Physical mail remains the most popular method for sending invoices and other business-critical information. Business managers like physical mail because it provides security and confidence that individual pieces will be read by the intended recipients. That confidence rests on one very crucial factor: the accuracy of the database. As soon as the first piece of mail returns as undeliverable, the sender begins incurring soft- and hard-dollar costs such as time, labor, postage, printing and paper that hit the bottom line.
Most companies believe their databases contain accurate information. Undoubtedly, some of the information is accurate; unavoidably, some is not. How much inaccuracy is too much for you? There are several options you can employ to assess the quality of your database and to identify key actions you must take to improve data collection and maintenance.
HOW ACCURATE DOES YOUR DATA NEED TO BE?
The first step you need to take is to consider your database. Is it accurate enough for your business needs? How many duplicate records are acceptable? How much does returned mail cost you? Do you know how much of your mail is undeliverable?
So, how do you rate the accuracy and quality of your database? Quality refers to the integrity of the list. Are data in the correct fields? Are fields completely filled out? Accuracy assessments typically measure the probable deliverability rate of your mail. Is it 100 percent deliverable? Ninety percent? Eighty percent? It can be fairly quick and easy to find out. Companies that offer address management software can provide you with an assessment.
If a prospect database is 92-95 percent accurate — the industry standard — you probably don’t worry because your experience has prepared you to accept the fact that a small percentage of bad addresses will infiltrate any non-customer list.
On the other hand, you might expect that your customer list delivers as close to 100 percent as possible. Attaining 100 percent deliverability is challenging, however, because people and businesses change addresses frequently. Realistically, you should expect 98-99 percent deliverability.
AVOID BUSINESS RISKS
An inaccurate customer database puts your business relationships, investments and revenue flow at risk. Consider these nightmares.
- You send an order to your customer but it is delivered to the wrong person. The order is returned (not lost or stolen for the sake of this scenario). You resend it. Now you’re delivering the order late. The very real expectation as well as the implied trust you’ve established start to diminish. That customer can, and often will, take his business to a competitor.
- A number of invoices you sent have been returned. You re-mail them. This interruption delays your collection effort and affects your company’s finances.
IT CAN BE EASIER THAN YOU THINK
Managing your database should be a companywide endeavor. Larger companies may achieve better results by assigning a cross-departmental team to administer it.
Introducing a program to manage your database is easier than you might think, especially if you develop easy-to-follow-business rules and deploy software to help manage the accuracy of your addresses. Better deliverability means fewer lost or returned orders, packages and mail which leads to improved customer satisfaction, trust and loyalty.
There’s also an added incentive of saving money. Besides saving money on postage, paper, printing, time and labor, you’ll increase deliverability. Improved contact data quality reduces your debt ratio; people typically pay invoices only after receiving them. Even the small stuff adds up. Fewer address correction fees can save you as much as $10 per package, depending on the carrier.
Anyone responsible for sending business information through the mail stream understands the importance of database accuracy and quality to the success of reaching correct recipients, controlling costs, maintaining efficiencies and building trust with customers and prospects.
Vigilance is vital if you want your database to work for you and deliver a substantial return on your investment. Applying best practices with address correction software, instituting easy-to-follow business rules and establishing a team to maintain the database during its life cycle, are essential components for yielding high deliverability. Sirius Decisions estimates that “between 10 and 25 percent of B2B marketing databases contain critical errors.” Now you know exactly how to beat those percentages.
Contact MCC today to equip your organization with the needed Address Management Software to ensure you mail is being delivered to the right place every time!