Data Enrichment & Validation

4 Challenges of Mail List Processing and How to Overcome Them

October 13, 2020
Author
Inkit Team

So you’ve collected a custom mailing address list, bought it, or got an address list database from anywhere else. Congratulations! You’re about to start an exciting direct mail journey and boost your marketing efforts with mail pieces.

Yet before you get down to launching mailing projects, make sure to implement mail list processing. Address list management services will help keep your address list database updated, increase the accuracy of mail campaigns, and reduce bounce rates. The use of list management services can benefit a mailer in many ways. Nevertheless, it also entails a lot of challenges.

That’s why today’s blog post focuses on the complications of address list database management and the ways to deal with them. Read on to find out:

  • What is mail list processing?
  • Four challenges of mail list processing and address list database management
  • Address entry validation, list cleaning, and other list management services to consider

What Is Mail List Processing?

Mail list processing uses modern mailing solutions to verify data entries in an address list database. Today, this process is almost entirely automated and can be performed either with specialized processing software or by a third-party list management company. The United States Post office also provides some basic tools that can help with mail list processing.

Mail list processing enables mailers to enhance the quality of their mailing campaigns through more accurate data. Thanks to regular checks, the number of invalid entries in the address list database is minimized, and the vast majority of recipients are guaranteed to receive their mail pieces. This improves the quality of customer service and makes direct mail more cost-effective. Companies can avoid squandering money on print communications that never reach the target.

online transaction

Four Challenges of Mail List Processing and Address List Database Management

Forewarned, forearmed. The more you know about the possible mail list processing road bumps, the less likely you are to suffer from them. After all, address list management services aren’t rocket science and are pretty easy to implement.

Mail list processing challenge #1. Missing or incomplete address data

People don’t always know what address details to provide. As a result, you may end up with an address list database full of records without ZIP codes, +4 codes, apartment numbers, company names, etc. Although you can use them to deliver mail, such communications may easily get lost on their way to recipients. If you ship products, the situation gets even worse. The undelivered mail will lead to increased bounce rates and undermine your budget.

Ready to captivate your customers?
Send personalized direct mail automatically based on customer actions.
Start for free

Mail list processing challenge #2. Incorrect address list database entries

Unfortunately, address data often include mistakes. To create an address list database, you will most probably collect information from multiple sources like your sales representatives, website forms, personal emails, print forms, etc. Some of the records may have a misspelled address, a wrong ZIP code, or another flaw that wouldn’t let you reach the necessary recipient. Similarly to incomplete addresses, such invalid data affects response rates and your direct mail marketing campaigns’ ROI.

Mail list processing challenge #3. Outdated address lists

If you don’t implement regular address list database checkups, your mail lists will soon be outdated. The thing is that not all people file an address update request when they move. ZIP codes and street addresses also change. Even though mail sent to outdated addresses usually reaches the destination, it takes additional time and thus may become irrelevant.

address list

Mail list processing challenge #4. Manual processing vs. automation

The choice between manual mail list processing and automation is another challenge you are going to face. Even though manual data processing may seem more straightforward since you don’t have to puzzle out automated mail processing software, it will harm your performance in the long run. The more address lists you will need to process manually, the more time you’ll waste. Besides, manual mail list processing is quite inaccurate, and the risk of human error is high.

Address Entry Validation, List Cleaning, and Other List Management Services to Consider

Now when you are aware of the possible troubles related to address list management services, it’s time to think about solutions. The most common approaches are entry validation, data enrichment, and list cleansing. Let’s talk about them.

  • Entry validation. The quality of data is immediately tested as a person provides information. If the entry has a wrong format, the system will show an error. The input validation approach is commonly used in web forms. For example, when a visitor registers on a website, they are asked to share contact information. When the input has a typo or wrong format, the website just won’t accept it until the mistake is fixed.

Such address list management services make address entries more reliable. They reduce the share of invalid and incomplete addresses and improve the overall accuracy of the address list database.

  • Data enrichment. List management services also help to deal with incomplete address data. Imagine you want to update a ZIP code database with 4-digit extensions to get the lowest postal rates. USPS and third-party address list management services can help you with that. Use extended ZIP code lookup supported by the United States Postal Service and complete the necessary ZIP codes manually or subscribe to Inkit for automated data enrichment.

Inkit has built-in data enrichment capabilities that automatically add the missing details to the address list database. It also supports variable data printing, fully automates mail fulfillment, and, most importantly, serves as an API integration platform. With its help, you can connect digital channels, direct mail, and CRMs. As a result, when a customer shares information through an online channel, it will be automatically recorded and enriched in the database. Later on, the same Inkit-based integration can use this address data for automated mail delivery.

  • List cleansing. Cleansing consumers’ mailing lists is a complex procedure consisting of postal address standardization, correction, and validation. It helps to finalize mail lists before using them in mailing campaigns. For list cleansing, you will again need to choose between USPS and third-party list management services. USPS offers Address Element Correction (AEC II®) for standardization, CASS for address matching, and NCOA Link for address changes. Inkit provides all the necessary cleansing list management services in a single toolkit. After a quick integration and configuration, you won’t need to rush between multiple mailing services manually running mail list processing.
clean address list

The combination of these mail list processing approaches should help you put the address list database in order. With proper data cleaning, enrichment, and validation, you will minimize the percentage of incorrect or outdated addresses. The only challenge left is the choice between manual processing software and automated solutions that usually require more investment. Thus, you will need to do some strategic planning and estimate your needs before selecting specific software. In case you don’t deal with consumers’ mailing lists often, USPS tools may do the trick. Yet if the scope of mail addresses is substantial or expected to grow soon, it’s better to implement automated list management services as soon as possible.

Want to test Inkit’s automatic list management services? Contact our sales team to get a demo.

Ready to captivate your customers?
Send personalized direct mail automatically based on customer actions.
Start for free