Return to sender?

It is one of marketers’ biggest frustrations – direct mail that’s been returned to sender as the recipient has moved on. The process known as suppression – taking names off a mailing list – can seem like an expensive waste of time in a period when marketing spend is under the spotlight like never before. However, taking into account the long-term cost savings on direct mail, it is more worthwhile now than ever.

So when time and money is short, how do marketers know who has moved house? One efficient way is to use data, provided by Royal Mail, of those people who register for postal redirection services. The data is accurate, but restricted. Surprisingly, only around half of all house movers subscribe to the service, and useres can only access new addresses if they can match their records against the old one.

Another way of keeping track is simply to ask recipients themselves to keep you updated. This isn’t the most reliable method and even for important relationships, telling a company is a job that can easily be overlooked by consumers in the rush of moving.

Acxiom’s solution – InfoBase-X® Lifestyle Universe – can help identify who is currently resident at an address, which is the first stage in dealing with the housemovers problem. It uses information from Acxiom’s own surveys, as well as from third-party contributors, about the occupants of a particular address and compares it with a company’s existing information, enabling outdated details to be deleted.

Big financial and utility companies have a much clearer idea of who is living where, as consumers understand it is in their best interests to let these people know when they’re moving. Because of data protection laws, this information can’t be shared. However, there is an argument that it should be more freely available and if more companies knew about movers, it would help rather than hinder privacy and data protection.

Whatever option companies choose, it is now more important than ever to make sure direct marketing lists are in order, and that direct mail is reaching its intended recipients. Otherwise, your mailings will go unread and the money spent on it will be thrown away hitting an empty doormat.

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