Many times, our direct mail data files get old and need a little TLC before we can mail to them. Not only does the post office require you to keep addresses up-to-date, but you don’t want to be wasting money sending pieces that are not going to the intended recipients. There are several options to clean up your data files.
Methods to clean data:
- CASS — The Coding Accuracy Support System is a certification system from the United States Postal Service for address validation. A CASS-certified address validation will standardize your mailing list, update outdated addresses, and verify that addresses are valid and complete.
- DPV — The Delivery Point Validation service is a process of verifying that an address is actually deliverable, meaning that mail can be sent to that address. A delivery point is a single mailbox or other place at which mail is delivered. It differs from a street address, in that each address may in fact have several delivery points, such as an apartment or office.
- ACS — Address Change Service is a post mailing service that allows mailers to receive change-of-address and other reasons for non-delivery electronically to reduce the number of manual address notifications. This allows you to update your list after an initial mailing and prior to the next one.
- NCOA — NCOALink product is a database of approximately 160 million permanent change-of-address records consisting of names and addresses of individuals, families and businesses who have filed a change of address with the Postal Service.
- PCOA/ACOA — The Priority Change of Address and Ancillary Change of Address services allow access to more than 60 million address changes reported by sources other than USPS. This allows you additional ways to find consumers who have moved. Changes are contributed by publishers, catalogers, retailers and other institutions, nationwide. It covers a 60-month time period.
- Apartment Append — Apartment Append will correct records on your file that have been identified by the DPV process as having either incorrect or missing apartment numbers. After the records are identified, the Apartment Append process updates the missing or incorrect information.
- Duplicate Processing — Finding Duplicate records used to be a problem — as they may not match exactly, but still be the same. You can now match accurately even with abbreviations and nicknames to remove real duplicates from your data file.
- Deceased Processing — Deceased processing enables you to eliminate deceased individuals from your list. The file contains approximately 40 million records relating to deceased individuals.
- Canadian Address Processing — Canadian Address Verification validates, corrects and standardizes Canadian postal addresses.
As you can see, there are many ways to clean your data files before and, in some cases, after you mail. The incentive to do this cleaning is that it can save you money. There is no reason to send mail to people who are not there. In cases where you are mailing presorted standard or nonprofit, you may never know that the post office is throwing the undeliverable pieces away. You can use an endorsement to get those returns, but why not clean your data first then send to only good addresses?
As of January 2018, the USPS changed the method for measuring Move Update compliance to a Census-based approach. The Census Method uses Mail Processing scans to determine compliance. The Census-based assessments will start in April 2018, based on March mailing data. You need to make sure your data is up-to-date, or you will pay the penalty. Are you ready to get started cleaning your data files?