Is Data Quality Your Responsibility?
When it comes to variable data, most printers just accept what they get from their customers. But should they attempt to improve on the data to increase campaign effectiveness? We think that is a good way to add value to the customer relationship. Simple data quality processes added to the workflow can make your client’s outbound communications more effective and add billable line items to your invoices.
Address standardization and move update processing are common steps you’re probably already taking to follow USPS regulations and qualify your mail for workshare discounts. But you could take this operation a few steps further by using Delivery Point Validation (DPV) to ensure that, besides bearing a valid address, the mail is actually deliverable. Or you could apply suppression lists to remove deceased or incarcerated individuals from the list. Actions like these will improve your client’s return on their investment in mail and encourage them to run future direct mail campaigns.
In a personalized multi-channel world, bad data affects more than just mail deliverability. You can make other adjustments to boost response and conversion rates for your clients’ marketing campaigns. Look beyond the logistics of getting documents printed and mailed and consider the objectives of each project. You will uncover opportunities to improve the quality of the client-supplied data that drives the variable content in printed and digital communications.
Are you creating campaigns that count on people visiting a physical store to generate the desired results? Try asking the client how far their customers typically travel to make a purchase. Compute the distance between prospect addresses and closest storelocations. Then filter out any prospects unlikely to make the trip. Or try adding variable maps showing routes to the nearest store from each prospect’s home.
In a sales letter, the salutation is the first thing a prospect sees. Get it wrong and the rest of the communication may not matter. Specialized software can assess the data and construct salutation lines for you to insert into printed or electronic messages. With this step you can avoid obvious errors and turn salutations like “Dear John Michael David Smith III” into “Dear Mr. Smith”.
Data files are full of records with improper casing. The problem has gotten worse as customers use mobile phones as data submission devices. People seem inclined to type everything in lower case! It is best to seek software specifically designed for this work. Crude attempts at case conversion, where software capitalizes only the first letter of each word, produces results like “John Mcdonald, Vp of Sales, Xyz Company”. Such clumsy attempts at case conversion foil efforts to make personal connections with prospects. The piece may get delivered, but what are the chances of producing the desired result?
Sometimes, identifying the message recipient’s gender can improve response rates. Good genderizing software will assign a gender to a record along with a confidence score. If the software can’t decide if a name is male or female the confidence score will be low. Create three versions of messages or offers, sending one version to men, another to women and a third version to undetermined sex. Each version will be designed to appeal to the targeted audience. With digital printing techniques you won’t even have to split the file to print variable data documents while maintaining the postal sort sequence.
As a print/mail service provider your client’s data quality isn’t your responsibility. But it is an opportunity to add value and create strong connections with your clients. Inspect the next data file your clients send to you and see if correcting or enhancing the data is the right move to help clients achieve their objectives for the project.
In 2001, Roger Gimbel founded Gimbel & Associates, an international consulting firm providing business and market development services, skills training, and expert public speaking in the graphic communications and digital solutions industry. The mission of Gimbel & Associates is to help clients identify new business opportunities and implement leading-edge solutions using expertise in organizational development, technology selection, implementation, and work processes.
Roger oversees a team of Consultants with expertise in sales training, workflow analysis, MicroModeling, multichannel marketing, marketing plans, transactional printing, trans-promotional applications and creative strategies for mergers and acquisitions, business development workshops and seminars.