Chances are your business is just emerging from Covid and you’re looking to put some momentum into your marketing efforts. Mass mailing is still one of the most effective promotional tools, but the rules are constantly changing. When providing databases to be used for mailing or other marketing campaigns, it is important to follow these guidelines for formatting your address files. Unlike first class mail, undeliverable mail will not be returned to you, it will simple be discarded and you will never know.
HERE’S WHAT YOUR MAILING HOUSE WOULD LIKE TO RECEIVE:
- File should be an Excel spreadsheet (.xls or .csv)
- File should have column headers (First Name, Last Name, Address, etc.). Headers should be clear and self-explanatory.
- A separate column should be assigned for each variable field (such as name, title, business name, address). The only 2 exceptions where information can be combined are: 1) City State Zip, and 2) Full Name (ex. Mr. John James).
- The address line should be in its own column, clear of any other information, in order to pass the USPS address verification. For example, “1234 Fair Oaks Avenue Ste A” should be in a field by itself. Any other information such as department name, floor level, plaza name, care of name, etc. should be in a secondary address column.
- Addresses should be limited to 2 fields. The USPS address verification can only verify 2 address fields.
- File cannot have hard returns within a field.
- Data should be formatted as the customer wants it to appear on printed piece.
- For projects that use more than variable text (such as photos or signatures), it is highly recommended to consult your shipper.
EXAMPLE OF AN ACCEPTABLE DATABASE
EXAMPLE OF AN UNUSABLE DATABASE
WHAT ABOUT SINGLE LETTERS?
If you are sending individual letters out to clients, be sure to address the envelope correctly. Here is some advice from USPS:
- Always put the address and the postage on the same side of your mailpiece.
- On a letter, the address should be parallel to the longest side.
- All capital letters.
- No punctuation.
- At least 10-point type.
- One space between city and state.
- Two spaces between state and ZIP Code.
- Simple type fonts.
- Left justified.
- Black ink on white or light paper.
- No reverse type (white printing on a black background).
- If your address appears inside a window, make sure there is at least 1/8-inch clearance around the address. Sometimes parts of the address slip out of view behind the window and mail processing machines can’t read the address.
- If you are using address labels, make sure you don’t cut off any important information. Also make sure your labels are on straight. Mail processing machines have trouble reading crooked or slanted information.
Automated mail processing machines read addresses on mailpieces from the bottom up and will first look for a city, state, and ZIP Code. Then the machines look for a delivery address.
If the machines can’t find either line, then your mailpiece could be delayed or misrouted. Any information below the delivery address line (a logo, a slogan, or an attention line) could confuse the machines and misdirect your mail.