Last summer, my wife and I bought our first house here in Wichita. We bought it from a sweet, old lady named Karen. We love it and have done so much already to improve it and shape it into our home. However, fast forward about eight months to now, and we are still receiving mail in our mailbox with Karen’s name. Why the heck are we still receiving her mail?!
That is where our little friend called National Change of Address or more commonly known as, NCOA, comes into play. Let's unpack exactly what is NCOA, and why it is important.
What Is NCOA?
It would probably be best to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth:
“Every year, approximately forty million Americans move their place of residence and/or business, but their old addresses often remain in mailer's databases. As a result, mailings continue to go to old addresses and not the new ones.”
The National Change of Address is a secure database containing approximately 160 million permanent change-of-address records. This is maintained by the United States Postal Service who track the records of names and addresses of individuals, families and businesses who have filed a change-of-address with the USPS.
How Does It Work?
With every job, our data processing department performs a series of steps to prepare and clean up your list. Obviously, one of these steps is submitting your list to the NCOA database. Using our exclusive mailing software, we submit all of the records in your list including these fields for each record: “Name,” “Company,” “Address,” and “Zip code” (+ 4 digits if possible). Then the NCOA data base compares and contrasts these records against what it has on file, and makes the necessary changes and returns the list to us with the updated records.
As well as updating the address, it also makes any corrections or address resolutions needed. Depending on the state of the list being submitted, there could be anywhere from 4-5 records changed to 1,000 records changed if it’s in poor shape.
Here is an example of the results of a list after being run through NCOA.
Why Is It Important?
Let's look at the importance of running your lists through NCOA with a few simple math problems. “Rob” owns an auto shop, and is mailing a newsletter to his customer list of 3,500. Well, Rob doesn’t NCOA his list and there are 42 undeliverable addresses, 78 people who have moved to a different address in town, and 24 that have moved out of state. So there are now 144 newsletters that he will be paying for, that will not be delivered to the intended recipients. First, from a financial standpoint, he is spending .84 cents per piece, which comes out to a total of $120.96 that he is pretty much throwing in the trash. Secondly, from a marketing standpoint, that is 144 people who aren’t receiving the offer he has in his newsletter. With each potential conversion netting him $45, that’s a lot of revenue he’s missing out on.
As you can see, it is extremely important to have the most current addresses for each and every record. Besides saving you money, the USPS actually requires your list to be NCOA certified if you’re going to be mailing at a discounted rate, i.e. Presort Standard, First Class Presort, etc...
So flashing back to my story about Karen, there could be two causes for why we’re still receiving her mail.
- She hasn’t submitted her new address to the USPS database.
- These various mailing companies, have not run their lists through NCOA.
If you’ve moved recently and realize that you haven’t submitted your new address to the USPS, here is the link for you to do it.
Just remember, you don’t want to become a Karen for the person who moves into your old house!
If you're still scratching your head with the question, "what is NCOA?", please reach out to us and we would love to teach you more about it.