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Keeping Your Mailing List Clean

Managing data is one of the most important things to do when running a successful direct-to-consumer program.  Emails change, phone numbers change, addresses change – how do you keep up with it all?

Whenever I work with a new client, I always ask them how clean (they think) their list is – the response rarely varies – either they don’t know or they haven’t kept it updated.  Everyone wants to add people to their mailing list but if your current list isn’t maintained properly, your metrics will be off and you won’t be touching those customers who already are loyal to your brand.

mailUpdating physical addresses

I always recommend a physical mailing at least once a year to the mailing list – it can be an inexpensive postcard (with proper branding visible), offering a special, asking for email updates or simply to say hello.  Make sure you send it so that you receive any undeliverable mail back – these often include updated addresses where the forwarding period has expired.  It costs a little more but it will give you current addresses, so it is worth it in the long run.

Updating email addresses

Email delivery is contingent on the validity of the address and the willingness of the recipient to accept your emails.  Encourage your customers to add your marketing email to their approved list of senders for the best chance of delivery.  If an email does bounce, you should be using a system where you can identify those customers and then send them a postcard or give them a call to update their email address.  If you have a customer unsubscribe, you will need to prove to your email campaign provider that they really want back on the list, in accordance with CAN-SPAM law.  Keeping customers with valid emails on your list that may have not acted recently may skew your metrics a bit but there is also the chance that something will eventually catch their eye and they will re-engage.

Updating phone numbers

Implementing a telemarketing campaign will tell you very quickly how clean your phone list is – doing a campaign to your good customers twice a year is not only a good idea for sales but can keep information current.  Phone numbers seem to change less often than physical addresses or emails, so if you capture your customer’s phone number upon your first contact, it is a good way to keep in touch.

Keep in mind that every time a customer contacts you – via phone, email or in person, it is a good idea to double check their information.  Ask them to confirm not only their billing and shipping addresses but also email and phone numbers.  It will save you time and money in the long run and keep your list up-to-date.

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