Each year, approximately 40 million Americans change their place of residence and/or place of business. While most people file an address change with the United States Postal Service (USPS), it can take years for businesses to update their existing mailing lists. As a result, mailings continue to be sent to old, outdated addresses which means not only wasted money, but lost opportunities and sales. The USPS estimates that at least 8% of standard mail is undeliverable because of incorrect addresses.
What is NCOA?
NCOA is a national system of updated addresses as filed with the USPS. In 2008, the USPS Move Update Standard mandated that all Standard Mail (letters, flats, parcels and not flat machinables) as well as automation- and presort-rate First Class Mail be updated within 95 days of mailing to qualify for discounted postage rates.
How NCOA Works
Mailing lists are first processed through NCOA to standardized them to conform to USPS requirements, including Zip +4. Once the address is standardized, an attempt is made to match the address against the master NCOA file which contains approximately 115 million records or 48 months of permanent address changes. Old and outdated addresses are replaced with current information. Since 1986, NCOA and its predecessors have saved mailers millions of dollars that would have otherwise been wasted in postage and materials.
Mailing Service Companies and NCOA
Quality mailing service companies make NCOA a standard part of doing business. The costs are minimal and the benefits are many:
- Lower postage, printing and mail preparation costs
- Reduction in delayed and undeliverable mail
- Increased return on investment in mailings
- Addresses are updated in real-time via the Internet
- Meets USPS requirements
If all of these great reasons to do NCOA aren’t enough, it is important to know that penalties may be applied against companies who bypass NCOA standards. If your mailing house doesn’t talk to you about NCOA, you may want to ask them about it. If they are not adhering to the Move Update Standard, you are at risk of being penalized.