Despite the economy, I still get a lot of mail these days.* And so does my father. The problem is, my father passed away six months ago. His mail now comes to my house, where he gets many great special offers, and a ton of fundraising mailers.
A few months ago, he even got a fundraising offer from the hospital where he passed. That’s the definition of irony, right? And while I miss my Dad terribly, as an accountant he was a frugal, count-your-pennies kind of person who would approved of this article.
Another kind of “do not mail” database:
Don’t mailers know they’re wasting money? Direct mail costs enough these days. So much so that it doesn’t make sense to mail someone who can be easily suppressed from a mailing list.
Introducing the Deceased Suppression File :
Are you aware that there’s something called a deceased file to suppress against? Most mailing houses and service bureaus can easily run your mailing list up against this file before you mail.
I was curious about how many direct and multichannel marketers actually add this to their merge/purge processes before mailings, so I asked Gary Sierzchulski, senior account executive at the service bureau Donnelley Marketing for his take:
“Our deceased file is compiled through information received from the Social Security Administration and is updated monthly. We see virtually all our clients use it on their housefiles once a year; some more often depending on their customers’ demographics. About half our clients use it within the merge itself against rental records.
“Because the deceased suppression is done at an individual level, we see that about a third of our clients still mail to households flagged as deceased, because other members of the household still purchase or the household is still active.”
When I asked Gary about the accuracy of the file, he stated that it’s about 90 percent accurate and added the following: “Every once in the while we get a call from someone who says they’re not dead. It’s due to the misinformation sent to us from the S.S. Administration. That’s why we now use another independent source to verify or provide us with additional names.”
“Donnelley Marketing also uses a proprietary source for additional hits or verification of the data, and we’ve noticed incremental gains in counts.”
What struck me here is that only half of Donnelley’s clients use it within the merge/purge process. Of course this depends on mailing frequency, but if you’re doing merges more than a month apart (depending on updating schedule), the additional cost of adding this suppression to the merge will be outweighed by the savings in printing and postage spent on people who have passed on. Make sense?
* The reason I added the asterisk above is simple: Now is a great time to mail. There’s less clutter in the mailbox, and less clutter means less competition for your offer. Over the next few weeks, I’ll delve into the economy and how it relates to some self-fulfilling prophecies surrounding the direct mail business.
Please note: your comments, criticisms, kudo’s always appreciated. And if you disagree, please call me out, start a duel if you want. Go ahead. Comment away…