optimize your address database for better direct mail results

Posted by Bruce Sanderson on Sep 20, 2016 3:30:40 PM

Did you know that 11% of individuals, families, and businesses relocate every year? With that in mind, your address data base should be treated like updatable content and not static lists.

The address data base is the backbone of variable data printing (VDP). VDP utilizes the fields in the data set to personalize communications and increase the likelihood of engagement with the recipient. The success of this process is predicated, however, on the address data base being accurate and the intended recipient actually receiving the personalized piece. 

Here are 4 steps to improve the quality of your address data base:

Check Data As It Enters the System

The first line of defense for improving data and saving money is to employ a “data quality firewall” at the point-of-entry to immediately verify the accuracy of information as it comes in through shopping carts, Web forms, or calls into a call center. If a potential customer or data entry personnel submits invalid contact information, a real-time data verification solution can be applied to prevent bad data from entering the database in the first place. “Garbage in, garbage out” may be a cliché, but that doesn’t mean it is any less true. Verifying and correcting contact data at the point-of-entry will save time and money, and those benefits can’t be ignored. The end result is a cleaner, more accurate database of customers and prospects – one that will fuel better response rates, enhance analytics, and improve customer satisfaction.

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Fill In the Gaps– Add Missing Data

It’s not always easy to ensure a value for every field at the time a record is generated. For instance, if the contact source is a list of attendees with only contact names, job titles, and phone numbers, it has very little value if the plan is an email campaign or direct mail follow up. These gaps in data can adversely affect lead generation and revenue potential – and prevent gaining a holistic view of the customer. A periodic data append effort can add missing information to records including verified street addresses, email addresses, phone numbers, names, and other key demographics – helping make every record as complete as possible.

Eliminate Duplicate Records

An estimated 10 percent of contact records in an average database are duplicate records. Identifying duplicates and merge/purging them are critical components to improving data. But it’s not as easy as it sounds. For example, a “Beth Smith” can be recorded as “Smith, Elizabeth” in another database – but the two entities are actually the same person. There are a number of software or technology-based deduplication services that can help weed out duplicates and merge multiple records into one “Golden Record,” for each customer – which helps gain valuable insight into customers to improve efforts.

Keep Records Up To Date

Every year, around 11 percent of individuals, families, and businesses relocate. As a result, data is ever- changing, leading to outdated, inaccurate information – a huge blow to the quality of the database. The key is to continuously update the database with change-of-address information. Look for a data quality service provider that has access to multi-sourced change-of-address records and can return the most current addresses of those who have moved. Move updating the contact data once every quarter is the ideal, but twice a year should be sufficient. (Unless mailing to that list and then it has to be updated 95 days before each mailing to qualify for postal discounts.)

All four steps should be done on a regular basis as part of a data cleansing and enhancement regimen to improve lead generation and customer satisfaction.

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Topics: direct mail