Use several strategies, including change of address programs, to cut back on costs

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Use the Summer Sale to reactivate customers
Use the Summer Sale to reactivate customers

Many mailers planned for a 2% to 3% increase in postage in 2010. The lack of a rate increase means many mailers can take advantage of the surplus budget to increase circulation, especially in acquisition and reactivation efforts. The key to doing this successfully is to "mail smarter."

One time-tested mailing practice that will help marketers do this is to run a national change of address programs as close to the mail date as possible to get more moves and to meet the USPS Move-Update requirements. This remains the single most effective tool mailers should use to improve response while reducing waste. They should also consider using proprietary change of address (COA) services, but be careful because these are not nearly as good as NCOA COAs. Direct marketers should also run address-level deduping on poor performing segments and use proprietary processes from service providers to ZIP+4 code additional records and to correct records with missing or invalid secondary numbers, reducing postage and waste.

Mailers should also not mail records with potential deliverability problems, such as those that are non ZIP+4 coded, those with a missing or invalid secondary number, especially on poor-performing segments.

They should also apply common suppressions such as do-not-mail, deceased, and prison, and for flats mailers, co-mail or use Add-a-Name to reduce postage. They should also consider leveraging analytical models to better target prospects and determine which customers to reactivate.

In addition, newer strategies include using the Intelligent Mail barcode to get postage discounts, and reactivating only those older customers where an external service provider has intelligence that the person is still at that address. This practice provides up to a 40% increase in response. Marketers can also apply linkage to identify individual duplicates across multiple addresses, consider suppressing mailings to minors and use undeliverable-as-addressed (UAA) suppression files that have recently become available. For flats, do not mail any records that fall into the three-digit qualification tier on poor performing segments. There is significant extra postage to mail these. Lastly, select a service provider to help clean up your customer database now.

This article originally ran as part of the January 4, 2010 Technique, "Make the most of stable postal rates." To read the entire feature, click here.

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