improve mailing ROI by removing people that are unwilling or unable to respond.
For more information on applying these data tools to your database, or other postage saving techniques, please email us at email@example.com or call toll free 888-988-8148.
*NCOA Certified mailing lists qualify for Automation postage discounts for 95 days from the date of certification.