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Beginner’s Guide to Data

Written by Dana Fowler Internal Marketing Coordinator

If you’re new to data (or you’ve got a lot of data that needs a lot of help), here are two basic checklists to help you get your data in shape for better marketing results and a lot less wasted postage fees! Discover what to do and what not to do with your data in our Beginner’s Guide to Data. 

What To Do

  1. The way you set up your database and the maintenance of the accuracy of that data is the foundation of any excellent marketing effort.
  2. If your data (or databases) aren’t perfect, you can work with that.
    1. Files can be formatted to create uniform data, match records and reveal bad data which can include multiple addresses, incorrect names, mismatched fields, etc. 
    2. Bad or multiple addresses can be updated to the most recent address. 
    3. Deceased records can be easily culled
    4. Records are required to be run through National Change of Address (NCOA) for regular updates to correct the addresses of people already in your database that have moved. 
    5. Demographic data can be added to existing contacts to make your marketing more relevant 
    6. Contacts without emails or IP addresses (for online, in-home advertising can be addressed) can be added. 
  3. Always start with the end in mind. Collect data that will help you market better and can be used later to segment marketing messages.

What Not To Do

  1. Do not mail multiple of the same documents to the same address. It makes everyone look bad! If you have trouble cross-referencing multiple databases to clean up the list, get professional help.
  2. Update your list for deceased records. There is nothing worse than sending mail to someone who has been gone a while — not to mention the effect on the family and your reputation.
  3. Not updating NCOA is a rookie mistake. 75 million Americans move every year. What are the odds you’re wasting money on postage — not to mention losing valuable prospects — if you don’t update?
  4. Returned Mail (Mail you pay the USPS to receive as return to sender) is usually treated as dead and data managers remove that address from the list. However, if you compare the price of updating your records with an NCOA run vs. the price of acquiring new prospects, you’ll find the NCOA is often a much better investment.
  5. Not seeding your mailing with the names and addresses of insiders (like yourself and your marketing team) is a pennywise and pound foolish move. Always seed your list for better insight.

If any of these strategies are outside your scope or you just need more information, contact us at to get started today!


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