Address Hygiene: The first step in cleansing your mail file

Eric Niebergall
Director, Data Processing Products & Services

When deploying a direct mail campaign, take into consideration that running proper address hygiene processes can result in saving you thousands of dollars in wasted postage and undeliverable mail.

#1.

What is address hygiene?

Address Hygiene is a process that utilizes USPS postal address hygiene products to standardize, correct, update, and validate the addresses on a mail file. Essentially address hygiene is a process telling you whether or not an address is deliverable or non-deliverable. It is telling you, the marketer, that yes this address does exist and you can mail to it. But that’s it. Outside of NCOA, it doesn’t validate that the person associated to the address on a record is actually still at that address.

#2.

Is this necessary to run on my file?

Yes, direct marketers are required to run their mail files through address hygiene before they send out a direct mail campaign. However, it does provide a significant return on investment relating to wasted postage and printing, so it is a cost-effective solution.

#3.

How clean is my file after running address hygiene? Is this all I need to do?

It’s clean…to an extent. It’s clean to the point of saying that yes, this is an accurate address you have on file but, that’s about it. There are a few additional steps that you need to take to further cleanse your mail file. Our recommended additional steps to further cleanse the mail file:

1. Deceased Flag – Flagging for customers who have passed away. This data is sourced from the SSA (Social Security Administration) and other proprietary sources. When layering on the deceased flag, we can potentially identify 1% or more records that have a deceased individual. Depending on the size of your file, this could result in huge cost savings.

2. Name Validation – This step is key if you’re mailing a file of 24 month or older lapsed customers (meaning the last time they’ve interacted with you). This process takes the full record (Name and Address) and matches it to a national consumer reference file. If they match, it’s considered valid. You can also match it to the household level (Surname and Address). A typical match rate can run between 75% to 95%. 

#4.

What should I do with my records that are not validated?

First off, don’t throw them away! Those records can be appended with additional data points and be reinserted into your direct mail campaigns once further analysis is done.

Author Bio

Eric Niebergall

Eric Niebergall is our resident data processing expert. Having been with Yes Lifecycle Marketing and Infogroup since 1993, Eric brings a wealth of insight, thought leadership and best practices to the direct marketing industry. As Director of our Data Processing products, Eric oversees all operational aspects of our clients' data processing needs.

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