Who Really Gains From Move Update?

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Postal rate increases raise the collective blood pressure of the mailing industry whenever they occur. Adapting to new equipment and procedures raises another level of angst among mailers. But one topic is destined to stay in the face of the industry for the next two to three years: Move Update.


For the few who have been playing hermit, Move Update - which presently applies to First-Class mailers - is preparing to include Periodical and Standard mailers next year. As proposed, the regulation will require mailers to update both name and address components of mail lists every 90 days.


When U.S. Postal Service audits find mailers not in compliance - that is, insufficient work-share effort to earn front-ended postage discounts - the mailer is required to return the unearned discount. Presently, refunding unearned discounts may go back as far as one year.


Expansion of the regulation and the severity of the compliance factor are under discussion within the postal service and the industry's Mailers Technical Advisory Council. The subcommittee meeting on these issues has just submitted its findings and recommendations to postal management and the MTAC board.


Details on essential developments such as education and communication plans to properly inform the industry of the regulation and compliance issue and official postal documentation that holds list owners accountable for mandatory updates will be forthcoming as these efforts near fruition.


Meanwhile, it must be realized that Move Update is in effect, and compliance will begin to be enforced nationwide as early as March.


Let there be no misunderstanding, the mailer is the primary benefactor of the Move Update regulation. The mailer saves the most upfront and gets the greatest bang for his mailing buck through improved response by embracing Move Update as part of his mailing procedures best practices. Here are three present-day examples of these claims:


· "[National Change of Address] has been a key tool for us in maintaining a very clean database, something that is important to our business. When we first began using NCOA on hotline lists, we were skeptical that there would be any benefit because we believed hotline lists to be the most current and therefore correct addresses. However, we have seen a real improvement to delivery on hotline lists since implementing NCOA. NCOA also has been very helpful with the maintenance of our suppression files. The benefit has been twofold: We've had better results in our collection efforts and we've been able to successfully eliminate these undesirable accounts for acquisition mailings."Ursula Winchell, manager of marketing services production, BeMusic.


· "We recently purchased a list of notaries from our state agency. A test mailing of 10,000 records produced a surprising amount of returns. Our mail service provider recommended we use NCOA before going further. The results were shocking: Over 20 percent address changes, of which 90-plus percent came with corrected addresses. The NCOA process saved us thousands of dollars in postage and materials while improving our overall rate of delivery." Darren Vermost, vice president of operations, Vermost & Associates.


· "We create and produce fundraising appeals for over 30 different state political organizations nationwide. Keeping these donor files as current as possible in terms of addresses is critical to maximize our client expenditures, not to mention ensuring the highest response rate. By conducting NCOA updates on our client mailing information, we are able to significantly increase the delivery rate of our mail solicitations. We see an increase in response rates by deleting records that have undeliverable addresses, deleting records of individuals who have moved out of state, and updating those individuals who have moved within the state." Michael K. Milligan, vice president, Direct Mail Systems.


Move Update has been in place as a regulation for First-Class mailers for six years. Yet, awareness of two fundamental aspects - applying changes to lists and compliance requirements - remain unknown by many. With compliance becoming an active ingredient to the regulation in the immediate future, ignorance will be anything but bliss.


The irony is that every practitioner in our industry is trying to cut costs and improve mail response, yet embracing this regulation achieves this goal. We collectively need to clean up our (list) act.


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