The Dollars and Sense Of DSF to Direct Mailers

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Delivery Sequence File is a U.S. Postal Service database of all delivery points in its system, 138 million locations throughout the United States and its territories. Mailers have their databases compared to this valuable USPS file through a network of nonexclusive licensees.


The comparison service provides mailers with a means to verify delivery accuracy of addresses in their databases and avoid the cost of mailing to nondeliverable locations.


Unfortunately, its value has not been fully appreciated by mailers, which, in general, fail to understand the merits of the service. To begin to illustrate the Delivery Sequence File's worth, one can compare DSF to the USPS' ZIP-plus-four file. This is analogous to comparing the power of a jet engine to a basic six-cylinder automobile engine. Both perform their missions admirably, but when placed side to side, one overwhelms the other. Specifically, DSF defines accuracy for each delivery point whereas the ZIP-plus-four engine provides accuracy only for address ranges.


Perhaps the reason for the nominal use of DSF by mailers is a lack of postage discount incentives such as the USPS provides First-Class mailers that regularly use its National Change of Address service. It's evident that greater initiatives are needed to show mailers the increased deliverability and return-on-investment potential that result from regular comparison of one's customer files to the 138 million-plus delivery locations in the USPS system.


The principal value DSF provides database owners is identification of nondeliverable addresses. Identifying scruffy addresses in one's file can be a strikingly important cost-saving procedure. Additional cost-saving benefits of DSF include:


o Identification of vacancies.


o Increase in ZIP-plus-four coded records attributed to the procedure's address standardization capabilities.


o Walk sequencing.


Envision for a moment the methods by which new customer information is captured and incorporated into a company's database:


o Customer submission (electronic or hard copy).


o Sales or customer service representative (electronic or hard copy).


o Telecommunications (internal or third party).


Regardless of capture method, every process is prone to error. Erroneous data- entry rates as high as 30 percent have been noted by sources within the telemarketing industry. Obviously, more stressful environments have greater incidence of error.


The DSF process brings greater benefit to dynamic files than those with minimal customer additions and changes. The chart at the bottom of the page applies percentage norms to a 1mm record file.


There is sound reason - bottom-line savings - for First-Class and Standard-A mailers to use DSF, as the examples illustrate. And users benefit well beyond this narrow ROI example. For instance, one can calculate additional response volumes and related sales with replacement of the 20,000 nondeliverable with deliverable customer or prospect selections. Also, DSF provides data enhancement elements that would add new dimension to response models.


Would postage discount incentives increase mailers' use of DSF? Would mailers' regular use of DSF result in sufficiently improved mail delivery efficiency to warrant continued postage discount offerings? This becomes a win-win proposition akin to NCOA if the answers are affirmative.


Regardless of DSF usage incentives, the example below identifies the ROI value of the service. Professional database and mail managers bear the ultimate responsibility for accuracy and deliverability of their files.


It's not a far-reaching analogy to compare these managers' responsibilities to those of mutual funds managers. Both are charged with researching resources that bring return on investment. DSF is a proven resource. Discover all the benefit potential DSF can bring to your organization.

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