Direct Mail Tips & Insights

Helpful Tips for Direct Mail Data Processing



ThinkstockPhotos-522795920_copy.jpgA successful direct mail campaign leans heavily on good data. Without accurate data processing, no matter how attractive the direct mail piece is, you won't be successful. The bare minimum of data processing for all mailing projects have three components: CASS-certification, pre-sorting, and deduping. These steps cannot be bypassed. They must be done in order to produce a list for pre-sorting mail and for the laser and printing machines.

Read on to learn more about the three data processing components for direct mail projects that are effective in keeping mailing costs down.


The CASS system (Coding Accuracy Support System) was established to help the mailing industry improve the accuracy of postal codes, delivery points (DCPs), and carrier routes. This is the first step in the direct mail data processing process, and is one of the most important in improving accuracy and driving down costs spent on incorrect or faulty addresses.

Click here to read more about the CASS system.


Pre-sorting mail is the next step. In addition to CASS-certifying mail and addresses, pre-sorting is another cost-saving technique. Commercial mailers that take the time to pre-sort mail often find that this step also reduces postage costs.


 Data de-duping is eliminating the duplicate copies of data. During this process the list is verified against data bureau services, any extra characters or blanks are eliminated, and duplicate records are removed. This step is crucial for your direct mail campaign. It makes sure people are not getting the same message twice, and it can lower your costs by eliminating unneccessary duplicates. 

There is another step that your direct mail provider can take to maximize your campaign's success, and it is called NCOA.


Commercial mailers can access the National Change of Address (NCOA), which is a database comprised of 160+ million records of individuals, families, and businesses who filed a change-of-address with the USPS. NCOA is also required by the USPS every 90 days. 

You Can Learn 3 Ways to Make Your Direct Mail Data Processing Faster here.

What About Digital Jobs? 

Digital jobs, however, involve a few extra steps, depending on a client’s variability needs for the piece. For digitally printed jobs such as variable letters, postcards and self-mailers the complexity of the data can range. Some projects might only want the text to be variable. For example, each person’s name, account information, or offer can vary. In this case the data must be coded to call out the different demographic types so it is clear which segment the piece will be delivered to.

Other more complex projects can call out different texts and images, known as ‘versioning’. This means that the text and images can change for each segment of the market.

For saturation mailings a process called “walk sequence” is used or the new term of DSF2. This type of processing is only done when the list is for a saturation mailing of a certain area. This means that the addresses are processed in the order of the postman’s ‘walk sequence’ as he or she delivers the mail. This gives a better postage rate, however around 80% of the list must be localized around a certain zip code to be used.

Finally, by following these three crucial steps in the direct mail data process, commercial mailers can not only improve efficiency and increase accuracy with each direct mail project but also drive down postage costs. 

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