Increasing Deliverability While Decreasing Marketing and Production Budgets

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April Clark

Industry experts suggest that 25% or more of articles mailed may be undeliverable. Usually these “undeliverables” are the result of incorrect or missing addresses, incomplete information or recipients who have moved. Optimizing address hygiene and cleansing mailing lists to increase the odds of successful delivery will serve to meet institutional recruitment objectives and save money.

Available technology can help you minimize deliverability problems as a result of misdirected, discarded and inaccurate mailings. Using the United States Postal Service and other data sources, CAS? list hygiene methodology, for example, can help you improve address accuracy and mail deliverability.

While a large and growing number of colleges and universities have reaped the rewards of automated solutions in most aspects of enrollment operations ? from reduced costs to improved mail delivery ? too many schools are still clinging to inefficient, costly old ways of mail processing. Nowhere is this truer than with undeliverable-as-addressed (UAA) mail, particularly in the area of outdated addresses. Consider that approximately 8.4% of the addresses on a typical mailing list may become outdated in just six months. We are a highly mobile society! Moreover, recipients who have moved represent the single largest contributor to the UAA mail problem. This is one of the reasons that the US Post Office requires National Change of Address processing to be done every six months in order to use the maximum postal discounts.

Mailers must also consider the direct economic impact of wasted production and postage on mail that is undeliverable. For example, assuming a 10% UAA rate, a 100,000 piece mailing will produce 10,000 pieces that may never reach their intended recipients, resulting in fewer enrollments and lost revenue. If the mail piece cost for production and postage is $0.50, that?s a loss of $5,000 ? multiplied many times over during the course of a year. The combination of wasted production costs and the inability to influence up to ten percent of the prospective student pool could be devastating.

The CASS certification process is the first step in cleansing a mailing list. An address that has been matched to Postal Service ZIP + 4 files has a much greater chance of being delivered than one that has not. Any addresses that cannot be assigned a ZIP + 4 are most likely UAA. They might still get delivered, but there is some basic problem that will interfere with the process. When sending UAA mail at Standard mail rates, the odds of them being delivered are significantly lower than properly ZIP + 4 encoded pieces ? and, in fact, the greater likelihood is that they will simply be discarded by the Postal Service. When mailing a marketing piece, our advice is to simply consider omitting any UAA records first.

According to the Postal Service, missing apartment/suite or rural route box numbers is the most common undeliverable mail problem. USPS processing attempts to add missing apartment/suite numbers or rural route numbers to your address files prior to processing the database through the USPS National Change of Address (NCOA-Link), can make the match process more successful.

NCOA-Link uses apartment/suite or rural route numbers as strict criteria for a match to the USPS change-of-address file. If this information is missing, no change-of-address match can be made. Many records may still be undeliverable due to incomplete address information. For example, if the correct address is 100 Main Street and your records show this address as 100 M S, CASS certification software may not be able to ZIP + 4 code your record. Using proprietary Address Enhancement methodology, we compare name and ZIP Code in an incomplete address to our proprietary Consumer File which attempts through programming logic to correct the address provided.

The DSF/DPV product uses a file of all the valid addresses in the U.S. to match against your database to identify any records that do not match with at least one of more than 60 footnotes – providing the reasons for non-matches or identifying whether the addresses are other types of delivery points such as mail drops, multifamily units, business addresses and seasonal addresses. This reduces the amount of mail being sent to ?non valid addresses? and unqualified student prospects.

On average, nearly one-quarter of the records in a two year old list changed addresses. This is important information for schools recruiting adult, distance-learning or graduate students. If you mail to your database at first class discounted rate, the US Postal Service requires that some form of a Move Update process be performed. The most thorough, proactive method of updating a list with change-of-address information is NCOALink processing. NCOALink searches for names of individuals and family groups using addresses already run through the CASS process, identifying who has moved and filed a change-of-address with the USPS within the last 18 or 48 months. Confirmed moves are provided with updated standardized addresses.

There is another category of bad addresses that without ?cleansing? could end up in the Postal Service dumpster – those that have been changed by local governments, usually to make them ?locatable? by 9-1-1 emergency response services. LACSLink processing provides address conversions for rural route-style addresses that have been converted to city-style addresses and existing city-style addresses that have been renamed or renumbered.

There are those that may appear on your mailing lists who may be deceased. Our Deceased Suppression identifies those records and enables you to remove them before mailing.

Finally, our cleansing merge purge methodology identifies duplicate records at an individual, household or company level and eliminates those duplicates, leaving you with an unduplicated file. With postal rates going up again in 2007, accurately eliminating duplicates is imperative to your bottom line. Communication is so important in all aspects of enrollment management. Taking additional steps to make sure you increase the likelihood that prospective students receive your messages while eliminating wasted production costs makes sense.

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