Understanding the Three USPS Approved Direct Mail Move Update Methods
Mailers can easily be confused by the different move update options. Since move update is required by the USPS on presorted First-Class and Marketing Mail within 95 days before a mailing, it must be done. It does reduce return mail and undeliverable mail to help mail flow more smoothly and get your pieces delivered correctly as well as on time. There are three USPS approved move update methods: NCOALink, Address Change Service and Ancillary Service Endorsements, let’s look at each one.
Direct Mail Move Update Options:
- NCOALink – The NCOALink process provides change-of-address (COA) data, submitted by customers who have moved and have notified the USPS of a change-of-address. Updated 18 month or 48 month computerized change-of-address information is provided on a regular basis to licensees by the USPS. NCOALink is very effective because it corrects your addresses before you mail. You will also get a flag on records that are undeliverable.
- Address Change Service (ACS) – ACS is a free service that provides mailers a cost-effective means of obtaining current change-of-address information when mail is undeliverable-as-addressed (UAA). ACS provides a data file that includes new address information or the reason your mail cannot be delivered (examples: “Attempted – Not Known” or “Insufficient Address”).
- Ancillary Service Endorsements (ASE) – Ancillary service endorsements are used to request an addressee’s new address and to provide the Postal Service with instructions on how to handle your mail if it is undeliverable-as-addressed (UAA). “Address Service Requested”, “Change Service Requested” and “Return Service Requested” endorsements meet the Move Update standard and provide you with the new address or the reason the mail cannot be delivered through either an address correction notice or the return of your mail.
ACS and ASE are post-mailing updates and do not necessarily meet the Move Update requirement for the mailing. As long as you continue to mail to your customers at least once every 95 days using a post-mailing method, and update your addresses to be used on the mail pieces before the next mailing, you are in compliance with Move Update. Otherwise, if you mail more than 95 days after the last mailing or if this is the very first time you mail to an address, you must use the NCOA method or mail the pieces at the single-piece First Class Mail.
The matching logic differs between ACS and NCOA. The USPS name and address matching rules are strict when processing a mailing list through NCOALink, so if the name or address on your list does not meet the strict rules defined, or if the change of address was submitted after the most recent product update, it will not update the list. The average match rate for NCOA is 70% to 80% of the possible moves. The matching logic is controlled by USPS regulations and is designed to prevent mismatches.
The benefits of NCOALink processing are that it meets Move Update requirements for first-time lists to qualify for discounted First Class and Marketing Mail. You will get your data file with the fixed addresses as well as error codes for people who have moved but have no new address on file or other address matching problem so that they can be removed from your list before you mail.
There are three types of ACS service:
- Traditional ACS – Requires printing the ACS Keyline on each piece. This is the way to get the most current Move Update information from the USPS.
- OneCode ACS – This utilizes the IMb barcode for ACS information and is only available for basic mail pieces. The keyline is actually the IMb serial number, and nothing additional needs to be printed on the mail piece.
- Full Service ACS – This is just like OneCode, all of the relevant information is contained within the barcode, but it is only available for Full Service pieces. Full service ACS is offered by the USPS free of charge, as long as the mailing itself is Full Service. Although it is free there still may be fees assessed, if you chose a service that involves returning pieces to you. This is done at the full single piece rate.
Now let’s look as ASE, you must choose the type of service based on how you want the mail pieces and return information handled.
Three Types of Ancillary Services:
- Change Service Requested – This method gets you the updated address information you need.
- Address Service Requested – This method gets the mail piece to the recipient when possible and you get the updated address information.
- Return Service Requested – This method returns the mail piece to you with any information the post office has on an updated address.
As you can see you have many options for updating your data when people move. There are actually several other options that are not USPS move update, but can help you keep your list up to date. Now that you know what is acceptable you can decide what will work best for you. Sending your mail to correct addresses helps your ROI and response rate! Which one is right for you?
Summer Gould is Account Executive at Neyenesch Printers. Summer has spent her 31 year career helping clients achieve better marketing results. She has served as a panel speaker for the Association of Marketing Service Providers conferences. She is active in several industry organizations and she is a board member for Printing Industries Association San Diego, as well as the industry chair for San Diego Postal Customer Council. You can find her at Neyenesch’s website: neyenesch.com, email: email@example.com, on LinkedIn, or on Twitter @sumgould.