It’s all in the Database: List Maintenance Best Practices


A direct mail campaign is a great way to get your message across to a large number of people and businesses in a particular area. However, even with the best graphic design and a message that is timely and on point, if you’re not paying attention to maintaining your database of contacts, you might be spending money on marketing that will never be seen. Here are a few essential tips to keep your direct mail database up to date.

Addressed versus Unaddressed Direct Mail

The first thing you need to decide is whether your direct mail campaign is going to be an addressed, personalized piece or a general, unaddressed piece. In the case of the former, the tips that follow will apply. In the case of the latter, it is more important to track results.

If you are sending out unaddressed direct mail campaigns, then the most important maintenance you need to perform on your database is to track and record the results you get from various areas where your direct mail printed materials are delivered. Consider using split testing and delivering slightly different offers to different parts of your city, to see which message and format works best.

Personalized Direct Mail Pieces

If you are sending out personalized, addressed direct mail pieces to your customer base, then there are several other things you should do regularly to maintain your customer database. As an added bonus, these tasks will assist in other areas of your business too, like sales and email marketing campaigns.

  • Keep your main list simple. Individual members of your sales team will probably retain more detailed information on their clients, but your main list should be the basics: company name, contact name, position, and basic contact information.
  • Database updates should happen at least once a year in general, and every time you are informed of any change to a company name, contact or related information.
  • Check the spelling and format of the company name and the contact person. There is nothing less effective than sending addressed mail with the name spelled incorrectly!
  • Check for duplicate contacts. You do not want to waste time and money sending the same communication to two people. Not only are you paying double, but will also look as though you do not know what is going on at their company, and that will overshadow your message completely. If you have more than one contact for a company, contact them and ask which person is the best point of contact.
  • Check whether the contact person you are dealing with still works there, and if not, who their replacement is.

Other best practices for data base management include using a CRM or database software rather than Excel (which can auto format data incorrectly), restricting access to the database to authorized personnel only, and ensure that there are minimal blank fields in your list. If it is important enough to be a field, it is important enough to make sure it has filled out.

Proper database management can be crucial to direct mail success, and in many other areas of your business. Make sure that you take the time and make this a regular priority.

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