Direct Selling: Get More Bang for Your Buck
The merge/purge process is one of the most important data processing functions a direct marketing business undertakes. It’s obvious with rising paper, postage and list costs that there’s never been a more important time to make sure you’re getting the most out of your merge/purge and list work.
The process of merge/purge—bringing all of the files together for a mailing or series of mailings and eliminating the duplicates between lists—is designed to create a marketing list that has as few duplicates and is as clean as possible. The merge/purge is necessary because so often mailers rely on similar lists to build their own housefiles, and frankly, to address internal hygiene issues that often plague direct marketing companies.
A food cataloger, for instance, might mail the customer files of Harry & David, Popcorn Factory, Wolferman’s and Swiss Colony. It would be reasonable to expect that the customer profile of these lists would be similar and, therefore, that there might be some duplication among these files. In addition, a housefile may contain duplicates as a result of existing customers getting new customer numbers with Web orders that create a false “new” customer. The merge/purge is meant to remove as many of these duplicates as possible, and provide a unique set of records for mailing.
Most small to mid-sized direct marketers, and many of the proverbial “big guys,” have their data processed by third-party service providers that specialize in the merge/purge process as well as other standard database and hygiene services, such as NCOA, LACS and DSF2 processing. Many of these third-party vendors also have access to large consumer and business databases that will allow you to enhance the value of your merge/purge and data work. Work with your service provider to apply the following five tips to get the most out of your merge/purge.