Since 19 percent of the American population moves every year, if you don’t run NCOALink (the latest iteration of the National Change of Address process) once a month, at least 1 percent of the people on your housefile will have moved without you knowing it, says Minnick.
He breaks down the math as follows: If you mail a customer’s old address, it will perform at about one half of average. The customer’s new address will perform at about twice the average, since your customers who are new movers traditionally respond better. By mailing the new address instead of the old one, you multiply the likely response rate by four.
“Additionally, NCOALink on a per-hit basis is inexpensive, and you get the windfall lift of that new-mover nature for several months. So there’s a longer-term [benefit] that comes into play,” says Minnick.
Available through data services providers, NCOALink also offers return codes for addresses that have changed, but for which new information isn’t available. “Using those return codes, you can identify another half a percent of your file that will not perform at the expected rate,” Minnick notes.
Proprietary Change of Address: While NCOALink will cover most of your customers’ moves, it won’t catch all of them. Minnick speculates 20 percent to 30 percent of new movers don’t alert the USPS when they move. To catch these movers, use a proprietary change of address (PCOA) service.
Because PCOA is rooted in a financial relationship with the customer (e.g., a magazine subscription, utility bill), it’s likely the customer’s information will be correct, says Minnick.
That said, PCOA can be more expensive than NCOALink. PCOA generally costs about 6 cents per identified hit, whereas NCOALink’s flat fee usually works out to 3 cents to 5 cents per hit.
Whether you have your service bureau run NCOALink, PCOA or both, Minnick suggests running both your housefile and rental lists against them. He notes that doing so significantly decreases your deduplication in the merge/purge.