Lists: Double Vision
Merging after a campaign is very similar to merging before. Whenever possible, capture the full contact name, email address, phone number and postal address for both completed sales and inquiries. Consider each as a full database activity. These responses may include a variety of data points such as a time stamp, general classification or categorization, a transaction amount, and an activity ID number. By merging each response with the output of your last merge/purge, you'll have access to a wealth of information.
Whether you are working through the merge/purge process weekly, monthly or a couple of times a year, the information learned need not be lost. For forward thinkers, using all of the above merge/purge strategies to build and maintain a private database may offer additional long-term insights. Not only can a private database provide a platform for evaluating list overlap and data quality, the number of new records per list can be calculated, response and sales data can be merged to produce accurate ROI calculations, and additional demographic or behavioral data may be appended.
Implementing a private database can also improve merge/purge efficiencies. Consider the possibilities if each merge weren't a one-off project. Files could be processed in real-time as they are received, eliminating the hurry-up-and-wait nature of merge/purges. Would you need to maintain separate internal customer, prospecting or other suppression lists? Probably not, because these could be maintained as part of the private database. And, reaching back to our opening scenario, coordination of upcoming mailers, email campaigns and telemarketing efforts is greatly simplified.
Do your research—this can't be emphasized enough. Make sure your merge/purge technology is up to the task. Take time to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each data source. Build a list prioritization and data retention plan. Carefully track and merge responses after each campaign. And, if a private database is in your future, look for the software interface, tools and back-end processing that best meet your long-term needs.