According to the United States Postal Service, more than 40 million Americans move every year.
So it makes sense that when you mail to a list multiple times — as you should be doing — you will likely start getting returns marked “Undeliverable as Addressed” or “Forwarding Order Expired.”
Every time you mail to someone who can’t be found for whatever reason, you’ve just paid for that postage with no possibility of getting a response.
So what do you do? There’s a solution…
Sometimes, you may get as high as a 10% undeliverable rate, meaning the percentage of cards you send that can’t be delivered. This percentage may be higher on older lists that you’ve been using for a while, but the average is closer to 5% undeliverable, so let’s use that number as an example.
Say you mail 10,000 pieces, and 5% come back.
10,000 x .05 = 500 pieces
At 34 cents per postcard, that’s:
500 x $0.34 = $170
$170 in wasted postage!
Assuming you’re NOT OKAY with wasting money, you have two options:
- You can spend hours going through your list of names and delete the returns (and deliver your message to as many as 500 fewer recipients), or
- Get your list checked against the National Change of Address (NCOA) System and get back in touch with those prospects!
Here’s what it boils down to:
A limited number of companies are licensed to access the NCOA database. These companies can check your mailing list against the USPS system and give you a cleaned and updated copy of your list, along with a report that tells you if anyone on that list has moved or gone out of business.
Having your mailing list checked is very affordable (PostcardMania charges $50 for up to 10,000 addresses).
Given the choice of spending $50 (and having more pieces of mail delivered) or wasting $170 on undelivered mail, I know what I’d do!
There will be some records that can’t be found through NCOA — those you should delete. (Or have whoever maintains your list delete them.)
There’s another way to make sure you have a super effective mailing list…
Create your own!
A newsletter (either print or email) is a great way to build a list. It takes a while, but the sooner you start building it, the better.
Before you know it, you’ll have a nice, healthy list of prospects and clients who VOLUNTEERED to hear more about your product or service!
We currently have more than 160,000 subscribers to our weekly newsletter. I was inspired by a friend who had 100,000 subscribers to his newsletter when I started collecting email addresses, and I thought it would take FOREVER to get a decent list.
But it didn’t:
Before I knew it, I had 11,000 records!
Today it’s SO MUCH EASIER. People find your site, discover your newsletter and type in their email address.
Then you start sending them your newsletter, which is full of information, special offers and interesting tidbits about your industry and it’s a win for both of you. (Here are some useful tips on how to create an effective email newsletter.)
The reason email newsletters are great follow-up marketing tools is simple:
They get useful info they can read or ignore, and you get another opportunity to offer your product or service.
Here’s how you do it:
- Create space on your website where people can sign up. Ask for ONLY their email address, promise that you won’t sell it and tell them they can unsubscribe at any time.
- For the first few months, send the newsletter with NO promotion at all.
- Ask for feedback about your newsletter and make changes as appropriate.
- Once you’re getting lots of good responses, you can start sending them promotions and special offers!
From these emails, direct your prospects to a landing page that asks for the rest of their contact information in return for something valuable (for FREE — samples, a quote, a report, etc.).
Now you’ve turned that anonymous email address into a LEAD — an actual person you can call and mail to! How cool is that?
That tells you those people trust you enough to give you their address and phone number — they’re the BEST people to market to!
If you have questions about creating your own mailing list — or anything about mailing lists! — call one of my marketing consultants at 800-628-1804. It’s FREE!
*This article was adapted from my book, Postcard Marketing in an Online World. Click here to read it.