Subscribe to Entrepreneur for $5

Two Essential Direct Mail Reports That Will Save You Thousands

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

In his book The Direct Mail Solution, direct marketing expert and entrepreneur Craig Simpson provides easy-to-follow solutions for creating direct mail campaigns that work! In this edited excerpt, the author describes the reports you can get from your data processing company that will help you save money on your mailings.


If you use a data processing company to help you clean up your mailing list, make sure to ask for the reports from the process. You'll be able to use these to get discounts on your rented lists.

An interaction report, or a match analysis report, shows what occurred in the cleanup process, also known as the merge purge. It will show you how lists duplicated with one another, how your suppression file (the list of names you want removed) duplicated with the rented lists, and how other suppression files affected the merge. Not all data-processing companies offer an interaction report. If your current data processing company doesn't offer one, find another company that does. It may call these reports by another name, so ask questions.

To start with, take a look at the suppression files on the interaction/match analysis report. If your customer suppression file has matches/duplicates between the two lists, this means you sent a file of names that you already had in your database and asked to have these names suppressed/removed from the rented lists. The bottom line is, you don't want to spend money mailing to names you already have in your database.

The deceased suppression file is a file of the deceased. For obvious reasons, you don't want to mail to the deceased. You'll also get a prison suppression file. Most companies don't want to waste money mailing to someone who's in prison and probably doesn't want or can't buy their product.

#insert related here#

Analyzing the interaction report will help you get deductions on your list rental invoices because most list owners will give you a deduction for the unusable names. Plus, because you're eliminating unwanted names, you're also saving on printing and postage.

Broker Report

In addition to the interaction report, you should provide the list broker with a "broker report" that's generated by the data processing company. A broker report shows the list broker how many names you get to deduct because of bad addresses, bad ZIP codes, etc. It also reports some of the same information that's in the interaction report. Using the two reports together will allow you to claim the most deductions available to you. You can get a copy of this broker report, along with a few others, at

It's best if you work with your data-processing company to create a broker report to your specifications. Use the sample broker report referenced in the preceding paragraph as a starting point. Here's what each column represents:

  • Quantity Expected: The quantity of names you expected to receive from the list broker.
  • Quantity Received: The actual quantity of names the list broker sent.
  • Convert Drops: Invalid addresses. The address could be missing the city or state name or have the incorrect state and ZIP code for a record. Basically, it involves incomplete data.
  • M/P Input: The quantity input in the merge purge.
  • ZIP Drops: Records that were dropped due to special drops in the merge, such as omitting addresses that are located in a region where a hurricane just hit or where the Postal Service is unable to deliver mail.
  • Non-Coded Drops: These are records that don't have the ZIP+4.
  • Pander Drop: Takes out all names that are on the DMA Preference File (Do Not Mail List). All mailers are encouraged to use this list, and companies who are a member of the Direct Marketing Association are required to use this list. There is no use mailing to people who don't want to be mailed to.
  • Deceased Drops: Takes out names of those who are deceased.
  • Intra Dupes: Duplicate records within the same file.
  • M/P Output: The net names you're left with after the merge purge.
  • Broker Deductions: These are the names you get credit for from your list broker. You don't have to pay for names with bad addresses, intra dupes, etc.
  • Broker Net: This is number of names your list broker should bill you for on the list invoices.

The broker report should be used in conjunction with the interaction report. The two reports will help you get the most deductions from your list broker.

Craig Simpson

Written By

Craig Simpson has managed thousands of direct mail campaigns and grossed hundreds of millions in revenue for his clients over the past 15 years. Simpson is the owner of Simpson Direct Inc., a Grants Pass, Oregon-based direct marketing firm, and a respected speaker/presenter on the topic of direct mail. He is the co-author with Dan S. Kennedy of The Direct Mail Solution. He blogs at