Why is CASS certification important when running a direct mail marketing campaign?

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Answered by: Scott, An Expert in the Marketing Tools Category
The Coding Accuracy Support System (CASS) compares an original input mailing list against the U.S.P.S. address database, which greatly helps a direct mail marketing campaign succeed as it reduces costs and increases mail piece deliverability.

Addresses that match accepted entries into this database, said to have “passed CASS certification,” enjoy a much better automation postage rate than those who fail this process. CASS certification also helps mail carriers deliver the mail more accurately, as the addresses are standardized and easier to interpret. Two hundred unique addresses are required for this process, and while the CASS database is updated monthly, and mailers are required to update their files every two months, as they expire.

CASS processing standardizes the input addresses. This involves removing unnecessary punctuation and other information; abbreviating street, city and state names; casing the addresses to be all in uppercase format; and adding the ZIP Plus 4 code when applicable, which qualifies it for an automation rate bar code. This serves an additional benefit when the mailer is required to remove duplicate addresses from a mail list, as different entries may contain different abbreviations and punctuation, causing them to not be detected as duplicates.

For example:

Original address from               16,356 No. Thompson Peak Parkway

mail list:                         Scottsdale, Arizona 85260

Standardized address eligible     16356 N THOMPSON PEAK PKWY

for Automation rates:               SCOTTSDALE AZ 85260-2102

Mailers have the option to revert back to upper- and lower-case formatting to give the addressed mail piece a more personal feel, but they are limited to using only approved font types, sizes, vertical spacing, and other various limitations. When an address passes CASS and is assigned the ZIP Plus 4 code, it is then eligible to receive discounts that are in addition to the basic “presorted” discounts to which addresses that fail CASS are limited.

It is important to understand that an address that fails CASS processing is not necessarily an address that doesn't exist, but that it doesn't meet the requirements to qualify as automation mail, therefore paying the higher rates. One example would be a residence that is all alone on top of a mountain road. The number, street name, and zip code are all perfectly correct, but due to the fact that the mail carrier must go so far off the beaten path to deliver mail there, a ZIP Plus 4 is not assigned, so the best discount category available is “presorted.”

CASS certification therefore helps a direct mail marketing campaign in several ways:

     It standardizes addresses to ensure proper, accurate delivery by the mail carrier and removal of duplicates.

     It adds ZIP Plus 4 coding to the addresses, resulting in the ability to apply automation compatible bar codes that speed up the travel of the mail pieces through the mail stream, reducing postage costs.

     It filters out poor or incorrect addresses. This gives the mailer or the mailer's customer the option to either mail these pieces at a higher rate, with a lower chance of them being delivered; or to be discarded, lowering the overall postage for the mail campaign and increasing the probability that all pieces will be successfully delivered to the intended recipients.

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