Maintaining your Mailing List
Mailing lists are like plants, they need weeding and attention or they grow old and die. Keeping your mailing list up to date means that you will avoid the senseless waste of sending to the wrong people or addresses. Occasional database checks and cleanup are vital for maintaining an effective mailing list.
Begin by eliminating duplicate addresses. If you spend $7.50 in development, material, printing, labor, and mailing for a standard piece of direct mail, you are going to benefit from getting rid of 50 duplicate addresses. But that is only the beginning.
After eliminating duplicates, use the USPS national database of known addresses to make sure that the names and addresses you have are current. 40 million Americans move annually, so even if the address was correct in a previous mailing, it may now be outdated. 35% of direct mail ends up being discarded by the USPS because it is undeliverable as addressed. So take the time and effort to match up your list to updated databases like the NCOA (National Change of Address).
An additional step to maintaining your mailing list is using zip+4 codes and standardized address formats. Abbreviations, spelling, and format should all be regularly examined for accuracy or the USPS may have to throw out your mailers (35% of mail gets tossed before ever reaching consumers!). CASS Certified software can standardize all your addresses for you, going through it with a fine-toothed comb for errors.
Finally, consider using Presort Accuracy Verification and Evaluation (PAVE). Certified postal presorts can put your list together in an order that meets the USPS requirements, helping your business comply with bulk mailing regulations and lowering your postage rates. The bottom line is that mailing lists are only as good as their maintenance, so check them often and check them right!