February 2008 Newsletter

Maintaining Your Mailing Lists

**** The 4specs Perspective

Almost every company has several mailing lists - architects with binders, architects that have requested information, contractors, distributors, etc. Companies move, and maintaining a valid list over many years can be a difficult task.

When a company moves, they will fill out a change of address card at the post office to have mail forwarded. This system is called National Change of Address (NCOA) and the list is made available to mailing list companies.

4specs has been using an online service - Listcleanup.com - for many years to help maintain our manufacturer database. You export your list into a dbf or xls formatted file, zip it, and upload it to their server. For $45 they will process your list - the minimum cost covers up to 70,000 records. This is primarily for US addresses. Listcleanup does have a Canadian service available, which is somewhat different.

[We are now using a different service - Mail List Cleaner]

Listcleanup.com advertises a 2-day turnaround for the address update and 2 more days for upper and lower casing to be done. My experience is that they are finished much faster.

You may need to do additional work on some of the addresses:

If your names are maintained as part of another system - say your accounting system - before starting you will have to consider how to import the standardized and updated names back into your database. I use a unique id for each record to prevent problems when importing the addresses back into our main database. I import the addresses that are newly standardized (they are identified) and import to new fields the moved addresses. We then telephone each company to check the address and current phone number and move the new address to the normal address field.

Once the addresses have been standardized and updated you can use Standard Mail (formerly bulk-rate mail) at a lower cost to do major mailings. This can produce significant savings on a large mailing.

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Colin Gilboy
Publisher - 4specs
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