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Four Tips to Clean Customer Data Lists, and Boost Direct Mail Results


By Allegra - Sandy Springs

Clean customer mailing data

Regardless of company size, direct marketers face the same challenges across-the-board when it comes to managing their customer data. Here are a few sobering statistics from Experian:

  • Nine of out 10 organizations suspect their customer and prospect data might be inaccurate in some way.
  • The three most common errors are incomplete, outdated or inaccurate information.
  • On average, companies with a less sophisticated approach to data quality think more of their annual revenue is wasted.

If you’re like most, you’re collecting customer data in multiple ways: at a physical location, in face-to-face client meetings, on your website or via marketing campaigns. This influx of information can get tangled up over time.

Then overlay this on the natural life events that occur among your customer base: On average, people change jobs every four-and-a-half years. And more than 35 million Americans and four million Canadians move annually.

Is it any surprise your data can quickly degrade if left unattended?

Direct mail success

It’s commonly accepted that up to 50% of a direct mail campaign’s success is dependent upon the list. Accurate mailing lists save time and money with less returned mail and lower mailing costs, plus they help ensure better campaign performance.

Here are four ways you can make a daunting data task a little more manageable to drive better results from your direct mail programs:

  1. Assign responsibility. About 20% of companies say spelling mistakes and typos are impacting their data quality, according to Experian. Consolidating responsibility for list management under one person should lead to improved accuracy and more consistent updates.
  2. Define standards. Another common error is data entered in the wrong fields. Set company standards for how customer information is logged, organized and regularly maintained, especially if you’re unable to assign one person to data management. Formatting standardization should ensure essential fields are filled, creating greater efficiencies, for example, when pulling segmented lists for targeted mailings across various personnel or departments.
  3. Schedule data hygiene. Best case, data should be cleansed before every mailing. Take the time to remove duplicate addresses, names or businesses – often a result of merging multiple lists. And suppress the records of customers who’ve requested no mail.
  4. Keep a back-up file. When you work with a data file, retain the original version. If something goes wrong, you can simply delete the corrupt file and replace it with the untouched one. It’s also a good habit to compare your final data against the original to ensure updates processed correctly.

Bonus tip: Call in the experts. With manual processes in place, human error is the most common cause of contact data inaccuracies. Ask our mailing pros to run your mail file through National Change of Address (NCOA) to validate and update addresses. We can also use other standardization software to ensure better mail-ability and reduce costs.

Need help managing customer data lists or sourcing prospect data? Let us know; we can help!