Dying to Get Your Offer
Despite the economy, I still get a lot of mail these days.* So does my father. The problem is, my father passed away six months ago. His mail now comes to my house (and he gets many great offers). A few months ago, he even got a fundraising offer from the hospital where he died. That’s the definition of irony, right?
Don’t mailers know they're wasting money? Direct mail costs enough these days. So much so that it doesn’t make sense to mail someone who can be suppressed from a mailing list.
Reintroducing the Deceased Suppression File
Are you aware that there's something called a deceased file to suppress against? Most mailing houses and service bureaus can easily run your mailing list up against this file before you mail.
I was curious about how many multichannel marketers actually add this to their merge/purge processes before mailings, so I asked Gary Sierzchulski, senior account executive at the service bureau Donnelley Marketing, for his take:
“Our deceased file is compiled through information received from the Social Security Administration and is updated monthly. We see virtually all our clients use it on their housefiles once a year; some more often depending on their customers’ demographics. About half our clients use it within the merge itself against rental records.
“Because the deceased suppression is done at an individual level, we see that about a third of our clients still mail to households flagged as deceased, because other members of the household still purchase or the household is still active.”
When I asked Gary about the accuracy of the file, he stated that it's about 90 percent accurate and added the following: “Every once in a while we get a call from someone who says they're not dead. It's due to the misinformation sent to us from the S.S. Administration. That's why we now use another independent source to verify or provide us with additional names.
“Donnelley Marketing also uses a proprietary source for additional hits or verification of the data, and we’ve noticed incremental gains in counts.”
What struck me here is that half of Donnelley's clients use it within the merge/purge process. Of course this depends on mailing frequency, but if you're doing merges more than a month apart (depending on updating schedule), the additional cost of adding this suppression to the merge will be outweighed by the savings in printing and postage spent on people who have passed on. Make sense?
* The reason I added the asterisk above is simple: Now is a great time to mail. There's less clutter in the mailbox, and less clutter means less competition for your offer. Over the next few weeks, I'll delve into the economy and how it relates to some self-fulfilling prophecies surrounding the direct mail business.
Jim Gilbert is president of Gilbert Direct Marketing Inc., a full-service catalog, direct marketing and social media agency. His LinkedIn profile can be viewed at www.linkedin.com/in/jimwgilbert. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/gilbertdirect or read his blog at gilbertdirectmarketing.wordpress.com/.
Jim Gilbert has been creating direct marketing programs that drive superior ROI for almost 30 years. Fluent in consumer or B-to-B, creative, operations, and analytics, he marries the strategic and tactical sides of direct and social media marketing in a seamless fashion that gets results. He's CEO of a multidiscipline direct marketing agency, Gilbert Direct Marketing, Inc., which focuses on direct mail, catalogs, DRTV, telemarketing, print, alternative direct marketing media and social media marketing. Jim has been involved in start-ups, expansions and turnarounds, and is an expert in helping multichannel marketers get to the "next level." He's a former adjunct professor, teaching direct marketing at Miami International University, and is President of the Board of Directors of the Florida Direct Marketing Association. Jim loves to talk direct marketing, and has done many lectures on direct and social media marketing.