4 Ways Operating on Auto Pilot is Weakening Your Performance

Often times we get caught up in focusing our attention on the next “big thing”? It’s human nature and completely justified as we continually search for that silver bullet or walk-off home run for our businesses. While searching for this next big thing, we often put other programs or processes on auto pilot, and sometimes that plan can fail. The intent of this blog is to challenge ourselves to review the processes in place, with regard to merge/purge, to make sure the basic best practice is still intact.

    1. De-duplication: Most service bureaus now have the ability to custom tailor household level detail down even further to the segment level. The three common levels are: individual, household (same address and surname) and address. Depending on the segment, type of address and/or source of address will dictate at what level each should be used. The instructions provided to the service bureau should be reviewed periodically to make sure that the level of deduplication is appropriate for your business. For instance if a portion of your segmentation is going to business addresses, you would want to dedupe at an individual level, rather than the household level, in order to not over suppress and miss contacting important customers.
    1. Merge Flagging: Under-utilization of merge flagging is one of the top missed opportunities we consistently identify, as covered in the prior article by John Lenser “Million Dollar Multis.” For starters, there are many different flags that should be used within the merge to identify names that should be and should not be mailed. Most important is multi flagging, which can be against the buyer file (known as Superdupes), against non-buyer or owned files, and between prospecting sources. The source of names coming in can and will determine to what level of multi permutation you should be creating. Other flags that can be used, depending on your business, are hits to NCOA (New Movers can be great segments), buyer hits to the pander file, business type or size, etc. By taking merge flagging off auto pilot, companies can uncover great strategic opportunities to unlock higher performing sources for postal and digital names alike.  We’re seeing strong results as a result of these changes.
    1. Address Hygiene: Many merge purge providers have a plethora of tools to use for address correction, suppression and hygiene. It’s important to understand and use each one of these tools appropriately and to understand the source of the data that is driving each. Some examples are:
      • Improper use of the DMA Pander file as a suppression against their existing house file and not only on the prospect lists.
        • Multiple times we have run across companies suppressing DMA Pander names from their existing buyer file, essentially suppression some of their best buyers.
      • Improper use of deceased and bereavement files, which often times can over suppress.
        • Many times we see a high suppression rate of deceased records coming from cooperative database models, which by the nature of the modeling process would not be accurate and would be over suppressing quality names.
      • Improper use of geographic suppressions such as APO/FPO, PR/VI, American Territories
      • Improper use of USPS deliverability codes in selection or suppression of mail records
  1. Prioritization: It’s important to prioritize each list segment and/or source in order to maximize any given mailing, including usage in digital campaign, in terms of performance and financial outlay. We all know that it is standard practice to put your buyers in at the top priority, followed by non-buyers or owned lists, followed by prospects. The source of names, however, will determine which best to prioritize within each one of these groups to isolate good and not-so-good names in order to optimize for revenue performance and cost savings.

While the merge/purge is foundational, it’s important to remember that not all merges are created equal and no one merge is perfect for all business types. Adjustments for nuances and so the intent of this writing is to motivate you to review your current practices to make sure you are taking full advantage of your merge and the technology that is available to us today. Make sure you’re not under-optimized by being on auto pilot while seeking the next shiny object!

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