Back To Basics – The Merge/Purge Process 09/17/2008 "Need to Know" for Jewish non-profits, Direct Mail Basics
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Data processing and specifically the merge/purge process remains a mystery even to many long-time direct marketers.

Here’s the skinny:

You need this service and it is the most cost-effective part of the direct mail process. It can literally save you tens-of-thousands of dollars depending on size of your mailing.

Here’s what happens during a typical Negev Direct merge/purge:

1) List inputs from all lists you are using are format-standardized so they can be compared. Intra-file duplicates are eliminated.

2) Keycodes are added to each list so you can track the list source of your donors and see which lists performed best.

3) Bad and incomplete addresses are identified and deleted. National Change of Address is run and address changes are made.

4) All addresses and zipcodes are compared and matched against a US Postal Service supplied database for accuracy. Bad zips and addresses are flagged and corrected when possible. Zip+4 is added for additional postal discounts.

5) Names matching those in the Direct Marketing Association’s “Do Not Mail†Pander file are suppressed.

6) Names matching those in the Negev Direct Jewish Nixie File (a Negev exclusive) are presumed uncontactable are also suppressed.

7) Any additional names that you have given us to suppress (like your house file)
are dropped from the mailing.

8) The lists are prioritized and compared to each other. Duplicates between the various lists are identified and only one version is kept on the final mailing output.

9) The final list is split into segments, if necessary, according to your directions.

10) A postal presort is performed on the remaining names to ensure that you receive the lowest possible postage rates available.

So how does a merge/purge save you money?

Let’s say you are mailing 50,000 names. Each piece that you mail, on average is going to cost you $0.50. You identify 7,500 duplicate names between the lists and another 1,000 that are on your house file.

You just saved $4,000 by not mailing a second package to the same person.

Also, let’s say that the National Change of Address identified 200 people who moved and no longer have a valid forwarding address. That’s another $100 saved. Plus we found an additional 800 people who have moved and would not have received you mail if we had not corrected the address. More money saved.

Finally, your postal presort drops your mail costs from 28 cents per piece to 13 cents per piece. Congratulations; you just saved another $7,500!

Wasn’t that fun and easy?