Posts Tagged Data

USPS | What’s the Difference Between CASS and NCOA?

CASS vs NCOA – What’s the Difference

NCOAHow can you increase the number of mailpieces successfully delivered and reduce the number of those pesky return pieces? Return mail, or Undeliverable as Addressed (UAA) is costly for you (think printing and postage) and costly for the USPS to handle as well.

So what can be done?

Always, always, always run your mail through CASS and NCOA processes prior to printing.

 

 

What is CASS and why do I need it?

CASS stands for Coding Accuracy Support System. The process standardizes address data and certifies that your mailing list meets automation rate specs and USPS presort discounts. Note that this is only improving your address by confirming the carrier route, five-digit zip code, zip +4 code, and delivery point barcode. Name-related fields are not taken into consideration during CASS processing.

What is corrected:

  • Misspellings in street and city names
  • Street suffixes such as Way, Court, Terrace
  • ZIP code and ZIP+4

We let our customers drive what happens if an address fails CASS certification. We receive a report back of any UAA addresses and can either suppress them from the mailing, mail to that address knowing that it will result in UAA mail (some clients must mail to address as given for legal reasons), or return these addresses to client for research/updating as necessary.

What is NCOA?

National Change of Address (NCOA) meets USPS mandated Move Update requirements by bouncing your mailing list against an updated USPS database. The USPS database contains any moves where a Change of Address has been submitted. In 48 months the USPS records more than 150 million permanent address changes filed by postal customers.

In NCOA processing, both the name and address are compared in the database. Strahm receives a report back when a record is identified as having a change of address. This allows our clients the opportunity to update their own database with the new address information. It also prevents mailing to an old address resulting in UAA mail returns.

Keep in mind that you will still receive some amount of UAA mail even after NCOA processing. Not all movers submit a Change of Address to the Postal Service. Sometimes the CoA submitted to the Postal Service is not an exact match to the name in your database (John A. Smith on the CoA, John Smith in your data, for example).

What you gain with NCOA:

  • Reduce printing/mailing costs by reducing the number of UAA pieces
  • Ability to update your mailing list for future mailings
  • Reduce internal processes for handling returned UAA mailpieces
  • Speed delivery to mailboxes since USPS won’t need to reroute from an old address to a new address

To recap, you should always use CASS certification part of a process to qualify for presort postage discounts. Use of NCOA will reduce printing/mailing/handling costs associated with mailing to address which would result in UAA mail.

While you will probably not ever eliminate all Undeliverable as Addressed mail, managing the amount will reap rewards!

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10 Tips | Email Marketing

10 Email Marketing Tipsemail-marketingTips

      1. Provide Multiple Channels of Communication

Make sure you are reaching your audience wherever they are. Place a sign up form or guest book at a convenient location within your business. Add a button to your website and Facebook page to join your mailing list.  You could even use a QR code which allows a customer to join a list by scanning the code – add this to a business card, flyer or point-of-sale sign. Your customers are connected through multiple social media channels, make it easy for them to connect with you.

      2. Take the Pressure Off

Don’t require customers to give you too much information. Especially if they are joining using a mobile device, ask them for only the information you truly need. If you need a geographic location, perhaps ask only for a zip code instead of a street address or phone number. While an email address is really all you need, additional information will aid you in more targeted marketing. Just don’t expect a consumer to give you their life story in data; be respectful of their time and effort in connecting with you.

      3. Subject Lines of Email Messages: Be Clear and to the Point

The very best subject lines-the ones that get opened the most every time-are the ones that tell exactly what’s in the email. A good subject line should be as brief as possible (maybe 50 characters, including spaces), accurately reflect what is inside and motivate the recipient to open the message. If this were in your email box, would you be likely to open it?

     4. Keep Your Writing Simple

While good writing does matter, email does allow you to speak in a more casual voice – just like any other social media. Your customers are people too, write like a human and drop all the sales jargon and techno babble. You can be funny and loose and still get your message across.

    5. Give a Clear Call-To-Action

The body of the email should include a clear call to action.  Make sure your message contains relevant content and has a compelling reason to act.  Include links and make sure they are tracked so that you can continue to market to people who have shown interest in the past.

    6. Be Mobile Aware

No that some of your customers will access your email via a mobile device. Make sure you know how your email is delivered and displayed on various different mobile devices. Targeting by location is a great tool for mobile marketing.

     7. Send the Right Message to the Right Person

Make sure your list is kept up to date and clean. It is irritating to receive a message with someone else’s name, location or buying history. Customers only interested in one product or part of your business may not be interested in hearing every message you send. Maintaining separate lists by customer interest or preference helps you tailor email messages and campaigns.

    8. Use Surveys to Gather Data Quickly

If you need more customer data to properly segment lists, use a survey as a quick way to get people’s opinions or interests. For customers, it’s visual, it’s interesting, and it takes just a second to answer. Once you’ve got a good pool of responses, you can create new lists based on your results.

    9. Test: Don’t Spray and Pray

Spray and pray emails will never perform as well as tailored emails to particular customer segments.” Segmentation allows you to create targeted email campaigns based on behavioral information or other contact data you know about each recipient. Surveys also help to determine the right tactic for each customer group. This can be done through A/B testing, which tracks the performance of two or more entirely different versions of an email message. Try a soft-sell message to your active subscribers and offer a significant discount to those that are less active or haven’t clicked lately.

   10. Enrich the Contact Data

As you gain more data – and more insight – about your customers, update to manage customer segmentation. Utilize purchase history, click through rates, and additional data gathered through previous marketing campaigns.  Test new messages, new formats and even new segmentations as you improve on your data list.

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USPS | Seeing An Increase In Return To Sender Mail?

Seeing An Increase In Return To Sender Mail?

officieel_Return_To_Sender_LogoA change to the Postal Service’s workforce is likely to mean an increase in mail that will be marked as Undeliverable as Addressed or Return to Sender.

Why is this you ask? A shift to using “transitional” carriers is changing the way your mail is cased and delivered. Long time carriers (or career carriers) have a deep knowledge of their routes, meaning they are often able to deliver despite poorly addressed pieces such as misspellings, missing apartment or suite numbers, etc. The USPS delivers approximately 2.2 billion pieces of mail annually that do not have complete, accurate address information. USPS claims that this special handling results in a cost to them of about $160 million each year.

USPS returned, forwarded or destroyed almost 7 billion UAA (Undeliverable as Addressed) mail at a cost of more than $1.2 billion.

What can you as a mailer do to help reduce the amount of UAA mail and make sure your mail reaches the recipient in the most expedient way? Make use of all the tools available for creating and maintaining a superior database.

As a pre-printing option, use a National Change of Address process. Your list is basically bounced against the USPS database and any addresses where a Change of Address was filed with USPS are updated. You can get a list of these addresses returned to you so you can update your database. Using NCOA as a pre-print process also saves you money on printing, envelopes and postage since you are mailing to better addresses.

Post production, consider enrolling in USPS Address Change Service. You will get a report with any updated addresses. Or try Move Comply usually available from your local mail service provider to update pieces with an improved address barcode.

Questions about creating and maintaining a clean database, or complying with USPS Move Update regulations? Call one of Strahm’s dedicated Customer Service Representatives. They will be glad to answer any questions.

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Data Tips | Don’t Let All The Talk of Big Data Scare You Off!

Don’t Let All The Talk of Big Data Scare You Off!

Here are a few tips to get you started.

  1. Decide on a strategy: How can you improve your current strategy with data? Think about what data you want to collect and how it will be used in future marketing efforts. How will this affect the marketing channels you choose – direct mail, email, social media?BigData
  2. What do your customers want?  Identifying what matters to your customers allows you to improve your communications with them. This also helps you craft and target personalized messages to customers through any of the marketing channels you may choose.
  3. Don’t ask for too much:  Give some thought to what data you really need right now. Do you need to improve your email address list? Find out what services/products are most important to customers? Determine how satisfied they are with your business? Keep it short and simple for them to respond. You can always dig deeper for more information down the road.
  4. Give multiple methods of responding:  If you are using direct mail to contact customers/prospects, include a website where they can submit information, take a survey, etc. Consider response cards, pURL’s and QR codes. Make sure all pieces are mobile compatible. Test, test, test to make sure all of your communication platforms work seamlessly.
  5. Don’t get overwhelmed or discouraged: Data is a big area and can be a lot to wrap your head around. Start small. And don’t expect overnight success. Build on what you have and tweak your communications as you add more data.

More questions about how data can help you grow your business and deepen relationships with customers? Call one of our qualified Customer Service Representatives today to discuss your needs. | (816) 756-2733

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How Secure Is Your Mail?

How Secure Is Your Mail?

securemailIn this day of heightened security awareness, how secure is your mail?

Not only the piece of paper in an envelope, but what about your data?

 

Let’s take it from the top:
Is your data transmitted to your printer in a secure transmission? Do you know that it was securely received and when? Do you know that what you transmitted is what was received?

What about the printed piece? Is the print facility secure? Is it video monitored? Is visitor access restricted? Are data servers and processing centers secured and with limited access?

Once printed, are steps taken to ensure that there is no “double feeding” of documents into a single envelope? Is there a process to track an individual mail piece from beginning to end? Is there record that all printed pieces are accounted for and inserted to an envelope?

What happens once this piece of paper is printed, folded, and inserted? Is your mail retrieved by the USPS? If so, is that USPS truck sealed – meaning only authorized USPS employees may remove that mail from the truck?

Just a few questions to ponder – and perhaps to ask of your print and/or mail provider before your next mailing.

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Tips to Manage Postage Rate Increase

Tips to Manage Postage Rate Increase

Now that the Postal Service has raised rates again (this is the largest rate hike in the past 11 years), it seems like a good time to review steps you can take to help manage your postage costs.

  1. Take advantage of a local mailhouse or presort vendor.  Presorting your mail lets you take advantage of reduced postage rates. There are many ways you can work with a vendor; they can manage your data, print your mailpiece and mail it for you or perhaps all you need is a daily pick up of your already prepared mail. Either way, savings are there for you. uspostagerateincrease
  2. Keep a clean, healthy database.  Make sure all of your addresses are complete, correct and updated.  When you receive Undeliverable As Addressed mail back from USPS make sure you update your data accordingly. No sense in mailing people who have moved or are deceased.
  3. Dedupe your data.  If your data includes multiple contacts with similar sounding titles within a company, can you mail to just one of those people? Are you seeing duplicates such as John Sample and John Q Sample at the same address? Check for duplicates both by name and address.
  4. Personalize and target your mailing.  Studies have shown that the more personalized and targeted your offer is, the greater response you will receive. Build and manage data such as last purchase, date of last service or purchase, geographic area or household income. The list of ways to segment and create relevant messages/offers is endless. 
  5. Use multichannel marketing.  Follow up your mailed promotion with email. Try to keep the same look and feel of your mailpiece. Include a link to your website, other marketing page or survey if appropriate. You can use a QR code or pURL on your mailpiece to drive recipients to your website.

Postage rate increases are uncomfortable for mailers. The USPS points out that the increases over the past few years have kept pace with inflation. The change is intended to generate $2 billion in annual revenue for the Postal Service.

As a reminder, below are the new full pay, retail rates.

  • 1 ounce First Class letter – $0.49
  • Each additional ounce $0.21
  • Postcards $0.34
  • 1 ounce letters to all International destinations $1.15

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How Data Drives Marketing

How Data Drives Marketing | Engaging with Digital Consumers

datapeopleInfosys recently released a study “Engaging with Digital Consumers” which offered valuable insight into what consumers want and how your data driven marketing plays a role.

  • 57% said they would be “more likely” to make a purchase from a retailer again if the retailer kept them updated on new offers and services through social media.
  • 78% of consumers said they would be “more likely” to purchase again if provided with offers targeted to their specific interests and needs.
  • 45% said they would be willing to trade “some privacy” for offers specific to their individual shopping needs.
  • 43% said they wouldn’t mind if retailers’ apps tracked their phone’s or tablet’s location if it meant they would receive ads or promotions targeted to their local area.

Data is so important to driving your marketing campaign. As marketing continues to move toward multi-channel applications, you have increased opportunity to gather data from digital marketing and apply it to printed pieces and vice versa.

Here are a few ways you can use digital and print both to build your marketing database.

Beef up your data and help make consumers “more likely” to buy from you and continue to buy from you in the future.

Have questions about data driven multi-channel marketing? Contact us at sales@strahm.com or (816) 756-2733 and one of our qualified Customer Service Representatives will be glad to help!

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Get More Out of Your Marketing Program with VDP

How To Get More Out of Your Marketing Program Using VDP

DirectMailvdpimageandtextVariable Data Printing (or VDP) has changed the way marketers plan their programs and design their mailpieces. No longer are they creating for a mass market, but instead using carefully mined data to make highly personalized messages.

Data can be gathered from customer calls, interviews, emails and phone calls to create targeted messages relevant to each customer/prospect. Data can be organic from your company or purchased from a 3rd party vendor. Put thought into what data you are gathering; while you don’t want to be intrusive you do want to get as deep as possible.

Pay particular attention to aligning the message of your mailpiece with the artwork. Tie the right art and copy to speak directly to the recipient.

A good example would be a program for a car dealership. Say Mr. Brown bought a mini van 5 years ago. You know (and have within your data) that Mr. Brown has 4 small children. You wouldn’t want to send him a message about buying a 2-seater sports car, would you?

Conversely, Mr. Jones bought a sporty little car from you a couple of years ago. Unless you know from your data that Mr. Jones’ situation has changed, does he have interest in a mini van?

Because this type of marketing is more relevant to the customer/prospect, you should expect to see a greater response rate from your mailing. Consider multi-channel marketing as well.  Send a postcard, followed up with an email.  Within the email, create a customized landing page with the same or similar message and artwork.

So get to work on that data and start building a truly great, targeted mailing!

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USPS | Difference Between CASS vs NCOA

CASS vs NCOA – What’s the Difference

NCOAHow can you increase the number of mailpieces successfully delivered and reduce the number of those pesky return pieces?  Return mail, or Undeliverable as Addressed (UAA) is costly for you (think printing and postage) and costly for the USPS to handle as well.

So what can be done?

Always, always, always run your mail through CASS and NCOA processes prior to printing.

 

What is CASS and why do I need it?

CASS stands for Coding Accuracy Support System. The process standardizes address data and certifies that your mailing list meets automation rate specs and USPS presort discounts. Note that this is only improving your address by confirming the carrier route, five-digit zip code, zip +4 code, and delivery point barcode. Name-related fields are not taken into consideration during CASS processing.

What is corrected:

  • Misspellings in street and city names
  • Street suffixes such as Way, Court, Terrace
  • ZIP code and ZIP+4

We let our customers drive what happens if an address fails CASS certification. We receive a report back of any UAA addresses and can either suppress them from the mailing, mail to that address knowing that it will result in UAA mail (some clients must mail to address as given for legal reasons), or return these addresses to client for research/updating as necessary.

What is NCOA?

National Change of Address (NCOA) meets USPS mandated Move Update requirements by bouncing your mailing list against an updated USPS database. The USPS database contains any moves where a Change of Address has been submitted. In 48 months the USPS records more than 150 million permanent address changes filed by postal customers.

In NCOA processing, both the name and address are compared in the database. Strahm receives a report back when a record is identified as having a change of address. This allows our clients the opportunity to update their own database with the new address information. It also prevents mailing to an old address resulting in UAA mail returns.

Keep in mind that you will still receive some amount of UAA mail even after NCOA processing. Not all movers submit a Change of Address to the Postal Service. Sometimes the CoA submitted to the Postal Service is not an exact match to the name in your database (John A. Smith on the CoA, John Smith in your data, for example).

What you gain with NCOA:

  • Reduce printing/mailing costs by reducing the number of UAA pieces
  • Ability to update your mailing list for future mailings
  • Reduce internal processes for handling returned UAA mailpieces
  • Speed delivery to mailboxes since USPS won’t need to reroute from an old address to a new address

To recap, you should always use CASS certification part of a process to qualify for presort postage discounts. Use of NCOA will reduce printing/mailing/handling costs associated with mailing to address which would result in UAA mail.

While you will probably not ever eliminate all Undeliverable as Addressed mail, managing the amount will reap rewards!

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Direct Mail In Your Marketing Strategy

What is your marketing strategy?

marketing-sign Are you using all the tools available to you?

In this day of increasing social media, email marketing and a strong online presence, have you pushed more traditional marketing – such as direct mail – to the wayside?

Perhaps you should reconsider.  Direct mail continues to be a bargain and should have a place in any small business marketing plan.

While email marketing is a great way to keep in touch with customers and prospects, there is a downside. According to the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), only about 19% of targeted customers open them and this includes opt-in house lists.

The CMO Council reports that 35% of marketers are using direct mail to encourage sales, while 29% use it to drive traffic online. 14% of marketers use direct mail to support offers or other content.

Here are some tips for creating a successful direct mail campaign:

  1. Segment lists and create targeted messages.  Try breaking down your list by current customers, inactive customers and prospects. Tailor a message specific to each group. You could also mail to vertical markets such as local businesses with over 250 employees, household demographics such as head of household over 35 years old.  The possibilities are endless.  Any reputable list vendor should be able to help you define and refine your lists.Mail_Box1
  2. Use direct mail strategically.  Focus on very specific messages to targeted markets or mailing lists and mail less often. Receiving a postcard or flyer from you once every three months may be more efficient than a flyer every week. After a period, the recipient may just toss it away if they see it too often.
  3. Use compelling content.  Your message should be succinct and have a clear call to action. Whenever possible, your message should be specific to that individual or target market.
  4. Consider giveaways. Pens, Post-It Notes, magnets, personalized note pads are just a few inexpensive items you could include. A three dimensional mailpiece sticks out and who doesn’t love a freebie?
  5. Use other forms of marketing along with direct mail. Don’t give up on email marketing, blogging, LinkedIn or Facebook. They are all great companions to direct mail, helping you to define your product or service and how it will be of benefit to your audience. They all should have a place in your marketing plan.
  6. Measure response rates. Keep track of what messages, lists, or methods generated the best responses for you. Refine future efforts based on past performance.

Response rates for direct mail have remained steady for the past four years. Especially for small businesses trying to connect with a local market, postcards, flyers and newsletters can be quite effective.

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