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3 Questions You May Have about Postcard Returns

February 28, 2019

MovingLeads.com goes through great lengths to ensure that our lists contain the most up-to-date and deliverable addresses but a small percentage of return mail is unavoidable. The average direct mail return rate is 10 percent, according to the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). That means for every 100 postcards you mail, 10 could come back as undeliverable. But, because of our verification process, our customers often experience less than a 10 percent return rate.

And while you don’t want to see your postcards returned, it shouldn’t deter you from taking advantage of direct mail. Even with a 10 percent return rate, direct mail still delivers more qualified leads than many other marketing channels.

Even so, you may be wondering why returns happen. So we’ve compiled the answers to three of the most common questions we receive below.


1) Why do returns happen?

Around 40 million Americans move every year. But only 50 percent of movers fill out the National Change of Address Form from the USPS. And yes, that means 20 million residences aren’t updated within the U.S. postal system’s address database.

If a homeowner doesn’t submit a change of address form then there information will not be accurate when we go to check the status. There is no way for us to know that this leads should be removed from our list.

When the post office goes to deliver the mail, the USPS then relies on letter-carriers to notice if a home or apartment appears vacant. The carrier then notifies the office that the property is vacant and it is added to the database—a process which can take up to 90 days. Again, the postcards will come back as return in this scenario and there’s no way for us to know to remove this lead prior to mailing.

Here’s how the USPS marks returned mail:

  • Vacant: Post office tried to deliver mail but found the house was not occupied. Homeowner failed to complete change of address form.
  • Not Deliverable as Addressed: The address is deliverable, but homeowner did not complete a change of address form.
  • Unable to Forward/Insufficient Address: The address is deliverable. But the forwarding period expired.

Once in a while, you may receive a large amount of returns. Don’t be alarmed— this doesn’t mean your return rate is over the industry average. The post office will sometimes hold all returns from six to eight weeks of mailings and return them all at once. To be sure this is what happened, check the time period for when your returns were originally mailed. You can look up the addresses on your Daily Leads in your Moving Leads email.


Bottom Line: No matter what, there will always be some returned mail. Moving Leads usually beats the industry average of 10 percent because of our thorough vetting process.



2) Do returns mean I am getting bad leads?

No. Our leads are based on the most current data out there. We also make every effort to suppress bad address data and reduce our customers’ rate of returns. We often suppress up to 50% of the raw listings during our verification process.

Every day, we verify leads using the following:

  • Verified Active Listing: We use multiple sources to make sure all our leads are brand new, active listings.
  • County Records: We append the list by homeowner name to eliminate empty lots, new construction, rentals, and bank-owned properties.
  • CASS Software: We verify that the addresses are valid and deliverable, according to the USPS.
  • NOCA Database: We check against the USPS database for a change of addresses and vacancies.

Bottom Line: No one can eliminate returns, but there are strategies we use to make sure your mailing list is the best it can be. See what we do to ensure we are giving our customers the best list possible in our article Not All Leads Are Created Equal.

3) Are my marketing dollars wasted on return mail?

As we mentioned earlier, returned mail is just a normal part of direct mail.

Just like expenses for printing postcards or buying stamps, returned mail is a normal cost of doing direct mail. And you shouldn’t let a few returns prevent you from reaching out to all the other potential leads with direct mail.

It’s important to consider the benefits of direct mail. Direct mail consistently pulls in a much higher response rate than email and digital advertising combined. Our clients report a 1 to 3 percent response rate which is much more than email (0.2 percent) and online advertising (0.1 percent.) So even with some inevitable returns, postcards are still a smart use of your marketing dollars to get qualified leads in your pipeline.

Bottom line: Even with a 10 percent return rate, direct mail still gets much better results than other types of marketing. It’s one of the most cost-effective way to attract qualified leads. Focus on your cost-per-call and your cost-per-booking, and as long as these goals are being met, then you shouldn’t let return mail deter you from doing direct mail.

Take Advantage of the Fastest, Most Accurate Service in the Industry

At Moving Leads, we provide the best daily fulfillment option out there. We print your postcards and mail the postcard on the same day you receive the lead. And because we only use first-class postage, your postcard arrives in home quickly.

To learn more about our daily leads and auto-fulfillment services, call us at 303-443-0767.

Categories: About MovingLeads.com, Direct Mail Works