The full text of the article is included with this post, but we do encourage you to check out the February 2012 issue of Direct Marketing News.
by Jeff Bisset
Numerous studies attribute roughly 40% of the success of a marketing campaign to the list. (The rest comes from the offer, worth 40%, and the creative at 20%.) So, what can you do to make your list better? Here's a quick check-list of ideas to consider:
Address Correction will ensure your address is correct, according to Canada Post who sets the standard for what's right and what’s not. But be aware; just because your address is correct doesn't mean the person you’re trying to reach is still there!
Mover Update (or NCOA for National Change of Address) will update your list for known movers. Approximately 20% of Canadians move each year, so unless you have some way to keep them current yourself, you should do mover updates regularly.
Duplicate Elimination is important to ensure you don’t annoy people and waste your budget on calling or mailing the same person twice (or worse, more than twice!). Be sure to think about how you define a "duplicate". For example, do you consider Don Pepin and Dana Pepin, at the same address, to be a duplicate?
Telephone Number Append is how you can add phone numbers to your list, or verify the numbers you have already. For campaigns that include a telephone component (which are the most successful campaigns, in our experience), the more numbers you have and the more accurate they are, the better you’ll perform.
Occupant Append is important when you want to maintain the address, but update the name with who currently lives there. Pool companies are an example of when this is used. The address is their target. The current resident is who they need to communicate with.
Gender Append helps you better personalize your message. Based on a first name, there are many cases when you can assign a gender (think Steve, Paul, Cathy, and Mary). Those that you can't (say Kim or Jamie) are flagged gender neutral.
Geo-code Append means to add latitude and longitude coordinates to the addresses on your list. This is how companies determine the closest store, dealer or service-center to a customer's location when you see it on a web site or on a mailer.
Deceased Suppression helps you avoid trying to contact someone who's no longer with us. Although actual death records aren't available in Canada, there are databases available that will help you reduce the risk of this happening.
Ethnicity Append can help you segment and target based on ethnic background. And since your customers and prospects rarely report their ethnicity, ethnic coding based on surname tables is an effective approach.
Demographic Enhancement provides many opportunities for improved targeting, segmentation and personalization. To remain privacy compliant, these data variables are typically modelled (or averaged) at the postal code level. So although you can't take them literally, they're an excellent indicator. There are hundreds of demographic data attributes available, but the most commonly used are: income, age, occupation, presence of children, own or rent, and segmentation code (e.g. Prizm or Mosaic segment).
Dwelling Value & Age is a useful enhancement when targeting offers that apply to the home (like windows and roofing). Since homes in a neighbourhood are typically built at the same time and are of similar value, this append data tends to be quite reliable.
When trying to improve your list, think about accuracy but also depth. Of course it's important to have correct data, but stopping there is often not enough. Adding data and enhancing your list helps you better understand your audience and better target your message. Together, the steps above will go a long way to ensuring your list is as good as it can be!
Jeff Bisset is the founder of Interact Direct and Cleanlist.ca, two of Canada's leading data cleaning, enhancement, and prospecting data companies. Jeff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org