Mailings are an essential and beneficial aspect of your organization’s marketing efforts. It allows you to directly reach current or potential customers, for example, letting them know of news or special offers. For non-profit organizations, mailings are crucial to their funding efforts. An accurate, properly formatted and up-to-date mailing list is at the heart of every successful mailing campaign. It must be accurate and, at the same time, be compliant with postal standards.
Here are our top 5 tips for having an optimal mailing list:
1. Update your customers’ database as frequently as possible.
Even though this is a daunting and time-consuming task, it is very important for organizations to keep an updated database of their customers. Fortunately, there is a less painful way of doing this. The next time you do a mailing, make sure to ask your mailing service provider for the final mailing list, as well as both an uncorrected records and change-of-address lists. Most commercial mailing software can auto-format and correct simple mailing issues, as well as connecting to the National Change Of Address (NCOA) database to check if someone in your list has moved. Once you get these, you can assess the situation and update your database accordingly.
2. Information accuracy.
A misspelled street name or the wrong address number could be the difference between a deliverable record or an undeliverable one. Sometimes it even comes down to a single digit or letter for the software to reject an address. If someone in your organization is manually doing the data entry, make sure that they double-check the data.
3. Keep address formatting compliant and consistent.
According to the United States Postal Service, the proper address structure for U.S. addresses consists of address line 1, address line 2, city, state, and zip code. In other words, there should not be any 3rd, 4th or 5th address columns. Keep each part of the mailing addresses in their own column; for example, city, state and zip code should not be in a single column. If you are mailing to organizations, make sure to have a separate column for those and have all those names under it. Do not mix physical and a PO Box addresses in the same column, use separate ones for each. However, apartment and suite numbers are acceptable to be in the same column as the address line.
For more information on the proper address formatting and structure, the U.S. Postal Service has a Delivery Address tips page.
4. Make sure to include all relevant information.
Sometimes submitting only address information in a mailing list is not enough. For example, you are mailing a letter and you need a way to greet the reader by name. For that, you may need an additional “salutation” column if you’re not using the person’s first name. Perhaps there needs to be personalized information within the body of the letter. Make sure you include all pertinent information to ensure a smooth workflow and avoid confusion.
5. Review your mailing list before submitting it!
It is very important for someone in your organization to open and review all mailing lists before submitting them to your mail service provider. It can save time, could potentially prevent interruptions in the workflow, and save you money in undeliverable or duplicate records.
Things to look for when you review your list:
- missing address information, such as address lines or zip codes.
- record count matches your estimates.
- all column headers are properly labeled.
- formatting requirements highlighted on tip #3.
- duplicate records.
- international addresses (they need to be mailed separately).
In conclusion, taking control of your mailing list can help you have a more successful mailing campaign. It can give you a more accurate estimate of the amount of pieces that you are mailing, as well as how much the postage cost will be.
If you need help with your mailing list, we can definitely help. Just give us a call at (413) 534-3303, and we’ll be more than happy to do so!