Once a mailing list is created, it would be nice if it stayed up-to-date all by itself. But people move. Street names, ZIP™ Code locations and phone numbers change. Business people change jobs or, with promotions, change titles. Such changes happen more often than most of us realize.
When it comes to direct mail, it’s important to keep abreast of such changes. It’s a matter of common sense that no matter how compelling your offers and creative work may be, they will perform at their best only when delivered into the right hands.
4 ways to keep your direct mail list clean
Here are some tips for keeping your mailing list at its peak performance level:
- NCOALINK. The U.S. Postal Service® is well equipped to help you maintain an accurate mailing list. That’s because while people who move may not tell merchants, they almost always tell the Postal Service.TM The Postal Service maintains that information in its National Change of Address (NCOA) file. For a nominal fee, you can match this file against your own mailing list. It’s one of the most efficient and painless ways to keep your mailing list up-to-date. If you prefer not to handle the update yourself, most mailing list brokers and lettershops will perform this service for you.
- Return Service Requested. Mail returned to you is an opportunity to update your records. By placing the magic words “Return Service Requested” on the address side of your direct mail, you are telling the U.S. Postal Service that you wish to have misaddressed mail returned to you so you’ll know who isn’t receiving your mail and can make changes to your list accordingly. This gives you the chance to cut waste and update customer information.
- Promptly remove names upon request. It’s rare, but on occasion someone may ask to be removed from your list. Don’t despair — this doesn’t necessarily mean this person no longer wants to do business with you. But either way, handling the request immediately is good customer relations, and helps preserve the positive reputation of advertising mail for all direct mail marketers.
- Invite customers to update their own information. Many direct mail professionals design reply cards and coupons so customers can update their own information. The following language can work well: “We apologize for any errors in your information. Please correct below.”
A customer who takes the trouble to correct information and send it back to you is showing an interest in receiving more mail from you, so it’s important to update the information immediately.Direct Marketing 101, Small Business