With the postage rate increate effective May 14, 2007, a first-class stamp will be jumping from $.39 to $.41. This may not seem like a significant increase; however, for businesses direct mailing mass quantities, why waste postage on undeliverable direct mail? Solution: clean up your mailing list!

Whether you are targeting customers each month or just sending direct mailings several times per year, your mailing list is crucial to a successful direct mail marketing program. Let’s assume you are on board with the task at hand, but are overwhelmed with the thought of merging and purging the thousands of names and addresses accumulated over the years that make up your mailing list. Luckily, there are programs and professionals out there who can help.

The first step is to eradicate duplicate addresses within your list. For a nominal fee (in comparison to the postage cost you will accrue without de-duping), a mail house can run your list through software that will purge duplicate addresses. This way, you will not be mailing several postcards to one address because Mr. John Doe also appears on your list as Mr. John A. Doe.

Next, send out a mailing via first class mail with the ‘return to sender’ service offered by the United States Post Office. In this instance, all undeliverable mail will be returned to you (note: be sure to use your address, P.O. box number or store addresses as the return address on the direct mail piece). Now you can delete the undeliverable addresses from your list and make room to acquire new, valid customer addresses!

Tip: in order to de-dupe the returned mailings in-house, ensuring the list gets updated quickly with one person dedicated to the job, this is a perfect task for that college intern!

If you are really serious about cleaning house, you can take your list tidying one step further and ask the mail house you are working with to run your list against the National Change of Address (NCOA) list. This will prevent direct mailings with good addresses from being returned to you in the event that the recipient has moved. For example, 123 Main Street in Anytown, USA 12345 surely exists; however, your recipient Mr. John Doe no longer resides there.

Since you have spent time reviewing and approving the design of your direct mail piece, budgeting for the printing and assuming the cost of postage, why not plan to develop the most cost effective direct mail marketing program possible? Remember, your mailing list works year round for you to target consumers and generate business. Doesn’t your list deserve some attention? Best of luck in your spring cleaning ventures!



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