Many may assume direct mail marketing entails only the design of the mail piece—whether that be a postcard, self-mailer, or letter package—and sending it through the U.S.Postal Service (USPS). However, there are additional aspects to consider when developing a campaign. One of the most important is database services. These can include security, programming, portal sorting, reporting, and hygiene.
The types of services offered vary by direct mail shop. Some provide the bare minimum of database programs to help keep your lists organized, while others offer premium options, such as variable data printing and custom programming, to elevate your campaigns.
Certain offerings are standard across the board. If the direct mail company you’re working with doesn’t provide these basic services, it’s time to find a new one. Any reputable direct mail service provider should offer the following base-level database services:
National Change of Address (NCOA)
The NCOA is a USPS database holding residential and business address changes reported within the previous 36 months. There are options available for 48 and 60 months. The USPS requires your file to be NCOA certified every 90 days. This ensures you’re up to date and delivering mail pieces to viable addresses, which improves your list quality and the likelihood of a response.
The NIXIE report derives its name from the word “nix,” which means “nothing.” It’s used to weed out the addresses that are undeliverable for reasons other than change of address.
The CASS certification system improves the accuracy of the mailing address including postal codes. Direct mailers are able to add the last four digits to a customer’s zip code, standardizing the address. The major benefit of CASS certification is that it helps avoid postal surcharges.
This service rids your list of duplicate contacts, saving you money and the potential embarrassment of a contact receiving multiples of the same mail piece.
A merge/purge service combines multiple mailing lists while simultaneously removing duplicates to ensure you don’t send one customer two of the same mail pieces.
Mailing List Segmentation
Your direct mail service provider should be able to organize and segment both your house and prospect lists based on your needs.
If you want to partner with an experienced direct mail provider, check that it provides advanced database offerings. These improve your campaign’s response rates, return on investment, and development turnaround time, while also saving time and money.
Advanced services can include:
Response Device Creation
A premier direct mailer can help your company increase response rates by creating customized response devices, such as phone numbers, URLs, PURLs, and coupon codes.
Variable Data Printing (VDP)
VDP can give the clients the opportunity to improve their response rates by more than 100 percent. This process enables creators to add three or more points of personalization—from images to copy—to a direct mail piece. An expert direct mailer can achieve this level of customization at scale, with quick turnaround.
Learn more about VDP by reading our blog “Variable Data Printing: Direct Mail Success With Personalized Campaigns.”
Certain companies can develop custom data processing solutions to assist your specific needs. This can range from reporting and segmentation, to trigger campaigns and VDP.
A trigger campaign is an automated process of sending mail pieces in succession after a specific action is taken. An expert direct mailer can execute trigger campaigns in a timely manner, so you won’t have to wait to accumulate contact names. The fresher the name, the better the chance of a positive response.
When a company handles your data, for any service, privacy and security should be of utmost concern. You must guarantee your data and information are being safely handled. There are multiple ways to ensure sensitive information is protected, including:
SOC 2, Type 2 Certification
This certification is managed by the nonprofit American Institute of CPAs. Holding a SOC 2, Type 2 certification means the company has complied with third-party criteria for data management and performance reports. It has also passed an examination by an independent certified public accountant.
Find out more about this certification in our blog “Why It’s Important Your Direct Mailer Is SOC 2, Type 2 Certified.”
If your company is sending healthcare information, it must follow HIPAA guidelines. A HIPAA compliant direct mailer can work with you to ensure each mail piece meets all the necessary criteria.
Read all about HIPAA compliance in our article “HIPAA Rules & Postal Mail.”
Health Information Trust (HITRUST) Mapping
HITRUST mapping ensures all protected health information is kept secure. All healthcare companies, from pharmaceuticals to hospitals, should employ a direct mailer with this capability.
Not only does Design Distributors provide the basic services every direct mailer should, we also offer advanced programs such as variable data printing, PURL creation, custom programming, and trigger campaign development. All of our data is securely stored and organized. We are a SOC 2, Type 2 certified with Hi-Trust mapping, HIPAA compliant certified facility. Contact us or request a free quote to partner with a direct mailer with more than 50 years of experience.