“These are names and addresses from the donor file that come close to matching to the NCOA database but exhibit one or more differences in the comparison,” he explains.
The U.S. Postal Service cannot return a new address for a “nixie” because of the uncertainty surrounding the match, no matter how slight.
But some cagey mailers try sending to nixies on the off chance that a keying error occurred. (It’s possible for a donor to still live at the original address even though she showed up as a possible mover. If you do mail nixies, make sure to give them a unique source code and measure the performance of the test.)
Mednick adds that a number of other useful file-hygiene services are available depending on the specific needs, such as mining for deceased names. Check with your merge/purge provider to discuss extra services that might be of value to your specific campaign.
And don’t forget to suppress the Direct Marketing Association’s Mail Preference file from the output of the merge/purge. You’ll eliminate the names of consumers who’ve told the DMA that they don’t wish to receive fundraising appeals. You’ll lower your costs, be better stewards of your resources and lessen the flack that can come from mailing large acquisition appeals.
How clean is clean?
Sophisticated mailers already know that a “clean” file with accurate names and addresses means lower costs and higher revenue per piece mailed.
But what are the practical limits of a clean file? When the NCOA report comes back with your donor file, what is a good passing grade?
Some consultants will argue that no more than 3 percent to 4 percent of a file should need correction at any point in time. However, Mednick argues that a file that comes back after an NCOA cleaning with changes in a “single-digits percentage” was already pretty good.