First Class Mailings and Returned Mail

Are you getting returned mail in your marketing campaigns? If you are mailing at First-Class rates, mail will be returned as undeliverable for various reasons:   

  • The person or business addressed moved and did not file a change of address with the post office.
  • The person addressed is deceased.
  • An apartment number or suite number was not included as part of the address.
  • An internal mailstop number wasn't included - some large companies require this before their internal mailroom will deliver it.

There will always be a certain portion of a mailing list that may not be deliverable.  The Post Office statistics say that 20% of the population is in transit at any point in time.  A return rate of up to 10% is considered to be industry standard and should be factored into your budget.  An even higher percentage of people leaving their positions at businesses do not file change of address forms. This is especially true in this time of Covid 19.  

Consideration should be given if it is more important to follow the person to their new address or if a change of address wasn't filed, to get the mailpiece returned - OR is it more important for the mailpiece to get delivered to a specific address rather than to the specific person.

Returns can be minimized by mailing at bulk mail rates rather than 1st class or by adding “Or Current Resident” to the address or in the case of business addresses - mail to the department rather than a specific person, i.e. Attn:  Marketing Director. 

Some thought should be given to these issues prior to mailing -- talk to us and let us give you strategy advice.

DBS - Helping you mail smarter!



Postage costs are changing on January 24th. Here are the change comparisons between 2020 and 2021 for first class mail. Additional posts coming for other classes of mail.

DBS - helping you mail smarter!

What does "one per household" mean?

Most times, our clients want a list that is "one per household". Generally that means they want "one per address" so there aren't duplicate addresses being mailed. But what about when household isn't so clearly defined.  What if there are unrelated roommates? What about grown adults living with parents or grandparents? Should each of them get their own mail piece?

Most mailing list compilers do think of one per household as being one per common last name. If there are roomate situations or other configurations within the home, there will likely be duplicates to the address, resulting in the need to remove duplicates prior to mailing, if in fact you only wanted one per address.

There is not any one answer to this - so, each mailing campaign should carefully consider this.  It's an important distinction to make when ordering the data.  

DBS - Helping You Mail Smarter!

Is it K or M when referring to "per thousand"?

 Have you noticed.... that the print / mailing / marketing services world uses "M" in their pricing quotes while the financial world uses "K" and each one means "per thousand? 

In the marketing and data world, "M"  stands for per thousand records of data. In the print world, it would stand for per thousand sheets of paper, or other print functions like inserting, or completed print pieces. Many manufacturers also use "M" in their per unit pricing.

M and MM are Roman numerals where M stands for "one thousand" and MM is intended to denote "one thousand thousands"or "one million". A quote for mailing services would commonly show as $ /M.  For example, a cost quoted as $25/M would equate to $25 for every thousand pieces. It has its roots in the British Imperial System using Roman numerals and can also be referred to as USCS (US Customary System).

CPM - Cost Per Thousand  (M=1,000) - is a marketing advertising term referring to the cost usually referred to for internet pricing. For example - the cost of a Google or Facebook ad might show as $10 CPM, meaning $10 for every thousand times your ad appears. CPC means "cost per click".

The financial world uses "K" when referring to "per thousand dollars". Why is there such a difference in terms when they basically mean the same thing?

K comes from the Greek world "kilo" which means one thousand and is used in metric / decimal systems. The corresponding prefix for one million is M. An amount in the accounting and financial world shown as $14K would equate to $14,000.00. 

It is entirely possible when dealing with a vendor that both terms could be used in the same sentence:  An example would be a marketing quote for 80,000 records of data for a list order or pertaining to a large print order:

                        $45/M x 80 = $3.6k ($3,600.00)

One answer I came across as to why industry uses USCS and not metric is that when the industrial revolution happened, measurements were based on the imperial system and as time went on, it was too cost prohibitive to change. Industries dealing with international business would likely use metric.

Otherwise, I can't really find an answer as to why these two professions use different ways of of expressing "per thousand". Trust me though -- it makes a big difference when talking with various vendors for services. It's good to understand that these differences exist. 

DBS - helping you to mail smarter

When things don't go right.......

I recently took on a very small project of printing and mailing a postcard for a local non-profit group - under 150 pieces.  I donated my time and costs for getting a mailing list for them.   Because it was so small and virtually no budget, and the local printers had minimums, setup fees, etc. that made it not feasible to order from them, I ordered postcards from an online East Coast print company that was offering a great deal - and they provided mailing services as well with a guaranteed two-day turnaround.   Sounds like a great solution, right?  Except it was for a specific event and the postcards never arrived in time for the event even though the postcards were sent 1st class.

The print company dropped the postcards into the mail stream when they said they would (two day turnaround) The Post Office said they did not think we allowed enough time. WHHHHAAAATTTT?   Eight days for delivery not enough time??????? 

So what's the moral of the story???   Not sure if I should focus on the fact that the Post Office now believes eight days is not sufficient time for 1st class mail to get delivered OR to extol the virtues of using local printers who would drop the mail locally.  On the other hand.... the nonprofit didn't have the funds to use the local source, so the alternative was not to do the advertising to start with.

In the end......... the event didn't get the promised advertising, the donor who paid for the mailing is out some money and I look bad for suggesting a service that didn't pan out.  Hmmmm - sometimes ya just can't win :(

California New Privacy Law

Notice to Marketers:  California has a new privacy law that took effect January 1, 2020

This law grants consumers a right to request companies that are in the business of selling data to disclose the categories and specific pieces of personal information that is collected about the consumer. It grants the consumer the right to request deletion of personal information and requires the business to delete their information upon request. Failure to respond could result in penalties.

"Personal information" means information that identifies, relates to, describes, is capable of being associated with, or could reasonably be linked, directly or indirectly, with a particular consumer or household. Personal information includes, but not limited to using a real name, alias, online identifier,  postal address, email address, etc.

The bill, however, specifically allows use of personal information that is gathered from "publicly available information". 

DBS is in the business of selling data for use in advertising goods and services. This data is obtained through a variety of sources - most comes from public data and others is inferred or obtained by other self-reported sources.

To comply with this, a suppression file would need to be created of people who make this request. We would have to rely on each client to keep a file of people requesting to be taken off a list and suppress from each mailing. 

Because we do not believe a suppression list could be maintained without error, we will change our practices, for the time being, to be in compliance by selling lists for mailing in California that are addressed only to "Resident" rather than a specific name. 

We value our California clients and hope implementation of this law does not affect your marketing efforts. Please reach out for any questions or follow-up on this issue. 

DBS - Helping you mail better and smarter

Go to this link to read the language in the full bill,  California Privacy Law 2020

Direct Mail STILL works!

There is more opportunity than ever to 
get your advertising message out!

Internet and social media has fast become an alternative method of advertising but......

Direct Mail is still one of the best methods for getting a good return on your advertising budget.

Studies show that receiving a physical piece in the mail will improve the chances of it actually getting read.  The trick is to mail to those people who are most interested in your product or service and use smart mailing techniques to reduce costs.
Using a list brokerage like can help target your mailing to those that most likely to be interested in what you have to sell by using demographically enhanced or direct response lists.  

The best example I can use is one of my clients who sells fishing supplies.  Rather than mail to a broad base of people in a given zip code or geographic area, we find lists of people who are actually interested in fishing.  On the other hand, a local restaurant or hospital might want to mail to every household in a given radius or apply other demographic overlay, like age, income or home value.
Your direct mail costs can be reduced by cleaning and updating your in-house database.   

DBS can standardize your address list, check for people who have moved, remove duplicate addresses or people who are deceased, update for zip code changes and more.....

DBS can help you mail smarter -- call us to see how we can help.
AZ - 480-227-8685 / CO - 303-257-2923

“The mailing list is the single most important 
component of any direct mail campaign. 

If you are missing the target, 
it doesn’t matter what you are selling 
or how powerful your message!”

                                                                    ~Author Unknown

Let us help target your next mailing
DBS - Helping you mail better - and smarter!

Is Your Marketing Database Costing You Money?

It IS costing you money if it contains a lot of inconsistencies in how the data has been entered like:  

John Q. Smith | 123 South Main Street | Anytown | Anystate | 12345  
John  Smith     | 123 So Main Street      | Anytn       | Anystate | 12345-4321
John Q. Smith | 123 S Main St               | Anytown  | AS           | 12345
John Q. Smith | 123  Main St So            | Any Town | AS          | 12345
J. Smith           | 123 S Main Str #1         | Anytown  | A S          | 12345
John Q. Smith | 123 S Main St , Apt 1   | Anytown  | AS           | 12345
These are examples  of the kind of inconsistencies that we commonly see when working on databases that can make it difficult to  catch them  as duplicates.

Chances are, YOUR database has a lot of input errors and sloppy data entry that can keep you from using the database effectively for your marketing campaigns.  It's not unusual - most companies have databases that need cleaning up, standardizing the data, removing duplicates etc. 

Even with excellent data input, there are  other factors that can cause your database to be outdated.   People move and zip codes or area codes change.
DBS can work with you to standardize and correct your data
· Eliminate Duplicate Records ( Merge/Purge )
· Field Parsing
· Address Standardization
· Upper / Lower Case - change casing
· NCOA (National Change of Address) update for people who’ve moved
· Remove Deceased names
· Update Area Codes and Zip Codes
· Data Entry

All that effort you put into capturing data about your customers or prospects is only valuable if you can use it.  You will get a much better response AND save money if your data is cleaned up. 

 DBS can help you mail BETTER and SMARTER

Have you looked at your customer data lately?

Chances are, it is full of addresses that have changed zip codes, have lots of duplicate records , or even worse - the record gets rejected by USPS because of key-in errors and sloppy data etry. 

All that effort you put into capturing data about your customers or prospects is only valuable if you can use it.  Clean up your database for better response.

DBS will quickly and economically turn your data into a form that you can use for mail merging and accurate reports, and return it to you in a convenient format that will work with your current software.

· Data Conversion
· Eliminate Duplicate Records ( Merge/Purge )
· Field Parsing
· Address Standardization
· Upper / Lower Case Mailing File
· NCOA (National Change of Address)
· Data Append (telephone numbers, email address etc.)
· Update Area Codes and Zip Codes
· Data Entry
· Repair Key-In Errors
· Personalized Laser Letters
· Database and Report Creation

 DBS - helping you mail smarter!

Are You Mailing To Dead People?

I was talking to the receptionist at the assisted living facility that my Mother lives at and she told me about the mountains of mail she receives daily for people who have passed on to the great beyond and asked if there was anything that could be done to get it to stop.I explained that most reputable list compilers pass their data against the deceased file before it is released to advertisers, but not everyone does. And, if it is an internal list and isn't updated  then that person's name will be used on mailings until someone tells them to remove it.  And, to make things worse - deceased names can also come back on when people leave the deceased's name on telephone directories, utility billings etc. perpetuating the problem. It just gets picked up over and over by advertisers even when they are doing everything they can.

Are you mailing to dead people?

Unless you are routinely cleaning your list, then there is a good chance you are.  We can clean your mailing list for you by running your data through a process that identifies deceased people. At the same time, we can pick up new addresses where people have moved and remove bad addresses.

It costs a lot of money for printing and postage -- don't waste your money -- statistics show dead people never order.  Increase your ROI - only mail to people who are breathing.

DBS can help you mail better - and smarter!

What exactly IS Junk Mail?

According to the dictionaries, junk mail is defined as......

       (Business / Marketing) untargeted mail advertising goods or services
                ~Collins English Dictionary

       Third-class mail, such as advertisements, mailed indiscriminately in large quantities.
                ~American Heritage Dictionary

I hear people say they are sooooo tired of all the "junk mail" they receive.  

Funny what some people say they consider junk mail.  When I ask them what part is junk, they are hard pressed to say but it usually comes down to -- the mail that isn't relevant to them at that moment in time. 

What kind of mail DO they want?

     -They DO like hearing about new businesses in the area.
     -They DO like getting notices of sales for products they are interested in
     -They DO like getting notices of upcoming community events - for activities they like

As long as it is something THEY want.... then it's not junk mail -- to them anyway.

Is your mailing going to be perceived as "Junk Mail" or are you targeting your mailing list so great that it will be perceived as "Wanted Mail".

What can you do for people to WANT your mail?  By Targeting your mailing list to mail to only those people interested in what you are selling!

DBS can help you with that!

We can help you target your mail by:

     -Radius around your business
     -By Demographics -- age, gender, income levels, homeowner, etc.
     -By Specific Interest -- if you sell fishing supplies.... target people who like to fish.

If your business is selling neighborhood services, then it would make sense to mail to every household in a specific radius around the business.  There is no need to blanket an entire area however if what you are selling is something that only a particular segment of population needs or wants.

Statistics show that people like having something physical to look at - to set aside until they are ready to take action. I have an area on my counter where I put advertisements for things I intend to buy, just not this week. Then when I am ready, I have it on hand, ready to take advantage of the offer.  Direct mail advertising is still one of the most effective ways to advertise.

DBS - helping you mail better - and smarter!