What Is Data Cleansing And How Vital Is It For Successful Direct Mail?

Article by Diana in - July 2018
data analyst working on data

The importance of including a data health check and data cleaning phase in your direct mail marketing plans cannot be overstated. Think about the last time you received direct mail that was addressed to someone else – often someone who moved out of your current home years ago and that neither you or your neighbours even remember. How did it make you feel about the sender?  This scenario happens when marketing specialists or direct mail companies don’t carry out due diligence with regard to the personal data that they’ve been asked to process.

To add insult to injury, not only does the practice of using ‘dirty data’ in your direct mail campaigns make you look unprofessional and unfocused, it also drains your resources, time, and attention, potentially leading to the loss of customers who will not receive the mail intended for them and to the annoyance of the current householder. Data cleansing is a blend of data analysis processes that help you fix critical issues in your data and enhance its value through segmentation and insights.

To avoid the issues we’ve described, we strongly recommend outsourcing your direct mail activities to a direct mail agency with top industry experience in data cleaning and data services. The biggest challenges to maintaining accurate customer data are people moving houses – at a 10-year high record level, deaths – which in 2016 amounted to about 525 thousand people in the UK and name and address changes, which combined amount to about 1 million changes per year.

If you are still unconvinced by the risks of powering your campaigns with unclean data, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) might finally persuade you otherwise. This new regulation implemented in May is overseen and enforced by the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) and amongst other things, it requires companies to keep their customers’ personal data clean and up to date.

Luckily, here at Send DM, we offer a complete and fully integrated data cleansing and management service package, which includes four key stages: data health check, data cleaning, data preparation, and data management.

Data Health Check

The data health check we will perform on your database will tell us how accurate and up-to-date your data is and will highlight areas for improvement in its current state. Performing a health check is the first step towards delivering a better return on investment, customer engagement, and increased sales.

Data Cleaning

Because data inevitably decays over time, our data analysts will check your data, flagging any discrepancies, removing duplicates and cross-checking all the postal addresses provided against the Postal Address File (PAF). The General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) builds on the principles of the outgoing Data Protection Act and reinforces the requirement for properly documented data cleaning and data management processes. Under GDPR, unnecessary data must be removed and deleted.  In the event of a Subject Access Requests or Data Breach you will be required to make contact with the data subjects or the ICO in a limited timeframe – so accurate contact details are vital.

Data Preparation

Even after your data has been scrubbed clean, your data assets can still present challenges. Our data analysts can help answer all those challenges, from ensuring that addresses are formatted correctly and are machine readable to mail-sorting data so that your mailing can benefit from the most attractive postage rates.

Data Management

In addition to auditing, preparing and cleaning your data, we can enhance its value with administrative data management techniques. These could include demographic insights, key audience segmentation, sourcing targeted prospect data, running mailing tests and ROI calculations, and creating bespoke file handling systems. Your data is a valuable resource and that’s how we will treat it – ensuring safe, secure processing and using up to date data management techniques to enhance its value to your organisation.

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