When a mail piece is returned to you as “undeliverable as addressed” (UAA), what does it cost you? It’s not just the design, production, and mailing costs, although those are important, too. There are other hidden costs that balloon your costs even higher. Fortunately, with a few proactive steps, you can minimize UAAs and maximize your spend.
What causes mail to be returned as undeliverable? The top three reasons are as follows:
- The addressee has moved.
- The address is incomplete, incorrect, or illegible.
- The addressee is unknown or deceased.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) estimates that these, along with other factors, cost the mailing industry $20 million per year, with the average total cost per piece of $3. With an average of 10% of a business’s direct mail returned as undeliverable, this means if you send out 15,000 mail pieces, 1,500 of them are likely to be returned at a cost of $4,500. But the actual costs can be higher.
In certain industries, there can be compliance costs, as well. Fines can be imposed if important documents don’t reach recipients within mandated notification windows
(such as those specified by the
Truth in Lending Act).
Pitney Bowes estimates that, when all factors are considered, UAAs can actually cost up to $25 per piece. Suddenly, that $4,500 cost on a 15,000-piece mailing balloons to $37,500.
What’s the answer? Get it right the first time. Take the time to de-dupe your mailing list so that you are sending only one piece to each recipient or household. Run your mailing list through all of the appropriate mail services, such as the USPS’s National Change of Address (NCOA) and Address Change Services (ACS) on a regular basis. (More than 30 million people change postal addresses every year.) Since only 60% of people who move file an address change with the USPS, consider using Enhanced NCOA, which provides updated addresses through third-party sources.