The Department 3 Blog

5 Gremlins Debasing Your Direct Marketing Database

June 1 2018, Michael Concannon

Direct Marketing Data Optimization

With 55% of adults checking their email first thing in the morning, direct mail achieving a 4.4% response rate, and mailboxes being checked on a daily basis by 98% of people, it’s incontrovertible: direct marketing works.

But as we’ve said, its success relies on one vital factor: the quality of your direct marketing database.

If your direct marketing efforts aren’t quite nailing the bullseye, optimizing your direct marketing database is the likely answer for maximizing campaign results. It’s time to clean house and deal with these five issues that afflict far too many databases.

#1 Bad, bad data

Old, redundant, false, incomplete, or misleading data can really jeopardize your direct marketing database. If you have old data mucking up your contact lists, there’s a good chance you’re experiencing a poor lead-to-close ratio. That means it’s time for a database refresh.

A few actions a direct marketer (or their data optimization department) can take to clean up bad data:

  • Compare addresses on file to National Change of Address list and update contacts.
  • Delete duplicate files of customers.
  • Compare your contacts to those in the Data & Marketing Association’s “do not mail” database and update accordingly.
  • Update or delete any contacts who you do not want to receive offers, like those now deceased or in prison.
  • Or bring in a team of data optimization experts<> to do all of the above, and more.

Knowing you’re tainted by bad data is a clear signal to clean up contacts, create more efficient processes for entering new information, and an opportunity to create a better system for dealing with record duplication.

#2 Lack of segmentation

Capturing a vast wealth of data is  great for your direct marketing efforts…but only if you’re segmenting it properly to serve your needs. Why? Segmentation allows for tailored messaging to prime audiences and helps target specific pain points, needs, wants, and priorities for groups of leads.

Direct Marketing Segmentation

Plus, segmentation helps build real, meaningful relationships with customers, as you can best serve their specific desires with specialized content and highly relevant offers, coupons, and deals.

According to MailChimp, segmented emails enjoy an open rate increase of 14.32%. Plus, click-through rates are 100.95% higher.

The four key characteristic sets usually employed to build a segmentation strategy:

  • Demographics are for individuals and include gender, age, race or ethnicity, marital status, income, education level, and location.
  • Psychographics relate to an individual’s personal choices: hobbies, interests, lifestyle choices, and political attitudes.
  • Firmographics are used to segment prospect organizations and include the Standard Industrial Classification, company size, and location.
  • Technographics are most often used by B2B marketers to analyze a company’s tech stack.

The trouble is, too many marketers still don’t do an adequate job of segmentation. In part, that’s due to the sheer amount of data they’re being handed, and the fact they use manual or outmoded segmentation techniques and technologies. To properly optimize a Direct Marketing database and deliver precise, actionable segmentation in the increasingly compressed timescales that make up modern marketing, a state-of-the-art optimization engine needs to be employed.

#3 Choosing quantity over quality

If a marketer use their direct marketing database and contact lists only to mine for phone numbers, emails, or physical mailing addresses, they’re missing out on an enormous opportunity to optimize their data and deliver the personalization that’s an absolute mandate from today’s digital audience.

Some telling stats? According to Marketo, 79% of consumers say they’re only likely to engage with an offer if it’s been personalized to reflect previous interactions they’ve had with the brand. Salesforce argues that by 2020, 51% of consumers will expect marketers to anticipate their needs and make relevant suggestions before any contact happens.

If you want to truly learn about potential customers, and improve your personalization prospects, start amplifying your data by defaulting to quality of data over sheer quantity.  Make certain that data inputs – whether via forms, user tracking, or other methods – are accurate and comprehensive enough to satisfy your goals. Also, of course, ensure whatever you do is GDPR compliant.

A great baseline question to help guide future qualitative data collection efforts?  Ask yourself exactly what kind of data would be necessary to open and grow a meaningful, personal conversation and dialogue with your customer, and lead to a deepened relationship that spans multiple channels?

Direct marketing database personalization

#4 Not tracking results

When was the last time you updated your direct marketing database with detailed information about precisely how your direct marketing campaigns are being received – or ignored – by target audiences? If you’re not regularly updating this kind of tracking data, you’ve drastically devalued the effectiveness of your database. Many marketers make the mistake of assuming a campaign is a success if there’s an uptick in sales or leads, when the reality may be very different than what’s seen at first glance.

A few action items you can follow to improve the tracking data you’re collecting?  

First, make sure every future direct marketing campaign you run has a unique phone number, URL, or coupon code to track the lead-to-sale conversion rate.

Then, as you begin to receive client information from these unique offers, make sure to monitor:

Database Tracking
  • What marketing tactics work best for each client
  • A lead’s response rate to different kinds of offers
  • A lead’s response rate to different types of messaging
  • Any sales made
  • If you’re doing online messaging, track the different response rates you see from laptops, desktop computers, tablets, or smartphones, what touchpoints they’re using, what day/time they’re opening messages, your CTRs, etc.

#5 Shoddy Personalization and Quality Control

The last major issue messing with your direct marketing database and campaign effectiveness? Poor personalization when it comes to important details, combined with a lack of data hygiene. Sloppy collection and cleansing of personal details leads to sloppy direct marketing, and an underwhelming experience for your target.

Over time, misspelled names or misaddressed mail lead to a serious loss of trust and respect from the people you’re aiming to engage. The result? You’ve dug a hole that makes any future Direct Marketing campaign an uphill struggle.

To make sure your data is both personalized and squeaky clean, be sure to verify things like…

  • Proper spelling of names
  • Proper capitalization of names
  • Proper intialing of nicknames (i.e. B.J. vs. BJ)
  • Correct job titles or household positions
  • Whether or not using “Or Current Resident” will offend your recipient
  • Choosing a warm default name, like “Dear Friend,” for empty name fields

Clean, optimized data is the most vital ingredient of direct marketing success.  The best solution for overcoming these gremlins and creating a database that’s reliable and accurate, so every campaign hits your conversion and revenue goals? Call on data optimization experts to guarantee you’ve got the cleanest, most actionable and ROI-driving direct marketing database possible.

Learn about Department 3 data optimization

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