Clean Your Database
To be sure, it’s not an easy task. As Stevens says, “E-mail addresses must be cleaned ‘by hand’ using, the ones that bounce and trying to reach customers to get correct e-mail addresses.”
Grossman says, “E-mails are especially problematic, because customers tend to change e-mail addresses frequently and to have several e-mail addresses. Some files can’t handle multiple addresses, so you’re forced to decide which address gets priority.”
More Complex Cleansing
• Ask for help. The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) and/or your computer house may have tools that can help you clean your names and addresses. Moreover, some solutions are designed especially for either consumer or b-to-b databases.
Says Kapochunas: “Today’s cutting-edge business address maintenance is a multi-step process requiring a combination of outsourced USPS processes and outsourced global address cleansing, followed by referential matching to a global business file.”
• Consider outsourcing. Kapochunas recommends outsourcing this critical activity to experts, because the process has become complex, the databases ever-larger, and many of the manual, outdated ways of list cleaning are more difficult when paired with missing or non-standard data.
• If you’re operating on a modest budget, use your promotions to help clean and maintain your customer list. For example, if you’re a b-to-b cataloger, send a list of names and addresses to your customers’ corporate mailrooms and ask the mailroom supervisors to send back corrected lists. Tip: Offer some type of incentive for their help.
This technique also works for e-mail, if you have e-mail addresses and permission.
• Another effective way to clean a b-to-b list is to use title addresses to capture names of people who’ve changed jobs. For example, the name of the vice president of finance may have changed, but it’s a good bet there’s still a vice president of finance. Just title address your mail and print a request on the label to forward the mail to the right person. You even can try a format as simple and inexpensive as a postcard.