Best Practices Your Path to World-class Direct Marketing
6. Match against internal lists.
Don't delete housefile names, even if they ask you never to mail them again. You need to keep them to use as an internal suppression file for those instances when one of them makes a purchase from your company or signs up for your e-mail newsletter. (I'm not suggesting that you shouldn't mail them, but you need to flag their schizophrenia.) Keep the addresses of your fraud customers and match against them—no sense sending them more opportunities. Ask for e-mail addresses "in case there is a problem with your order." E-mail is the least expensive way to tickle people into reconfirming their information and keeping your data clean and up-to-date.
7. Match outside lists and databases.
Ask your list broker about co-op databases in which hundreds of marketers pool their active buyers. It's especially helpful in sifting through your old, inactive customers. They may not be buying from you, but they may be buying from someone—and you'll know they're not deceased.
If you rent a significant amount of names, you can create your own co-op database by flagging your house names that match outside lists. It's considered unethical to note on which outside lists your housefile names appear, but it is not unethical to simply note that your individual records match an outside list.
There are a number of lists available solely for the purpose of keeping your list clean. The U.S. Postal Service's National Change Of Address (NCOA) file helps you keep up with your customers on the move. The Direct Marketing Association offers a list of people who do not want to be mailed (Mail Preference Service). There also are co-op fraud lists. And some marketers suppress prison addresses.
8. Use your data!
Pristine data combined with endless analysis will not yield anything of value. The best way to keep your data up-to-date is to generate active response and purchases.