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The Impact of Data Quality on Your Direct Mail

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Some things are – sadly – a fact of life. Less than a third of people floss their teeth every day. The average US household has over $16,000 in credit card debt.  And according to the United States Postal Service, undeliverable mail costs businesses roughly $20 billion every year.

Ironically, the quality of your contact data is far and away the most easily fixed of these three things. We can’t stop people from using credits cards, and we can’t make flossing your teeth more fun. But we can easily and inexpensively automate the quality of your mailings – and in the process, save you from some very real and tangible costs.

Let’s look at some of the real costs of poor data quality for direct mail:

Time. Direct mailing remains a labor-intensive process, where sorted physical pieces of mail are prepared for delivery. And when some of these are addressed to an out-of-date lead who has moved – or someone gave you a fake name and address, like Bugs Bunny in Rabbitville, Wisconsin – you are wasting human effort at each step of the life cycle of the process, from mail preparation to updating undeliverable addresses in your database.

Money. If bad contact data isn’t enough of a problem, according to Biznology over 70% of it changes every year as people move, change jobs, or get new contact information. Multiply this across the sunk costs of a direct mail campaign, from printing to postage to manpower, and you are looking at a substantial drain on your marketing budget.

Conservation. Is your company “green”? Not if you aren’t strategically addressing your data quality. The USPS alone estimates that it handles over 6 billion pieces of undeliverable mail annually. Multiply this by the impact on trees, energy use, water and landfill space, and you have a huge and largely preventable impact on our environmental waste stream.

Customer Satisfaction. The impact of data quality gets even worse when you don’t deliver what you promised, and your customer reputation takes a hit. Add in the costs of inventory loss, re-shipping, and bad publicity on channels such as social media, and you risk a loss of customer good will, repeat business and market share.

Missed Market Opportunities. They call them leads for a reason – and if your lead is sitting in a landfill somewhere because of bad contact data, they become the customer that never happened. And then the actual costs of this bad data get compounded by the loss of potential future business.

The worst thing about each of these costs is that they are all completely preventable. Real-time contact data validation is an easy, inexpensive capability that can be built right into your applications, or used directly on your lists via the Web. Once in place, they leverage the power of continually updated contact databases from the USPS and others, and you reap the financial benefits of good data quality forever after. It is truly a situation where an ounce of prevention is worth much more than a pound of cure.

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