What is NCOA and Why Do I Need It?

Inaccurate data can transform powerful communications into negative customer experiences. Even if companies rely mainly on electronic communications, variable messages and offers controlled by geographic location are worthless if they are based on incorrect address information.

NCOA stands for National Change of Address. The US Postal Service’s NCOA file includes records from individuals, families, and businesses that have moved from one physical address to another. If postal customers file a change of address form, their old and new addresses stay in the NCOA file for 48 months. The USPS uses move update information to deliver mail to the intended recipients.

Mis-addressed mail is an expensive issue for the Postal Service. They spend about $1.5 billion every year dealing with Undeliverable as Addressed (UAA) mail. That is why mailers expecting to qualify for discounted postage rates must update their mailing lists with NCOA data regularly. Mailers caught taking the postage discount without correcting addresses are subject to financial penalties.

Almost all mail service providers, including EarthColor, cross-reference mailing files with NCOA before they print the mail pieces. It is in everyone’s interest to achieve the greatest deliverability at the lowest cost. Analysts estimate businesses waste $20 billion annually on postage, mail piece production, and lost opportunities because of undeliverable mail.

NCOA for Digital Messaging

It may seem unnecessary to continue updating postal addresses on a list unlikely to receive mail. Unforeseen circumstances though, can make it critical to maintain accurate data. Regulations or legal decree can force companies to contact former customers. Product recalls, warranty extension promotions, class action lawsuits, or win-them-back campaigns are common events where reaching people by mail is the best (or only) choice.

As companies turn to digital communication channels, current postal information is still important. Addresses are useful for more than just mail delivery. Customer addresses are associated with many targeting and personalization data points used to craft variable messages. Physical location data enables organizations to suppress apartment dwellers from offers designed for single-family homeowners, for example, or to direct prospects to nearby brick and mortar sites and events. Much of the hyper personalization customers expect from digital messaging would miss the mark without correct address information.

Postal mail is the only communication channel with the ability to correct delivery data before sending. Maintaining current information on present and past customers makes good business sense and contributes to a positive customer experience.


Contact EarthColor to see how we can cross-reference your mailing files with NCOA today.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *