Understanding and Using NCOALink Results
This post continues our series in getting the most from your address list. To learn about address correction results, read Understanding Address Correction Results and Using Address Correction Results to Reduce Return Mail.
In addition to the results from Address Correction, NCOALink® processing includes more return codes and data, which you can usually find in the field NCOALink Footnote. You may want to put additional address handling rules in place to take advantage of these results.
About NCOALink processing
All NCOALink processes go through similar steps:
- The list is run through an approved CASS Certified™ software engine to cleanse and standardize the addresses.
- Validated addresses are then sent through NCOALink processing. Depending on the vendor you use, the addresses are compared against a data set of moves covering the last 18 or 48 months (Satori Software is a 48-month provider). This data set is a collection of the moves submitted to USPS by individuals, families and businesses.
- For addresses that have a confirmed move, the new address is returned. In some cases, your contact may have moved more than once. When multiple moves are on file, they are “chained” and the most current address is returned to you. NCOALink processing rules may prevent you from getting the new address for some moves. The next section shows you how to identify these addresses.
Matched and unmatched addresses
These straightforward results are easy to handle — if a move is found, update your record with the updated address. The majority of your list will not return moves. We recommend updating these records anyway, as the address may have been modified to be more USPS compliant during the Address Correction phase. Matched and unmatched addresses return a code of A, 0, 91 or 92 in Satori Software products.
New address unavailable
Some new addresses are unavailable through NCOALink processing. Here are some common reasons why the address couldn’t be updated:
- Contact moved to a foreign address. NCOALink does not return foreign addresses.
- Contact moved or closed their PO Box without a forwarding address. In this case, USPS knows that the contact no longer receives mail at this address, but they’re not sure where to forward it.
- Contact moved to an address that isn’t in the USPS CASS database. This is common for people moving to newly constructed housing.
- A similar move entry was found, but isn’t an exact match. NCOALink processing uses a complex set of rules that includes identifying people by their gender, full or abbreviated middle name, nicknames and other features. If a conflict in the name is found, the new address is not returned.
When the new address is unavailable, there are several ways to handle the address. Here are some suggestions:
- When the contact has definitely moved, but the new address isn’t available (usually foreign moves or no forwarding information found), contact your customer by phone or email to request an updated address, or just remove the record from your list entirely. Mail sent to the address is not likely to reach your intended contact.
- When the new address isn’t in the CASS database yet, go ahead and send mail that is not time-sensitive. Mail is likely get forwarded to your intended recipient, but may take awhile. Be sure to include this address the next time you process the list through NCOALink, as the new address will generally be available within a month or two.
- When a match isn’t found due to a name mismatch, check the name that you have on file. Are you using a nickname or middle name for your contact? Using the formal name (e.g., William rather than Bill) and no middle name will return more moves. Be aware when making these changes, as it is common to have more than one occupant at an address with the same name. In these cases, try to include generational indicators like Senior/Sr and Junior/Jr when submitting your list to NCOALink.
Like all address cleansing procedures, NCOALink will not eliminate all return mail. Not all movers submit their move status to USPS, and the NCOALink data set doesn’t include information about temporary moves or other NIXIE data. To get more complete data, consider using additional processes such as Onecode ACS or non-USPS move databases like our ECOA service to get a more complete picture of the moves in your list.
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