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Mailing List Accuracy Becomes More Stringent

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Mailers face additional penalties in not meeting new Post Service regulations requiring valid, deliverable addresses


The newest wrinkle from the U.S. Postal Service impacts businesses with substantial mass mailing efforts. New Mail Update regulations are intended to limit an unacceptable percentage of wrong addresses, which are costly for everyone concerned.

The key word here is "unacceptable."

Be warned: The threshold at which the Postal Service measures adequate mailing-list accuracy and the way it does it are changing dramatically.

Bad addresses already are costing businesses millions. When a letter or bill, package or flat, gets bounced as undelivered as addressed (UAA), the business and its mail house are on the hook not only for penalties, but also for poor customer communications and marketing effectiveness, lagging account receivables, fewer sales, and more unhappy customers.

As for the Postal Service, it doesn't want to eat the cost of hauling the bad stuff back to the mail facility, sorting it again, mailing it back to the mailer, and so on. It's no wonder the Postal Service has been levying compensatory costs on mailers with bad databases.

Now, as of March 1, 2018, that cost promises to become increasingly onerous--or shall we say increasingly motivating.

The old rules mandated that addresses be screened via a machine with the ungainly name of Mail Evaluation Readability Lookup Instrument. It's acronym, MERLIN, implies a certain magical ability to detect bad addresses, but in reality all these machines have been doing was randomly checking a portion of a submitted mailing list. If a generous 30 percent or more of that sample was faulty, the mailer was hit with a fee of 7 cents per piece for the percent of bad addresses above that threshold.


Now, the Postal Service will be leveraging its Intelligent Mail barcode (IMb) technology to check every single address a mailer submits in bulk for accuracy, not just a random sample.

Further, the allowable threshold of 30 percent of bad addresses is history. Now, if only 0.5 percent of addresses are faulty, failing to mirror Postal Services change of address (COA) records beyond a certain cutoff point, the mailer is hit with an 8 cent fee on each bad address beyond this vastly more stringent threshold.

The potential for thousands of dollars in penalties due to out-of-date mailing lists is now very real.


What are direct mailers to do to achieve 99.5 percent address list accuracy?

First, they should get current with all change-of-address requests ... if they can. Each year some 40 million Americans move, and only a portion bother to submit COAs, and those that are filed only gradually find their way into the Postal Service's system.

Further, mailers should assure that all addresses match official Postal Service formats of street address, apartment number, accurate city name, and the like. It's amazing how often an addressee himself doesn't know what town he lives in ("Is it Hollywood or Los Angeles?"), and these sorts of things can easily gum up a mailing list.

Yes, there are some Postal Service aids, but they're not particularly user friendly. One service allows mailers to electronically receive change-of-address information after a mailing--a little late to avoid penalties, wouldn't you say?--while another provides a database of 160 million "permanent" change-of-address records.

A "permanent" database? I saw you smile!

Fortunately there are easier, more accurate, and less bothersome solutions. 


·         Melissa's SmartMover cloud service provides fast, easy change-of-address processing for U.S. and international addresses that are accurate in real time. With SmartMover, direct mailers can be assured of staying on the right side of the Postal Service's new Move Update and COA regulations, while increasing customer lifetime value and mailing ROI.

·         Melissa's Address Verification Service verifies addresses in the U.S. and worldwide, also in real-time. We're talking complete, standardized, and accurate USPS addresses while correcting errors and adding in missing components like postal codes.

·        And Melissa's Personator cleans, verifies, standardizes, and completes names and addresses (as well as phone numbers and emails if you need those), matching names to addresses to authenticate the identity of a customer.


Staying on the right side of the U.S. Postal Service's new Move Update regulations is good business for direct mailers and mail houses. It avoids costly penalties while assuring optimal mailing accuracy and customer satisfaction.


And you'll want to do it with a partner who's the leader in data accuracy: Melissa.


How to Minimize the Effects of Postal Rate Increases

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It is that time of year again, the annual postal rate increase. There will be a rate increase averaging 1.9% for Mailing Services products and an average increase of 3.9% for most Shipping Services products (3.9% for Priority Mail and an average of 0.8% for Priority Mail Retail) starting Sunday, January 21.


The Mailing Services price changes include:




Letters (1 oz.)   

49 cents

50 cents

Letters additional ounces    

21 cents

21 cents

Letters (metered)

46 cents

47 cents

Outbound International Letters (1 oz.) 



Domestic Postcards   

34 cents

35 cents


The domestic Priority Mail Flat Rate Retail price changes include:




Small Flat Rate Box



Medium Flat Rate Box



Large Flat Rate Box



APO/FPO Large Flat Rate Box



Regular Flat Rate Envelope



Legal Flat Rate Envelope



Padded Flat Rate Envelope




Although $0.01 may not seem like much of a price spike, the money adds up! Now, companies mailing to 20,000 individuals will incur an additional postage charge of $200 per mailing. Organizations that mail conservatively (let's four times a year) will have to budget for an extra $800 in postage, per year, for that same mailing.



So how can you minimize the hit? Here are a few quick-fixes to help you save money:

1.      Clean your data - eliminate unnecessary waste from duplicate mailings or UAA mail

2.      Suppress your list(s) - remove individuals that match to one or all of these suppression files: Do Not Mail, Deceased or Inmate

3.      Presort your mailing lists - get the best postage rate when you mail more efficiently

With the deadline fast approaching, now is the time to figure out how you will be prepared for these changes.  Fortunately, we've got the perfect tools to help you prep and presort your mail effortlessly. Whether you are looking to clean your data, suppress your list or presort your mail, we've got you covered.


Here's how each of our solutions can assist you with incorporating the new postal rate changes into your business' mailing process:  


MAILERS+4 - CASS™, PAVE™ and SERP Certified™ Postal Automation Software will:

  • Reduce UAA mail by CASS and NCOALink® processing your mailing lists, updating outdated addresses, and verifying addresses are valid and complete
  • Add missing data like ZIP codes, carrier routes, delivery points, and suite and apt. numbers to ensure accurate and speedy deliveries
  • Eliminate duplicates to save on costs associated with waste
  • Presort your mailing lists to mail more efficiently and less expensively


MAILERS Online - The Cloud-based PAVE certified Postal Software alternative will:

  • ·         Standardize, correct, and verify address data to ensure deliverability & qualify for letter and flat-sized presort and automation rates
  • ·         Presort your mailing lists to mail more efficiently and less expensively
  • ·         Eliminate duplicate records in single mailing list to save on costs
  • ·         National Change-of-Address process your mailing list to eliminate mailing to the wrong address
  • ·         Add intelligent Mail barcodes for additional tracking


Presort Object - Our on-premise API solution that supports high-volume mailings will:

  • USPS PAVE Gold Certified for First Class, Marketing Mail (Standard Mail), nonprofit letters, cards, flats; automation, non-automation, non-machinable; Standard Carrier Route; and destination discounts for SCF, NDC and DDU
  • Provide palletization option for First Class and Marketing Mail for essential efficient processing of high volume mailings
  • Full Service Intelligent Mail® compliant and Mail.dat - generates iMB barcodes and all reports and e-documents necessary
  • Include a free Mail.dat License Code

5 Ecommerce Issues You Forgot--And How to Fix Them

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Want to increase conversions, provide customers with a better shopping experience, and cut down on cart abandonment? Check out these five ecommerce issues you probably forgot and how to fix them to solve these problems and more.

1. The Fat Finger Syndrome

Customers are terrible at typing--especially when it comes to filling out incredibly small contact forms on their smartphones. The fat finger syndrome accounts for many name misspellings, incorrect addresses, email bouncebacks, and invalid order submissions. To take the burden off the customer, try implementing a real-time autocomplete solution. By automatically showing verified addresses and emails as the customer types, you'll help alleviate fat finger syndrome and cut down on form abandonment.


2. International Postal Standards Vary

Did you know that in Japan, the last name goes first on shipping labels? And in Canada, the postal codes consist of letters and numbers arranged in a specific way? Those are just two examples of how address standardization can differ from country to country. So, if you're planning to go international, be mindful of varying postal requirements and make sure you have an address verification solution that can verify, standardize, format and transliterate. Solutions like Melissa's Global Address Verification do all of this and more--like adding precise lat/long coordinates to addresses for 40+ countries.


3. Upfront Shipping Matters

Amazon has shown the way towards better conversions, more sales, and cost-effective shipping with upfront shipping costs and delivery dates shown at every step of the order process. Now, you can, too! With Decimal, a comprehensive shipping rates manager and delivery dates predictor, you can provide your customers with calculations for shipping while they shop, without interrupting their purchase. That means more customers hitting Submit Order without delay.


4. Clean Data Affects Everything

Are you sure you're only storing accurate customer data? The data you collect directly on your site, via call-in orders, through internal systems, and mobile all need to match to show accurate customer records in order to better know your customers, increase upsell opportunities, and provide good customer service. By cleaning data before it enters your database and maintaining it after, you can ensure that every customer's name, address, phone, and email are accurate and verified.


5. Fraud Costs More than Lost Sales

Let's look at some stats--every year, businesses lose $3.5 trillion in revenue to financial crimes, and 15.4 million consumers were victims of identity theft in 2016 alone. Don't let fraud and chargeback costs steal your bottom line. Instead, use an ID verification solution like Personator®, which combs through 2.1 billion records to match name-to-address and verify that every customer is exactly who they say they are.


MAILERS Online: On Demand & In the Cloud Presorting

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Say hello to a no-contract, end-to-end mailing solution that's in the cloud and easy to use. MAILERS Online is a one-stop-shop for all your mailing and presort needs, where you can upload your text or Excel® files to our server and let Melissa take it from there. We'll presort your list, based on your selected parameters, to get you the lowest postage rates! MAILERS Online is a flexible, on-demand, software as a service (SaaS).


There is nothing to install and MAILERS Online never requires disks or updates. Use on a list-by-list basis--with no contract or subscription, you're never locked in. Use NCOA to locate customers who've moved; clean and verify address data to reduce undeliverable-as-addressed mail; and append missing data like ZIP® Codes, carrier routes, and suite numbers for stronger targeting and more efficient processing and delivery.


Find out what can MAILERS Online do for you today:

To Our Very Own

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congrats copy.png

Melissa Data would like to recognize the hard work and determination of three employees: Jesus Rojas, Paul Nelson, and Peter Handfield for their recent accomplishments.

Jesus Rojas, Tech Support Specialist, has earned the Certification of Completion for Mail Professional Fundamentals, Certification of Completion for Mail Professional Advanced, a Certificate of Expertise for the level of Mail Professional, and a Certificate of Expertise for Mail Professionals Advanced.

Paul Nelson, Tech Support Supervisor, has earned the Certification of Completion for Mail Professional Fundamentals, Mail Professional Advanced, a Certificate of Expertise for the level of Mail Professional, and a Certificate of Expertise for Mail Professional Advanced.

Peter Handfield, Quality Assurance Team Leader, has earned the Certification of Completion for Mail Professional Advanced as well as a Certificate of Expertise for Mail Professional Advanced.


Jesus: I was referred to Melissa Data by my cousins Carlos and Michael Nuñez. I have been with the company for almost 3 years. With the years included at Melissa Data I have over 10 years of customer service experience under my belt. I like working with people and assisting them with their data quality needs.  

Paul: I was hired as a tech support rep back in March of 2000 with a referral from a friend. Coming up on 17 years with MD. I have over 27 years of customer service experience and enjoy the challenges that come with managing technical support services with the numerous products we develop.

Peter: I began my career at Melissa Data in April 2004 in the Tech Support department. After one year, I was promoted to Tech Support Supervisor. I transferred to QA in 2016 and became the Team Leader of the software division specializing in presort. I'm also the product manager of Presort Object, Mailers+4, and Listware Online. Altogether I've been with Melissa Data for more than ten years.

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Your Basket of Unsortables

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When you're looking to reduce business costs, look to your marketing mailings. Many things can go wrong with an address to make it unsortable--or even undeliverable. Unfortunately, unsorted mail does not qualify for the important postal discounts which you're entitled too. Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater, your direct mail campaigns are salvageable with a little help from Melissa Data.

First, here are some common address errors:

  • Addressee's Street Address Errors
  • Missing address line or street name
  • Missing or incorrect P.O. Box™
  • Incorrect or missing ZIP Code™
  • Change of address on file 
  • No such or incorrect apartment, suite, etc.
  • Missing or incorrect street directional or suffix
  • No such rural route number/rural route box
  • Rural route address change to city-type address
  • Incorrect or missing city and/or state 

What this means is that an address doesn't have enough information to presort, and as mentioned, only presorted mail qualifies for those important discounts. So then, how to update your data and attain presort status?

  1. First-Class Mail® requires a mandatory quantity of 500 pieces or more 
  2. Standard Mail® requires a mandatory quantity of 200+ pieces or 50lbs in a mailing 
  3. Every business needs access to PAVE™ certification

Learn about PAVE from the USPS:

The PAVE (Presort Accuracy, Validation, and Evaluation) program is a process designed in cooperation with the mailing industry to evaluate presort software and determine its accuracy in sorting address files according to Domestic Mail Manual (DMM) standards.  More >

Luckily, there's an easy way to achieve perfect presort status. Melissa Data provides you the key to automate your mail room:

·      MAILERS+4 is an affordable, easy-to-use postal automation and bulk mail software program that includes real-time USPS® NCOALink® and Canada Post NCOA® Move-Update processing. When you have problems like the ones listed above, MAILERS+4 will verify and standardize your addresses, dedupe lists, and presort all of your mailings to gain the discounts you deserve.

·      Presort Object is a custom presort program to complement your current mail processing system. When you need to maximize your postal processing speed and your productivity choose the software that qualifies your mailings for lowest automation and non-automation presort rates. 

Both MAILERS+4 and Presort Object are PAVE Gold Certified. Learn more about mail deliverability or visit our website to see what Melissa Data can do for you. 


Once upon a time there was a shopping cart named Carter. Carter loved shopping. He loved meeting new people and being a part of learning all about their lives and what they liked to buy. He loved helping them peruse everything from run-of-the-mill groceries and toiletries to the exciting new smart TVs and holiday decorations. But there was one part of shopping that always left Carter feeling strange... Sometimes, after shopping for hours, and being filled up to the brim, his friends would just vanish. They never came back. He was alone; holding their dreams and necessities.

Every business has its own set of complexities, but the digital age seems to have made browsing for merchandise a never-ending perusal rather than a cut and dried sale. Cart abandonment is high for everyone, nearing 70%. There are many different causes but one major problem is lack of transparency in shipping.

Let's say a mother sits down to order formula and diapers. She puts them into her cart, she goes through the entire checkout only to find out at the last minute that shipping is going to be nearly equivalent to the purchase price. Ordering online, which was supposed to be convenient, is now annoying and she closes her browser.

56% of people abandon their shopping carts when presented with unexpected costs during the checkout process. However, if people are given a proper heads up about how much the product or shipping costs, they're more likely to buy it-- even if it's more expensive. (35 Actionable Tips To Reduce Shopping Cart Abandonment Rate Ultimate List from Styla.)

Melissa Data is here to help you solve this ever present problem with vital solutions formulated for your industry. Enter Predictive Shipping. Manage shipping your way with the Melissa Data Decimal shipping calculator and boost sales by predicting delivery dates and shipping options on your products page where people see it right away and it's no longer a surprise. Keep customers informed to build trust and dependability. For many more solutions to cart abandonment, check out our website at Melissa Data

Melissa Data: Your Friend in Brand Integrity

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Ross: Every week, the TV Guide comes to Chandler and Joey's 
apartment. What name appears on the address label?

Rachel: Oh! Chandler gets it! It's Chandler Bing!

Monica: No!

Ross: I'm afraid the TV Guide comes to "Chanandelor Bong."

Monica: I knew that! Rachel! Use your head!

Chandler: Actually, it's Miss Chanandelor Bong.

FRIENDS Season 4, Episode 12

Bad Contact Data isn't new - it has created pop culture. This episode of Friends is a highly amusing scene, but the joke is more than simply Rachel's lack of knowledge. When it comes to contact data, who's steering the ship?

Name? Absurd. Gender? Wrong.

Maintaining the most complete and up-to-date customer information is highly important. When marketing material is sent to the same household multiple times, to different individuals or names are misspelled, it doesn't just cost you in postage. It costs your brand.

Brand integrity may be defined as the consistent image that a brand presents to the public. From social marketing to direct mail, a brand must maintain a single voice and image in order to be taken seriously and to be successful. According to The Journal of Business and Industrial Marketing, if the gap between the projected image and the reality of the customer experience widens, customers smell hypocrisy.

Melissa Data can help you anchor your brand in the public eye with better, more accurate contact data. We have a number of solutions that are made to fit your data needs. For example, Personator is a solution to consider when devising ways to preserve your brand's integrity. Personator provides name-to-address verification and cross-referencing address, name, phone, and email to ensure all data corresponds to the same individual. Personator will also enrich your contacts by adding missing address, email, and phone information, and much more. See how it works.

Then, there's mailing and shipping. You want to make your customers happy to protect your brand. Accurately mailing packages is a good way to increase customer retention. SmartMover can help. SmartMover is a real-time, cloud-based service that allows you to update the addresses of U.S. and Canadian customers that have moved. Get the current addresses of old customers who may have relocated to get your mail delivered on time, and qualify for postal discounts.

These are only a few of the ways in which Melissa Data can help you maintain your brand. Our customers are very important to us, and we are dedicated to helping you preserve the reputation of your business. Learn more when you visit our website and discover the tools you need to cultivate the integrity of your brand. 

How to Save Time and Money on Shipping and Mailing

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When it comes to mailing and shipping,  undeliverable mail, increased costs due to waste, returned mail, and keeping up with ever-changing regulations are just a few of the headaches that are dealt with. What if I told you that there are solutions to all of these problems? That you can improve your mail deliverability AND lower postage costs?

Ultimately, the answer boils down to having clean customer data. Clean customer data is a result of verifying, cleaning, and updating addresses in order to reduce costs and waste, while ensuring that your mail and packages get delivered on time, every time. With certain solutions in place, you can speed up the check out process, decrease cart abandonment through predicting delivery dates, lower mailing costs with clean, verified and up-to-date addresses, and ensure deliver to improve customer satisfaction. Here are a few of Melissa Data's solutions that can help you achieve those things:


Address Auto Completion

With a solution like Express Entry address auto completion, a type-ahead search functionality is implemented making it easier for users to enter valid address with 50% fewer keystrokes.

Predictive Shipping

Melissa Data's Decimal Shipping Calculator can boost your sales by predicting delivery dates and shipping option directly on your products page.

Postal Presorting

Presort Object helps you maximize postal processing speed and productivity while qualifying for the lowest automation and non-automation presort rates.

Global Address Verification

Melissa Data offers Cloud service and plugins that parse, standardize, cleanse, transliterate, format, and geocode address data for over 240 countries. They are available for popular platforms such as Magento, Pentaho, Salesforce, Microsoft, Dynamics, Excel, and SQL Server.

Change of Address Processing

A solution such as SmartMover National Change of Address services will update the addresses of U.S. and/or Canadian customers that have recently moved.

Postal Automation Software

MAILERS+4 is an affordable, easy-to-use bulk mail software program that verifies and standardizes addresses, dedupes your lists, and presorts your mailing.


Are you ready to minimize your mailing and shipping headaches? Learn more about these solutions and how they can help you save both time and money! 

By Natalia Crawford

Delivering the Goods

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As a retailer, you have probably taken the time to carefully select how you will ship your products. You've taken the time to select the right mailing package and the right packaging. You offer an amazing product with the quality shipping products, but have you done everything you can to ensure the delivery?

How can you ensure delivery? Well, one way is through address verification. Invalid addresses equal out to packages not being delivered which then result in unhappy customers. Sure, carriers might be able to correct addresses to ensure package delivery, but you end up having to pay extra for that service.

As you seek to expand your global reach, learning to format addresses by county is important. Not only does incorrect formatting confuse deliverers, but it also delays and at times even prevents delivery. Plus, you don't want to rely on postal services to fill-in the holes regarding your customer's information.

This is an easy problem to solve, and it is done by validating the shipping address at checkout. Melissa Data offers a verification system that uses data from international postal services as well as marketing companies and other sources to validate a shipping address at checkout by cross-referencing it against its address database. If the address provided by the customer does not turn up a match, the retailer is immediately notified and can then contact the customer.

This system can also be used to build in address auto-fill capability at checkout. This saves time for the consumer while minimizing data entry efforts. In addition, Melissa Data also provides geocoding tools to help retailers improve delivery rates by assigning a latitude and longitude to international addresses. This tells retailers whether the order is being shipped to a rural area where a delivery agent may be needed.

Data that is accurate and up-to-date will help you reduce costly returns and correct addresses to ensure delivery. Keep your customers happy and learn about Melissa Data's solutions.

By Natalia Crawford