Seven Tips to Stem Losses from Unaccounted Movers
Each year, direct mailers lose millions of dollars due to a seemingly uncontrollable problem: unaccounted for movers. The U.S. Postal Service reports that 14.2 percent of Americans move to a new address each year. Of these movers, approximately 10 percent to 20 percent never report their new address to the USPS.
The losses add up quickly, even from one mailing. There’s the expense of printing and mailing an undeliverable piece as well as the lost sales from the relocated buyer. For a mailing of 1 million pieces that costs $0.55 each and nets $2.50 in revenue per piece, the losses can total more than $365,000.
Here are seven ways to keep up with new movers.
1. Match customer files against the National Change of Address (NCOA) database. The full NCOA database contains approximately 160 million customer-reported change of address records from the last 48 months. A limited version containing 60 million records for the past 18 months also is available. Using the USPS licensed NCOALink process, most mailers can expect an annualized match of 10 to 12 percent. NCOALink security dictates a strict matching process, so movers can be harder to find if the list isn’t very clean.
2. Use Address Correction Service (ACS). The USPS’ ACS involves putting special wording and coding on mailpieces that instructs the USPS to compare the mailed address to the mover database and to notify the mailer of changes. The downside is that it’s more expensive than NCOALink and involves more work for the mailer to apply the new information. But it’s still a valuable tool because it provides timely information and the matching can be less strict than NCOALink.
3. Reach out to data service providers. Companies like Acxiom, Experian, InfoUSA Catalog Vision or Harte-Hanks compile change of address information from such sources as utility companies, publishers, retailers, continuity clubs and financial institutions into third-party change of address databases. By using these databases after NCOA matching, mailers can find movers who either don’t file changes with the USPS, or get address changes that NCOA does not accept or match.