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DQ Blog CRM Data Cleansing The Dangers of Bad Mailing Lists

The Dangers of Bad Mailing Lists

Martin Doyle February 21st, 2012 CRM Data Cleansing, Data Quality

Got a direct mail campaign coming up? The marketers have prepared an excellent mailing with an eye-catching design, a tempting offer, a powerful call to action and prominent contact details. Everything is lined up to handle the responses and the business is holding its breath for an onslaught of interest.

But even with all this in hand, bad list preparation can virtually kill the campaign, waste the marketing budget and cause lasting damage to the reputation of the business. A bad mailing list that hasn’t been checked by data cleansing software can even take you outside the law and result in costly fines.

Examples of the damage bad lists can do

These were all cited in a recent blog post by US writer and former employee of the Better Business Bureau, Holly Doering:

  • A widow receiving business mail for her husband who has been dead for over 10 years, while they gave up their business activities five years before that – no data cleansing solutions applied there.
  • Parents opening mail for deceased children suggesting they were invited onto a student exchange programme because they were academically gifted – no data scrubbing activity there.
  • A marketing agency receiving five copies of direct mail from the US postal service which had been sent to an old address from three years back – one sent to a former employee in her maiden name when she had been using her married name since her wedding 10 years ago – no address correction software used by a postal service!
  • Someone registered with the UK’s Mailing Preference Service who had to collect a package too large for his letterbox from his sorting office, and found it contained only a website address.

That last one could have cost some organisation dear. And the names of all the senders would have been talked about and written about as heartless organisations which are both ruthless and careless about how they get their business, i.e. companies to steer clear of.

Of course, it’s IT which will get the blame, because that’s where the responsibility for using data cleansing solutions will lie.

What Should be Done?

The answer is simple. The constant use of address verification software that cleanses duplicates, uses the Royal Mail’s Postcode Address File and cleans on suppression files like the DMA Mailing Preference Service and bereavement or gone away registers.


Written by Martin Doyle

Martin is CEO and founder of DQ Global, a Data Quality Software company based in the UK. With an engineering background, Martin previously ran a CRM Software business. He has gained a wealth of knowledge and experience over the years and has established himself as a Data Quality Improvement Evangelist and an industry expert.