Address Validation & Correction
Canada Post requires that a statement of address accuracy be supplied for all Addressed Admail and Publications Mail mailings of more than 5,000 pieces. This requires what is called Address Validation & Correction processing (frequently referred to as AVC) through Address Validation software that has been certified by Canada Post. We have invested in the purchase of this software and subscribe to the required monthly updates for it.
The AVC software not only produces the statement of address accuracy report. It can also fix up some postal codes and address information. However, it is not a panacea and cannot correct all addresses. This is particularly true of rural addresses. Canada Post does recognize some, but not all, emergency numbers that have been incorporated into civic addresses. And, in cases where there is too much variance in the spelling of street names, there is simply not enough dependable information to correct a given postal code.
Although AVC is mandatory for LCP mailing of more than 5,000 pieces, we can provide this service for smaller files as well.
In order to provide AVC services, the file must have the right data in the right fields. Key fields include civic address information (e.g. street etc.), city, province and postal code. We can restructure and realign data, should it be required.
For clean files, there is a modest fee of $.007 per records with a minimum charge of $35 for this service. Additional work to re-structure data is quoted on a case by case basis.
Other Postal Code Corrections
Sometimes, even after AVC processing, there may still be some missing and/or invalid postal codes that could not be corrected. In such cases, we can roll up our shirtsleeves and correct these manually. The price is $1.00 per record attempted and a listing of corrections is returned to the client.
NCOA stands for National Change of Address. When people or businesses move (see more on businesses below), they can complete a change of address form. Information on the change of address form is entered into the Canada Post NCOA database.
With NCOA processing, records are matched against the National Change of Address database that is maintained by Canada Post. This goes back 6 years. Therefore, if one of the clients on your current file moved two years ago and completed an NCOA form, NCOA processing would retrieve the updated address for that record.
NCOA processing is offered by Canada Post as well as other licensed agents and there is usually a job minimum. We can broker this service for you or your can obtain these services on your own, whichever you prefer.
There are a couple of caveats to be aware of when using NCOA.
First, if you are selling products to a predominately rural community (e.g. septic system products) it is often the address more than the resident that you are targeting. For example, if you have been selling septic products to a farm couple that subsequently retire and move to a city that has sewage treatment facilities, your septic products will be of little use to them. In this case, NCOA processing would actually do you more harm than good.
Also, although it might seem a little surprising, only about 6% of businesses ever complete a change of address file when they move. As a result, the correction rate on business files is usually very low,
Return to Sender Indicia
First, it is important to note that, unlike Lettermail that is returned if undeliverable, Personalized Mail is only returned if you request that it be returned.
An alternative to using NCOA processing is to use the Return to Sender indicia. This way you can find out which pieces do not get delivered.
Pricing for this service is $0.01 per peice being mailed.
Merging Multiple Files
Clients might send two or more files to be combined for a given mailing. Sometimes the file layouts will be the same and sometimes they are vastly different.
The key to merging files with different layouts is to ensure that all key data elements are preserved and that all intermediate steps are taken on the different files before combining them into a single mailing file.
Sometimes a single file might contain duplicate records or there may be duplicate records on files that are merged. Regardless, it is best to avoid mailing duplicate pieces to the same recipients.
The process of de-duping has never been an exact science. Often you can de-dupe records by using a combination of surname, postal code and a portion of the first name. However, this may not always work, especially where not all contact fields are populated, as is the case, for example, on some business lists.
Given an opportunity to examine the file structures and contents, we can suggest different alternatives that will remove most of the duplicates from one or more files.
Restructuring/ Realigning Data
(Right Data/Right Field)
Realigning and restructuring data are quite similar. It's all a matter of getting the right data in the right field.
Suppose that a file has company name information within an address field. In this case we might want to realign the fields by moving the company name information into a company name field, and that would be realigning the fields. We have written some software with some proprietary techniques that help us to make this fairly straightforward for most files.
In comparison, let's suppose that there is a single field containing the entire contact name. This could be expressed simply, as “Bill Jones” or in a more complex form as “Dr. Andrew Livingston, MD.” If we want to send out personalized letters and are faced with combined fields like this, then we would have to restructure the data. In the first instance we would want to capture “Bill” and drop it into a separate field so that we could use a greeting such “Dear Bill” as opposed to “Dear Bill Smith”. Of course, we would not want to see a greeting like “Dear Dr. Andrew Livingston, MD” and “Dear Dr. Livingston” would certainly be more appropriate. Again, there are some techniques that we can use to restructure data, putting the appropriate data into the appropriate fields.
Lastly, it is not that uncommon to see some fields of extraordinary length - perhaps of even 100 characters or more. In reality, these long fields often will not fit into the available address space and have to be split into two or more fields.
Case conversions are simply a matter of:
- taking something that is in upper case and converting it to mixed case (e.g. converting BILL MACDONALD to Bill MacDonald) or
- converting something that is any combination of cases entirely to upper case.
Most case conversions are to mixed case and there are two major reasons.
First, if we are using personalization, “Dear William” is far more appealing and personal than “Dear WILLIAM”.
Second, upper case just takes up a lot more room. Look at 40 l's and 40 L's below:
Sometimes, where space is tight for addressing, there is simply not enough room when working with upper case. This is particularly true when working with addresses for government or academic institutions.
Our proprietary case conversion software does a good job of the Mc's and Mac's and O'Briens etc. However, like most other case conversion software, some company names also undergo a similar transition, as in the case where XYZ CORPORATION would become Xyz Corporation.
Set Up Merge Fields for Personalization (Other than Name & Address Block)
When pieces attempt to use personalization, they should not become impersonal, as it simply defeats the purpose. For example, you would not want “Dear D” as a greeting.
We have had extensive experience setting up personalized mailers of all types, including the coordination of personalized pieces to be placed on top of the same advertisers' display ads inside magazines.
We are firm believers in the power of personalization and we have seen the extraordinary results that effective personalization can achieve, when done correctly.