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.
Every direct mail letter should strive to make a connection between the letter writer and the recipient. Response rates can be dramatically increased by forming a common bond between the writer and the recipient.
The first step in creating such a bond is to know your mailing list. By studying the demographics of the mailing list, the letter can be carefully crafted to draw in the reader, and the longer that your letter engages the reader, the more likely you are to receive a response.
- In the first scenario, the agent writes a generic letter that extols the benefits of a new policy her company is promoting.
- In the second scenario, the agent makes use of the knowledge that when she purchased her mailing list she had used a “Presence of Children” demographic selection. With this knowledge in mind, she opens her letter by saying…”With three small children of my own, I often wonder what would happen to them if something were to happen to me.”
Every parent at one time or another has worried about how their children would be taken care of if something were to happen to them. With that simple opening sentence, she has now made a connection with the recipients of her letters. The recipients now have a common bond to the letter writer and a reason to keep on reading. The balance of the letter still goes on to promote the insurance policy.
- There are no additional out of pocket costs to write a letter that creates a bond between the recipient and yourself.
- Improved response rates that are generated when a bond is created and that means additional revenue in your pocket.
Take the time to analyze your database and then create that special letter, which will make a connection between you and the recipient, you’ll be glad you did.
Learn More at…
Consumer Demographics help make a strong connection.
With FNBR’s mailing services, we can help you create a connection.
About FNBR Incorporated
FNBR is a marketing company located in Tampa, Florida. FNBR offers mailing lists, database management services, typesetting and graphic design services, printing and bindery services, email marketing, and complete direct mail services to companies throughout the U.S. and Canada. FNBR can be reached at 1-888-988-8148.
I know that this is your first time mailing, so I’m going to cut you a bit of slack.
Yes, I agree that the USPS rules and regulations are about as complicated as a schematic to build the space shuttle.
You’re right. There is no Do-It-Yourself Heath Kit solution for direct mail, despite what the overly optimistic USPS publications promise.
For starters, your hair was on fire when your secretary contacted us. She explained you had to get your mail out fast! No problem. We can handle it. We do “fast” every day.
She said you wanted to mail 4.25×6” postcards. That’s OK by us.
She said you would print and provide the cards to us. And you wanted to mail at First Class (I talked her into First Class Presort, thus saving you about 7 cents each in postage, remember?)
She said your list was regional, and for us to please provide you with a quote based on those premises. “Then I’ll turn you over to my boss,” she concluded sweetly.
It looked like it was coming to together well. 4.25×6” is a perfect size to mail at First Class Presort. It’s a post office pricing sweet spot. Your job looked like a cream puff, a walk-in-the-park.
And then the wheels started to fall off your wagon.
You and I “met” by email, but never spoke. That’s a problem, but I won’t dwell on your invisible cloaking device here. Despite my inability to reach you by phone so we could clear everything up in 5 minutes, we exchanged emails for 2 days about indicias, wording, positioning, barcode clear zones and other postal related things. Eventually I thought we had everything squared away.
On Tuesday your cards arrived. They were nicely designed and beautifully printed. But they were 6×8″, not 4.25×6″.
Sorry. It was a big deal. While I agree 100% with your decision to upsize from a marketing perspective (and would urge any of my clients to do the same thing) changing the size changed the postal rates—and your quote—totally.
Instead of 20.9 cents postage per card, your rate was going to be 33.5 cents a card.
“That’s over my budget!” you yelped. (Now you could pick up the phone and call me!) “What can you do?”
“Mail at Standard rate,” I countered. “Your postage will be about 23.3 cents each. It will take longer to be delivered, but you’ll be back in the budget range. Of course we’ll need to X-out the wrong language on the indicia and overprint with the right language, but this is do-able.”
First crisis averted, but the second was approaching fast.
Your data arrived. As per our arrangement, we cleaned it, NCOA’d it, presorted it and were preparing to address your cards when you realized you had sent the wrong data. You sent the data three times before you got it right. And then you asked us to merge/purge the various files against each other to be sure you hadn’t sent any duplicates.
At the end of the day, your regional list was national. Surprise!
“Bad news,” we told you again. “Your data is national, not regional. As a result, your postage is nearly 28 cents each. You lost the address density that the USPS rewards with lower pricing.”
Oh, yes. Another itsy bitsy point: your data was 7,000 records; we had quoted on 5,000. And you question why you were over budget?
You were backed into a corner. Your hair was still on fire; the event you were promoting was now less than a week away. There were no options. You sucked it up; we mailed your job.
Now you’ve come to me (by email, naturally) to ask me how to do your job better next time.
- Know your data. That’s the #1 thing that can make postage and production estimates go bad. Since you didn’t know if it was regional or national—and you didn’t even know the count—it led to several huge miscalculations.
- Realize that a postage estimate is an estimate. Until the data goes through data processing, we can only provide you with an estimate. Of course, if you tell us one thing and it proves to be another, then all bets are off. Oops!
- Assign one person to handle the job. In time, this person will become knowledgeable about USPS rules and regulations. Once he/she knows the rules, the budget-busting misunderstandings will decrease enormously.
- Don’t change your package without checking for unintended consequences. An innocent change can be costly. As you found out.
- Find a reliable direct mail provider partner to work with you. Then follow their instructions. Don’t go rogue. The USPS punishes rogues.
Thank you for giving us the opportunity to educate you about the US Postal System. We’re sorry that your education was painful. But that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
Or so they say.
FNBR Inc. can be reached at 1-888-988-8148 or by email at email@example.com.
Used with the permission of the author — Ellen Paul of Paul&Partners