How to Maintain Your Housefile
Once you have this information, segment your buyers by RFM (recency, frequency and monetary) value, critical data for both simple and large-scale marketing campaigns. After a while, you may want to put more information onto your housefile, such as phone/fax numbers, e-mail addresses, customer’s gender and age, categories of products purchased, and other demographic or purchase information.
Before adding collected data to your housefile, perform CASS Certified Address Standardization, which is the process of comparing your customer records to a U.S. Postal Service (USPS) database containing all deliverable addresses and restructuring them to be in the most accurate and deliverable format possible. This improves your ability to identify duplicates, increases deliverability, and allows you to apply for valuable postage discounts.
All new transaction records being added to your housefile should be CASS-certified. Indeed, your entire housefile should be periodically CASS-certified, too, because ZIP codes and related addressing information constantly are updated by the USPS. Performing address hygiene will help keep your file up-to-date and eligible for continued postal discounts.
Your list also should be processed through change-of-address software several times a year. The most common of these is the USPS National Change of Address (NCOA) program, which is a service that allows you to match your name and address file against a large database compiled by the Post Office. It contains all individuals or families that have moved in the last 36 months. In addition to getting correct addresses for your customers, this prevents maintaining the same customer at two different addresses.
Successful list maintenance initiatives ensure that you have a methodology in place to properly identify duplicate customer records. In many instances, when customers first purchase from a catalog, they’re assigned unique identification or account numbers, which can be used when accessing a customer’s account. When a customer makes a repeat purchase, access the same record. Don’t assign a new customer number to a previous purchaser, as that could result in file duplicates causing several problems, including unintentionally sending multiple mail pieces to a customer and/or being unable to get a true snapshot of a consolidated customer profile.