Go beyond the basics to improve database quality

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Pam Corbeille-Lepel, director of sales and marketing, Lorton Data
Pam Corbeille-Lepel, director of sales and marketing, Lorton Data

Most marketers know the importance of database quality in generating successful direct mail campaigns, and are familiar with the basic services involved in database hygiene – ZIP+4, delivery point validation (DPV), National Change of address software (NCOALink) and duplicate elimination, to name a few.

What may not be so familiar, however, is that greater value — in the forms of improved delivery rates and increased ROI — can be realized from these services if you go beyond the basics. Next time you process your database, be sure to take advantage of everything they offer.

ZIP+4 and DPV Marketers run their list through ZIP+4 software to standardize addresses, validate ZIP codes and add information, so they can barcode their mail. But how many actually take the time to look at the DPV codes that indicate the accuracy of the delivery address? Because your database is probably used for more than just mailings, you need to consider what to do with addresses flagged as potentially undeliverable. The first instinct would be to remove the name from the list. However, a “drop” solution isn't a one-size-fits-all remedy.

You will probably want to treat prospect records differently from regular customer records and high-value customer records. Where it's important enough to build a more accurate and complete address, services such as expanded address correction and apartment append are available.

NCOALink This offers information about people and businesses that have moved. Sometimes a new address is provided and other times it is not available. Prior to mailing, be sure to drop records where no new address is available. NCOALink processing includes ZIP+4 and DPV.

Duplicate elimination When removing duplicates, consider your criteria, because it can be critical to the success of your direct mail campaign. There may be times when it's appropriate to send one mailpiece per address, and other times each person should receive a mailpiece. Additionally, if there is information such as phone, e-mail, etc. in one record but not another, capture the information into a kept record.

Pam Corbeille-Lepel is director of sales and marketing, Lorton Data. Reach her at pamcl@lortondata.com.

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