Resolve Your Direct Mail Deliverability Issues

By Aug 01, 2010

If approved, the latest proposed postal rate increase will likely take effect in early 2011. With that on the horizon, now is a good time for mailers to update their contact/mailing strategy for the 2010 holiday season. Here are some tips and metrics to consider when doing acquisition and/or reactivation mailings.

  • Back-tests and in-the-mail tests. A back-test — performed after a mailing is sent out — looks at responses to see how different segments performed. In an in-the-mail test — made before a mailing goes out — a mailer keys certain segments to monitor how they perform during a mailing.

    Such tests can help mailers pinpoint how many records have potential deliverability issues. A number of those can still be mailed because enough will be delivered to justify the effort.

  • Consider the following possible deliverability issues when determining which records to mail:

    • Non ZIP+4 coded: 50% to 70% reduction in response.
    • Missing apartment number: 40% to 50% reduction in response.
    • Invalid apartment number: 15% to 25% reduction in response.
    • Mailing to an old address: 70% to 80% reduction in response.
    • Vacant address: 40% to 60% reduction in response.

    Apply change-of-address (COA) as part of campaign processing in addition to the normal schedule of updating customer files/databases with COA. The payback on this is significant, since mailing a piece to a person’s old address normally reduces response by at least 75%.

  • For reactivation mailings, don’t mail records with deliverability problems. Since reactivation mailings typically perform close to break-even, the reduced performance of records with deliverability problems normally makes these not worth mailing.

  • For acquisition mailings, marketers can be somewhat more aggressive. They can mail some of the records with deliverability issues, as someone at the address has normally responded in the last few months. Whenever possible, don’t mail to prospects with a potential old address. Mailing acquisition records with invalid apartment numbers during the holiday season can yield results that are above break-even.

  • Consider a reduction in mailing 3-digit ZIP Code-qualified pieces. Some of these can cost more than 15 cents per piece in additional postage over a carrier-route qualified piece when mailing flats — and the extra postage brings reactivation and/or acquisition mailings below break-even. (If used in conjunction with add-an-address/add-a-name, the postage savings in a campaign can be up to $10,000 and sometimes even more.)

Got a direct mail tip to share? Contact Larry Riggs at larry.riggs@penton.com