Mr. Tooker, an expert in the Direct Mail Industry, gave some great advice in the May MAILCOM seminar entitled, Quit Throwing Your Money Away. I didn't have a chance to attend the seminar but, thankfully, MAIL Magazine did a write-up on it in their August/September 2007 issue. Here's an excerpt from the MAIL Magazine article with some great suggestions:
[Tooker] asked, Do you really want to mail to people who don't qualify for your offering? Do you want to mail to the wrong name at that address? How about dead people, prisoners, parolees on work release, people in nursing homes or people who "live" at Mail Boxes etc? Or to the wrong gender? You need to have advanced data hygiene processes."
Mr. Tooker suggested that you edit and standardize your data . Reformat all sources to standardize, assign gender codes, compare quantities against expected volumes, edit incoming records based on client-specific business rules, and document rejected records for possible later resolution. He added that Address Element Correction is key. It corrects or provides missing address elements (example: apartment numbers) that CASS-certification software cannot correct. It also makes problem/undeliverable addresses into deliverable ones that will take maximum advantage of USPS automation.
Mr. Tooker cited NCOA-link as a helpful tool. It is typically performed quarterly on client files and includes suppression files. It also includes USPS Locatable Address Conversion System (LACS) which can convert renumbering rural routes to conform to city-style addresses. Delivery Point Validation (DPV) confirms, corrects, appends, and standardizes address elements like ZIP and ZIP+4, carrier routes, and LOT codes. DPV also determines whether or not a secondary address element is missing or invalid, and flags Commercial Mail Receiving Agencies.
"So is all this worth the effort?" Mr. Tooker asked. "Using advanced data hygiene can typically reduce undeliverable mail by 3 to 5 percent. The impact can be significant to large mailers."