Spring Cleaning: Our Best List Hygiene Tips

Every household has their own spring cleaning rituals. At the Ruppel residence, it’s yard clean-up. Uncovering gardens, picking up branches and disposing of doggy “deposits” are necessary tasks my wife and I complete each year. Although it’s not always fun, it’s important if we want to enjoy our yard during the all-too-short summers in Minnesota. Just like a house needs to be cleaned with some regularity, direct mail lists need to be cleaned regularly too. After all, proper list hygiene is an important aspect of making the most of your direct mail efforts.

Americans Are On-the-Go, Are You Keeping Up?

List hygiene is especially important when you consider that upwards of 40 million Americans (more than 12% of the U.S. population) change their addresses every year. As a rule of thumb, up to 1% of the recipients on an average list will move each month. This varies a bit by demographics – more affluent people tend to move less often; less affluent people tend to move more often. More importantly, USPS regulations call for move update processing every 95 days and CASS processing every 90 days for carrier route sorted mail or 180 days for automation mail. Maintaining accurate mailing lists also dramatically reduces the amount of undeliverable mail, reducing waste and costs. Most marketing mail is Standard Mail. The default handling of Undeliverable-as-Addressed (UAA) Standard Mail by the USPS is to dispose of the mailpiece. That can lead to a lot of missed opportunities and wasted effort! In FY 2012, nearly four billion pieces of Standard Mail were discarded as UAA at a cost of nearly $228 million to the Postal Service. This doesn’t include the costs to you, which include production costs (printing, lists, personalization, assembly) and postage (often the largest portion of your direct mail spend). It also results in opportunity costs such as lower response rates and lost sales due to the offer never reaching the intended recipient.

The Three Cs of Address Quality

Fortunately, proper list hygiene can be a lot easier and more fun than many tedious spring cleaning tasks. The key is to focus on the three Cs of address quality:

  1. Complete: Are all the required elements of the address present?
  2. Correct: Are all the address elements accurate?
  3. Current: Does the address reflect the recipient’s most recent move?

In order to ensure the freshest and most accurate addresses, we recommend scheduling address hygiene as close as possible to your intended mail drop. Also, be sure to make use of the tools the USPS provides including:

  • CASS processing to ensure complete, correct addresses
  • NCOALINK or other move update options to ensure current addresses
  • Address Element Correction (AEC and AEC II) for in-depth evaluation of problem addresses

At IWCO Direct, we make the process even easier for our customers by supporting a full range of address hygiene options to ensure complete, correct and current addresses on your mail. We offer CASS-certified address processing including Delivery Point Validation (DPV) and LACSLINK. We are a licensee of the Postal Service for the NCOALINK product and also support use of ACS for post mailing move updates. IWCO Direct’s proprietary process to incorporate address hygiene at the last possible point in the production process increases response by incorporating the most recently available data into the process. If you have any questions about proper list hygiene, feel free to send me a note. Just don’t ask me to help with your other spring cleaning projects!

Blog Author

Kurt Ruppel
Marketing Services Manager and graduate of Utah State University. Bringing the “all of us know more than any of us” business philosophy to IWCO Direct for more than 30 years (oy!). Two-time IWCO Direct President’s Award winner, bicycling enthusiast and Ohio State Buckeye Football fan.

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