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Mailing and Data Processing Terms Every Mailer Needs To Know


Mastering Mailing: Essential Glossary for Data Processing Success


A few critical components (design, data, audience, timing) go into creating a successful direct mail campaign. Ensuring that you have a clean and optimized data list is one of the deciding factors in the success of your campaign. Many mailing industry jargon regarding a direct mail campaign's data and list components must be clarified.


We've compiled a list of mailing and data processing terms you want to be familiar with before starting your next direct mail campaign. 


Input file: The input file is your raw unprocessed customer-supplied data or unprocessed lists acquired from external list providers.


Output file: The output is the processed data ready to drive personalization for inkjet mailing, digital printing, web landing pages, and email blasts.


Matchback:  Extracting some data field or fields from a record in one or more files and adding those extracted fields to a record in the output file by matching on a unique data field or ID.


Append:  Processing multiple input files and merging them into one file.


Dedupe: This is removing duplicate records from a mailing list. This is important to avoid wasting money on mailings that will be returned as undeliverable.  We can remove records based on values in any field or field. For the removal of individuals based on address information, we have three predefined rules:

* Individual – Records are considered duplicates if the FULL NAME and ADDRESS match exactly. All duplicate records except one are removed from the output file.

* Family – Records are considered duplicates if the LAST NAME and ADDRESS match exactly. All duplicate records except one are removed from the output file.

* Address – Records are considered duplicates if the ADDRESS is an exact match. All duplicate records except one are removed from the output file.


PAVE: PAVE stands for Presort Accuracy Validation and Evaluation. This is a program that the USPS uses to evaluate the accuracy of presorted mail. Mailers that meet PAVE standards are eligible for additional postage discounts.


Suppression:  Using one or more files as a master list of records to be removed from an input file or files. When files on the master list match those on the suppression list, they get released.


CASS: Coding Accuracy Support System. This program, developed by the United States Postal Service (USPS), helps ensure the accuracy of addresses on mailpieces.


NCOA: National Change of Address. This is a database of address changes that the USPS maintains. It updates mailing lists to ensure mail is delivered to the correct address.


Presort: Function within data processing to organize the delivery address records in a method defined by the USPS and to generate required postal paperwork for the USPS to accept a mailing.


PAF:  A Processing Acknowledgement Form is a USPS-required form the customer must sign to allow your mailer to process their address information through the USPS NCOA system and databases.


Even though technology advances, direct mail campaigns are still in high demand. So that means it is essential to have a good understanding of how they work. Having the correct terminology and data can ensure that your next campaign will achieve your business goals!  We excel here; we'd love to walk you through our award-winning processes.




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