What is NCOA?

Print Guru Marketing has a low cost solution for updating your entire database. It is called National Change Of Address (NCOA). It is a database maintained by the U.S. Postal Service of all individuals and companies who completed a Change of Address form in the previous 4 years. By sending your database to be NCOA processed, it will be updated with the most current address information. In fact, the average database is improved by 5% using this convenient service. While older databases, and those with addresses in areas such as L.A., where there are many moves, often have 10% or even 15% of their addresses updated! The cost of using NCOA is minimal and the turnaround time is just 2 business days. 

What are the best reasons to use NCOA?

Stop Losing Customers – Hidden in your database may be hundreds or even thousands of prospects that do not receive your mail anymore. Instead of losing those names, you can update your database with their most current mailing addresses.

Mail at Lower Postal Rates – For first class mailers seeking postal discounts, it is required that you mail with either postal endorsements or by using NCOA every 6 months. The Postal Service is starting to crack down. Be ahead of the curve by using NCOA now.

Increase Your Return on Investment – NCOA is the perfect opportunity for you to lower your total mailing cost and raise your response rate. You save money because NCOA will identify those records with closed P.O. boxes and moves with no forwarding address. And since updating your addresses means more of your mail pieces will be delivered correctly, you should also increase the number of responses you receive. 


How does NCOA work? When a person or business moves, they generally wish to continue to receive their mail at their new location. By filling out a Change of Address form, bills, bank statements, letters, and all other first class mail is forwarded to the new address for a period of one year. This information from the Change of Address form is added to a giant database containing more than 125 million changes of addresses. Through our NCOA service, your database is cross-referenced with the Postal NCOA Database to find moves and then updated with the newest addresses.

How current is the NCOA database? Address moves appear in the NCOA databases approximately 4 to 6 weeks after the Postal Service is notified.

How long is a change of address kept in the NCOA database? Changes of addresses are kept in the NCOA database for 4 years. Moves taken place longer than 4 years ago will not come up as an NCOA “match”.

When will the NCOA database NOT find a match? 1. The input address is not a legal Postal address. 2. The person never filled out a Change of Address form. 3. The person filed a temporary move (eg. A college student who moves home for the summer). 4. The person filed a move within the last 4 to 6 weeks. 5. The person moved too long ago (over 4 years) to be in the database.

Does sending my list through NCOA guarantee that I will not receive any returns? No. In fact, you still may get 5% back or more after using our NCOA Service. The reasons are many. First of all, NCOA is not foolproof: Sometimes people do not fill out a Change of Address Form; or, they have moved more than 4 years ago, or less than 4 weeks ago. Even more of a problem is the “match” itself. While the addresses are standardized to keep from errors, NCOA also matches on individual or business names. Misspellings of names may cause NCOA to not find a match. Lastly, NCOA is only a Change of Address service. It will not tell you if someone passed away, or a business closed down. In conclusion, NCOA will clean up your list to some extent, but no service will make it perfect.

How often should I update my file? The Postal Service requires companies to update their files every 6 months to qualify for the automated first class postage rates. NCOA is one way to update your files. Also, there is another reason to use NCOA often. It is extremely inexpensive compared to sending out a mailing piece to the wrong address. Many companies feel that the savings justify using NCOA before every mailing.

What part does Elliott Marketing Solutions play in sending my list through NCOA? To submit your file for NCOA it needs to be formatting a specific way. We will handle this formatting. Also, when your list comes back, we run it through software that uses the information provided by the NCOA database to update your fields. We do not charge a big mark-up on these services. Also, we often have to rush the mail processing of our customers’ jobs to make sure they still go out when requested, despite delays for NCOA processing. Yet we encourage our customers to use NCOA because we know it will increase their return on investment and make their direct mail more successful.

How else can I clean up my list? Once we run your list through the NCOA system, we will be happy to give you the report of changed addresses and undeliverable. Just ask before we run your project! 


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