Wednesday, October 7, 2015

With Bad Data Costing Average Direct Mailers So Much, Going Beyond the Average Solutions Pays Off

The average U.S. company wastes $180,000 a year on direct mail that does not reach intended recipients because of inaccurate data, per a handy report on the impact of bad data. That's not so surprising when a recent Experian survey shows marketers rate a third of their databases as inaccurate, particularly when it comes to addressing. The annual cost of wasted mail is also no surprise if you consider the cost per thousand (CPM) by mail type in the Direct Marketing Association's 2015 "Response Rate Report" survey: CPMs range from about $585/M for postcard and letter packages to $1,000/M for oversized envelopes and $1,200 for dimensional mail. A company mailing out oversized pieces to 100,000 a month with 15% bad addresses/undeliverables will end up with over $180,000 in yearly waste in no time! The biggest source of undeliverable mail (76%) per the U.S. Postal Service is consumer and business change of address from the 17% of Americans who move/change addresses each year. Too many mailers assume that when they qualify for First Class and Standard mail commercial pricing by matching against the Postal Services' National Change of Address (NCOA) database, they've cleaned up the problem. Unfortunately, the NCOA database itself has issues because of lags in recording, look-back time limits (18 months and 48 months), and, most important, the up to 40% of consumer and business movers who do not report their change of address. So in addition to NCOA, mailers should match their data against the several additional Proprietary Change of Address (PCOA) databases that draw on private sources, such as magazine subscribers and financial information, to catch the big chunk of address changes and "dead/undeliverable" addresses that fall through the cracks. The savings is easy to calculate: Using several private data sources to find undeliverable and move data not recorded in the standard NCOA database costs between 15 cents and 25 cents per corrected record. These records will otherwise waste anywhere from 60 cents to $1.20 each in direct mail costs. There's also the lost response from prospects/customers who will not receive the intended mail piece, or any other offers. Even at 25 cents per fix, the savings is huge with mail rates as high as they are. Plus, the improved address correction allows for more effective merge-purge deduping and more savings. For a broader calculation of bad data's business impact, see the Lemonly infographic:

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