Is mail a significant cost center for your organization?  Optimizing the quality of your address data can help you avoid potential waste.

To do so, you’ll need to apply a range of addressing tools, and develop a disciplined management plan which you’ll adjust over time. This plan will enable you to respond to new needs, and will reflect the evolving and improving quality of the data. In an earlier blog post, we reviewed the problems caused by bad data. Here, we’ll review the cost drain, and best practices for improving your data.

The Cost of Inefficient Mailing

The cost of inaccurate and incomplete addresses has never been higher. The Postal Service spends $1.28 billion each year to handle undeliverable as addressed (UAA) mail. The impact on mailers, however, is closer to $20.5 billion, not including potential industry-specific fines or penalties.

  • Assuming a 1-million-piece annual mailing volume, consider this back-of-the-envelope calculation: For every piece of mail you send, you spend at least 40 cents just on the mailpiece itself, between postage, insertion, and presorting costs.
  • Assuming the USPS average undeliverable rate of 5 percent, 50,000 mailpieces don’t get delivered each year.
  • Wasted cost: $20,000. Add USPS forwarding and return charges, and the costs are significantly increased.

However, the true cost of a mailpiece that doesn’t get delivered goes well beyond postage and related costs – it includes everything from the delayed remittances and customer follow up, to lost sales and marketing opportunities, to reduced cash flow and customer dissatisfaction.

New Census Method for Move Update

January 21, 2018 will kick off the USPS’ new census method for Move Update assessments, replacing the current MERLIN® sampling method. The new census sampling method will have a tolerance of .5 percent with a penalty rate of $.08/piece for pieces above the threshold.

Here’s the implication for mailers:

  • US Postal Inspection Service audits and assessments will determine if you are using an approved Move Update Method to update all addresses prior to mailing.
  • Several industries have additional state and federal government regulations. They restrict the types of addresses that are allowed to be used, what can or must be done to maintain those addresses, what can or cannot be suppressed, and what information can be included.
  • Violations of these regulations result in penalties in the thousands – or even tens of thousands – of dollars per occurrence.

Following is a list of 10 best practices to manage and optimize your valuable address data.  The more consistently you adopt these practices, the higher the quality of your database, and the better your return on investment (ROI).

Best Practices for Quality Addressing and Mailing

  1. Know Your Data Value
  2. Get It Right from the Start
  3. Update Addresses Before You Mail
  4. Clean Your List as Close as Possible to the Mail Drop
  5. Learn from Your Mailing
  6. Close the Loop on UAA Mail
  7. Apply Business Rules to Available Data
  8. Ensure Your Addresses Meet Business Compliance Standards
  9. Get Audit Protection to Guard Against Fines
  10. Customize to Meet Your Various Needs

A vital aspect of a strong customer relationship is a strong mail program — and addresses are the engine that drives that program. The better the quality of your addresses, the more effectively you can achieve your organizational goals. The best practices outlined above keep mailing costs in check and avoid compliance-related penalties.

Learn how to execute these best practices by downloading our e-book – “Closing the Loop on Undeliverable Mail: 10 Best Practices that Business Mailers Should Adopt to Ensure Their Addresses are Correct, Complete, Current and Compliant.”

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