Clean data helps mail reach its target

The quality of contact data is vital to any direct marketing effort. Marketers are masters at developing catchy, well-positioned campaign messages. But if that message never reaches the intended recipient, then the effort is wasted. Returned pieces or undelivered emails not only signal a missed opportunity, but will ultimately hurt the ROI and response rate of your campaigns.

Most of us expect a certain amount of bounce back when sending an email or direct marketing campaign. However, we tend to underestimate the effect that even a 5% return mail rate has on the success of a promotion. In order to better set response rate expectations, marketers should develop a better understanding of the quality of their data.

One easy way to check data quality is to review the percentage of mail returned on past campaigns. Take a little time to review the bounce back rate of an email campaign or to count returned direct mail pieces. This way, you will determine the return rate for the campaign as well as true response rate and better set expectations for future campaigns. And don’t forget to ensure this information is noted and corrected in your database.

Another thing that helps is running contact lists through a verification tool. This will allow you to pull invalid information out of a distribution list to prevent wasted efforts or to correct them prior to mailing. Even if your database is cleaned periodically, verification prior to your campaign launch will further improve your results.

Take time to look at the data to spot trends. Is bad data entering the database from a particular source, such as your call center or Web site? Do you consistently see certain types of incorrect information, such as incorrect formatting on an e-mail address or a missing ZIP code in a mailing address? Asking these types of questions will allow marketers to work with IT or list vendors to put safe guards in place that prevent incorrect contact data from entering your marketing lists.

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