Geocoding vs EDDM

by Pete Mazzocchi

Which system is right for your organization?

Organizations that employ a direct mail strategy in their marketing are faced with a large number of options. They can perform functions in-house or outsource them to a service provider, they can purchase mailing lists or develop their own. Mailers can employ a variety of different software packages on a umber of platforms, and they have the option to use several options provided by the USPS. One interesting comparison is the use of a rooftop geocoding package versus the USPS Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) service.

EDDM allows a mailer to send a piece of mail to every address in a particular Zip Code without using addresses. So let’s say, as an example, that you owned a pizza restaurant in a small town that was situated in the middle of its Zip Code. You could print an advertisement, or print your menus, and send them to everyone in that Zip Code without having to purchase or create a mailing list. The mail will go to every address in that Zip Code, but it will be sent to the address, not to the resident of the address.

Rooftop geocoding is similar, but it uses map coordinates to determine which addresses receive a piece of direct mail. As an example, let’s look at a political mailing to the 8th Congressional district in Maryland, an area that covers three counties and a number of zip codes as shown in the map below. As you can see, while District 8 has a number of complete zip codes within its boundaries, there are a number of zip codes that are only partially within the district. So if you were doing a mailing to the district and tried to use EDDM to deliver your piece you would be sending a large amount of mail to addresses to whom the mail did not apply. In addition, it’s likely that each zip code does not have a 100% voter registration rate so any mail that went to an unregistered voter would be a waste of money.

A more efficient way of doing this mailing would be to develop a list of registered voters, run the list through an NCOALINK process (to remove any voters who have moved out of the district, and then further winnow the list to the actual boundaries of the district using rooftop geocoding software. This would ensure that your direct mail piece reaches registered voters in the proper district, without wasting money sending the piece to unregistered residents or people outside the district.

While you could use EDDM for the political mailing, you would be wasting money on printing and postage by sending the mailing to people who wouldn’t be interested. Likewise, you could also use the more intricate procedure for the pizza parlor example, but again you would be wasting money on generating and processing an address list when there was a simpler and less expensive way to conduct the mailing.

The USPS gives direct mail marketers a variety of tools to use in delivering their mail, but it’s important for anyone who uses direct mail to have a knowledge of the appropriate tools and techniques for any particular situation.