Direct Mail Savings 101: Keep Your Lists Clean

Every response and every sale matters. A lot. Most marketers face stiff competition, and constantly seek out new methods to help buoy their efforts. Take a few minutes to read through this first installment of our series on Direct Mail Savings 101. The potential for you to identify new methods to boost your ROI and response rates will make it worth your time.

We just covered How to Determine the Ideal Frequency for your Ongoing Direct Mail Campaign, and now it’s time to get after sharing the things you can do to get ahead faster with your campaigns.

It’s easy to see why you might be thinking “if this is 101 I probably know all of this stuff already!” However, the statistics suggest many are unaware of these concepts. It is estimated that 8% of mail is returned each year. That means a whole lot of people are spending a whole lot of money on mailing things to the wrong people at the wrong address.

Using current, fresh lists with accurate address information and sending mailpieces to those addresses using the best shipping method will lower your total mailing cost while raising response rates. Let’s discuss how!

Cross Reference your List against the National Change of Address (NCOA)

People move. Things change. Often. In fact, statistics show that over 40 million Americans change their address annually. That is why it is so important that your database is actively updated and current. NCOA – a “secure dataset of approximately 160 million change of addresses that enables mailers to update mailing lists with new addresses from individuals, families and businesses that have moved” – is a great tool to use when it comes to managing your lists.

Make sure that your direct mail partner maximizes the advantages of the NCOA.

Beyond the NCOA

In reality, however, the NCOA is just an updating tool. It helps, but every mail house worth its salt uses it. A more telling differentiator between direct mail providers is what they do for you beyond running lists through the NCOA.

The best direct mail partners stick out from the pack by adding value and improving the files you already have.  You should not have to guess what they are doing either. Your direct mail provider should be able to present to you in spreadsheet form the results of their data improvements.

Other ways your direct mail provider can add value include

  • Using a SmartMailer program,
  • Leveraging USPS’s MERLIN (Mail Evaluation Readability Lookup Instrument) program, and
  •  Using intelligent software that fixes human data entry errors. In addition to automatically matching addresses to correct zip codes, it is possible to correct abbreviations and fill in missing contact info.

Another point to consider is how you’ll be charged for these services. As you’d imagine, if you pay each time a list is revised, de-duped, and updated you’ll be paying a lot…often. Make sure you work with a partner like Allegiant Marketing Group that offers this service free of charge as part of our comprehensive service package, and you’ll be able to improve the quality of the lists you have and the lists you wish to build in cost-effective fashion.

Wrap Up

Some avenues to savings have better signage than others. That’s why it pays to have a partner on the team who can identify and take advantage of these avenues for you. For every one of these paths to savings that you take, there’s a dollar to be made. AMG lowers the rate of undeliverable mail for our partners from the nationwide average of 8% to 5%. Find out more about our SmartMailer technology, and the other ways in which we go beyond the NCOA to find and pass savings on to our partners.


Look for our next blog:
Direct Mail Savings 101 (Part 2)
List Targeting & Demographics: Save Money by Using Lists Targeted to Match Your Client Base’s Demographics.

Eric Weisgarber

Eric Weisgarber is the founder and President of Allegiant Marketing Group, Inc. His calling is helping business professionals grow their gross profits, net profits, and cash-flow through through marketing services, systems implementation and consulting. His business calling is aligned with his life\’s purpose – developing people and serving the community through discipleship.



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