How often should you run NCOA Processing on your mailing list?

ncoaAbout 20% of the country moves every year and 80% of those movers fill out a change of address card with the post office. The post office requires NCOA every 90 day for postal discounts because they save money on processing incorrectly addressed mail but when is it worth it for you to run NCOA? The NCOA database is updated every week and updates can be run weekly if needed. Mailers can benefit from running NCOA more often than 90 days and others may need to run it less.

There are four factors to consider:

1. Mailing Schedule
2. Cost of the Mail Piece
3. Loss of Opportunity Cost of not Connecting with a Prospect or Customer
4. The Target Market

First, mailers that mail monthly will often NCOA their files monthly based on the mailing schedule. This saves money on printing and to makes sure they connect with the customer or prospect they are targeting.

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Secondly, another key factor is the cost of the printing and postage as the higher the cost of the mail piece the more investment that is lost by not updating the file. The typical cost to update a mailing list is about $45 and if the cost per piece is $1 then if there are 45 or more updates NCOA is worth the investment and should be run.

Third, if you typically get a 1% response rate and 20% of your list is at an old or incorrect address you can increase your sales by 0.2% just by making sure the mail gets to the correct addressee. This could be a huge opportunity cost depending on the selling price of the product and the customer’s lifetime value making that 0.2% add up to BIG dollars in the long run by a small investment in NCOA.


Lastly, the audience (target market) is also a key factor. For example, if you are targeting renters, recently divorced people, recent arrests or recent tickets these types of audience move a lot more or provide old addresses and NCOA is worth running even on fresh data. However if you have a mature donor file which is an audience that we have found does not move as often you may only be need to run prior to mailing or 90 days.

There are two types of NCOA licenses that the post office provides and one has the last 18 months (limited service provider) of moves and the other has the last 48 months (full services provider) of moves. You need to make sure that you select a service provider that has updates going back to the last time you ran NCOA. NCOALink processing is provided by a non-exclusive licensee of the United States Postal Service. If you have not run your file through NCOA in the last 48 months you should consider running it through a Proprietary Change of Address (PCOA) service which can go back up to 30 years and includes some moves from the 20% of movers that do not fill out a change of address card.

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