With the recent postal increase set to generate $2 billion in annual revenue for the Postal Service, this might be a big wake-up call for mailers. As pricing pressures continue to mount, it's more critical than ever for mailers to ensure that each mailpiece contains the most accurate contact information to increase deliverability. Every mailpiece that fails to reach its intended recipient leads to lost opportunities, unnecessary costs, or a diminished brand experience - a devastating blow to your business. So don't overlook the key to success-- a quality mailing list.


How can you be confident that the information in your mailing list or database is accurate and up-to-date? Verifying and standardizing your contact data is the most important, cost-effective step to achieving a clean database. Mailers can employ a CASS-Certified address verification and cleansing solution that will validate, correct, and standardize customer address data to qualify for the highest postal discounts.

You'll also want to integrate SuiteLink into your operations, as it takes care of adding known secondary suite information to a business address - a critical element to improving mail deliverability. Adding missing apartment numbers based on the contact's last name is another capability to think about incorporating into your business.

What about movers? Of course, there's NCOALink and other types of move update processing, but what about those movers who don't file a change-of-address (COA) form with the USPS? To identify those movers, there are databases that contain 60 months (5 years) of address changes. This type of database - known as Multisource Change of Address (mCOA) - consists of 121 million records from sources including magazine subscriptions, catalogs, insurance companies, and other datasets.

Another issue mailers should keep in mind is globalization. As you expand your mailings outside of the US, you will encounter address data that comes in different formats, character sets, and languages, which could pose a big challenge.

There are mailing solutions that correct and standardize address information for hundreds of countries and territories, whether it's a canton, county, state, province, or prefecture. Some solutions can go the extra step, offering the ability to transliterate global address data to better standardize your records. Transliteration is the process of converting words or letters in one script to another script. For example, if you have an address that is in simplified Chinese characters, a vendor can transliterate it to Latin - making it easier to read for more efficient delivery, and help mailers manage their data better.

Verifying and standardizing your global addresses not only lowers costs due to fewer undeliverable mail shipments, but it also improves the matching and consolidation of duplicate records.


An estimated 10% of names and addresses in an average database are duplicates. Conflicting data is corruptive to the integrity of your database and prevents organizations from gaining a single, unified view of their contact data. Duplicate records come from many sources including data entry errors, acquisitions or mergers, legacy systems and data migrations. These issues add the costs of your mailing operations - in the form of returned or undeliverable mail, missed opportunities, and erroneous views of information.

Identifying duplicates and merge/purging them are critical actions needed to improve the quality of your list and optimize your mailing efforts.

Still, the process is easier said than done. Most databases contain "non-exact matching" duplicate records, which are very difficult to identify. For example, an "Abby Lewis" might be listed as "Lewis, Abigail" in another database, but the two names are the same person.

Mailers might want to consider looking into solutions that can not only weed out duplicates, but also merge multiple records into one "Golden Record." A Golden Record is the best and most accurate record in a group of duplicates.

There are also solutions that offer deep domain-specific knowledge and fuzzy matching logic - to help identify more obscure duplicate records - such as nicknames and abbreviations and addresses that come in different formats. Fuzzy matching is an advanced mathematical process that determines similarities between data sets, information, and facts.

By eliminating duplicate records in a mailing list, and bringing out the most accurate record in a group of duplicates - you can reduce unnecessary printing, postage, and mailing/shipping costs.


"Undeliverable" is the dreaded word every mailer fears. One of the causes of undeliverable mail? It's the estimated 40 million people that change their addresses each year, according to a 2014 USPS report. People are not static, which means that customer data is also in flux. As a result, within a year, 13% of the contact data in your list becomes outdated and incorrect.

Implementing change-of-address processing to regularly update the contact data you mail to, will reduce and prevent undeliverable mail. NCOALink is a database owned and operated by the USPS. It contains about 160 million permanent change-of-address (COA) records filed with the USPS over the last 48 months. Mailers can have their lists matched against the NCOALink database to identify individuals, families and businesses that have moved and completed a USPS COA form.

Accessing NCOALink is now easier than ever. Mailers can send their files to a licensed NCOALink vendor via email or through a more secure FTP transfer. The turnaround is typically one to two business days depending on the time of the day the vendor receives the file and paperwork. Most vendors can usually accommodate a same-day processing request.

Some vendors now offer automated Web services for mailers that frequently process files and require fast turnarounds. Utilizing a Web service allows the mailer to build a seamless address verification and updating process into their application, so there is no transfer of files or formatting issues. The process occurs in real-time, so a mailer can process an unlimited number of records 24/7 without having to wait for a vendor to process and return the updated file.


Mailers can avoid the costs associated with mailing to uninterested recipients, such as those who have registered with the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) Do-Not-Mail list, by deleting their records from your list.

Mailers can also remove the records of those who can't take advantage of your offer, like those who are in federal or state prisons, or other correctional facilities.

Mailing to a deceased member of a household can also negatively impact your company's image and be potentially embarrassing. Avoid this unfortunate situation by flagging and removing their records from your list.


Mailers can enhance the value of the database by adding more critical pieces of information, such as email addresses, phone numbers, demographic, and geographic data (latitude and longitude coordinates). This helps mailers better understand who they're trying to reach and expand marketing opportunities.

And, if you provide fulfillment, you can optimize shipments and ensure deliverability across the board - by looking for a vendor that can verify delivery to over 5 million non-USPS addresses. These addresses include many smaller and rural communities that the USPS does not directly deliver to.

Since 2006, Greg Brown has been in charge of the company's brand management, business to business, internet and email marketing strategies. Having worked for over 15 years on both the client and agency side, he brings a unique perspective to developing creative, results-oriented marketing programs to acquire and retain customers. Prior to joining Melissa Data, Brown was marketing manager for Newport Corporation, a 400-million dollar laser manufacturing company in Irvine, CA. He is a DMA-certified Marketing Professional with a bachelor's degree in English from the University of California, Santa Barbara and a Juris Doctorate from Western State University College of Law.