How to Dedupe and Clean Your Mailing Lists

How to Dedupe Your Lists

Say Goodbye to Duplicates and Hello to Increased Campaign Success

As marketers, we do everything we can to streamline our campaigns to run as smoothly and efficiently as possible. In the never-ending quest for peak performance, one of the most consistent frustrations we deal with is data quality.

We all know bad data is frustrating to deal with, but beyond that, the reality is that bad data represents wasted effort, and wasted effort represents a loss of money.

We have access to a ridiculous amount of data, and in many ways, that’s a good thing — more data translates to more targets, a better understanding of those targets, and more avenues by which we can interact with them.

The problem is that all data is not created equal. In addition to generally corrupt data, duplicate data is prevalent, including name and address, household, and family (if multiple families live at the same address). 

So, how do we ensure that in a world of abundance, we’re separating the wheat from the chaff?

Step 1: Educate Yourself with Regulative Processes

It’s worth doing some exploring and familiarizing yourself with postal address regulations and how they affect your deliverability rates. Luckily there are numerous services and mail management software that can help you through this.

For example, Coding Accuracy Support System (CASS) is a USPS developed software that ensures mailing addresses are complete and accurate. In other words, it determines if an address actually exists. CASS also standardizes an address into a format the USPS prefers, which is an invaluable tool for creating easily comparable data points when checking for duplicates.

Another great resource is the National Change of Address (NCOA) registry. The NCOA is a dataset of permanent address changes filed by individuals, families and businesses, and can be important for weeding out which address to keep — and which to toss — in your datasets containing multiple addresses for the same customer.

Step 2: Double Check Mail List Data for Common Errors — By Hand

While it’s easy to be lulled into the convenient trap of relying too heavily on software solutions, it’s important to comb through your data — yes, manually — for common errors. Even the most advanced mail management software still requires human interaction and understanding for optimal outcomes.

How? It’s not uncommon for things like commas, missing spaces, or data simply entered in the wrong field to throw CASS off. Simple mistakes can cost you big when it comes to getting rid of duplicate data sets.

Once you’ve used software to get your data into a great starting point, it’s important to remember that that’s all it is — a great starting point. It’s up to you to do the manual work and ensure the data is uncorrupted beyond that.

Step 3: Remove Excess Info from Your Files

Since we’re solely talking about mailing, it’s important to remove as many variables as you can from your mailing lists, and that means dumping the excess information.

This excess information includes things like email addresses, phone numbers, revenue, years in business, etc., all of which aren’t pertinent to your direct mail vendor.

In short, avoid the clutter and dump the details for your mailings. Keep it simple and save that info for later.

Step 4: Choose Your Direct Mail Vendor Carefully

Much like data sets, not all vendors are created equal, and some will prove to be nightmares to work with. This speaks for itself. You want to consider attributes like experience, referrals, and knowledge of the postal regulations.

A good tip? Make sure you’re working with a vendor who proactively takes initiative when it comes to cleaning lists.

Step 5: Enjoy A Job Well Done

Cleaning and getting rid of the duplicates in your mailing list can be a process, but one that is well worth the effort. When it comes to direct mail campaigns, remember: the better the data you put in, the better the data you get out.

Need a hand with your direct mail marketing? We have the knowledge and experience to help you every step of the way. Contact us to see how we can help you design and execute and effective direct mail program.

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