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The Price You Pay for Bad Data

Written by Leslie Nienaber Content Manager

We all have certain things that really aggravate us. One thing that never fails to upset me is wastefulness, especially when it affects the environment. For example, my local grocery store double-bags everything I buy when I only have a short distance from my car to my house. This unnecessary use of so much plastic seemed wasteful, so I started bringing in more reusable bags.

Recently, this aspect of wastefulness has become more and more apparent (and aggravating) due to a particular direct mail piece that I have been receiving for the past month. The mail itself was from what appeared to be two different agents for a local branch of an insurance company. I received two letters, one addressed to my maiden name, and one addressed to my married name, from one agent. A week later, it happened again: two more letters, this time from a different agent. I chalked this all up to being some kind of fluke, but it happened yet again a few days ago.

This experience bothered me for several reasons. First, it was extremely wasteful – so far, I have received at least five letters from the same branch, and each of those printed letters ended up directly in my recycling bin. It was a complete waste of their time, postage, and paper. Second, it started to make me question the efficiency and reputation of this company. If they couldn’t even figure out who I was or how many times they had contacted me, how organized would they be if I chose them as my insurance agent? Third, it made me feel like they were desperate. This obviously wasn’t their intention but, with that many letters, it’s the feeling I ended up getting.

The last reason is probably the most important one for businesses, especially those who do a lot of direct mail, to take note of: the two agents from this company had bad data. This was indicated by the fact that they sent me two different letters because of a difference in my last name, as well as the fact that both of these agents probably did not have a clue that they were sending their mail at the same time each month. If they did, why didn’t they include their names on a single letter?

Proper data cleanup should be a top priority for any company sending out direct mail. A good cleanup would have spotted the error with my last name, and it would have also reduced the letters down to one single mailing instead of five. In not performing a data cleanup, this particular company spent four times more than they needed to on paper and postage, and the worst part is that I most certainly was not the only one who had this issue. How many people, I wonder, also received multiple letters that went straight into the trash?

The price a company pays when they do not clean their data can be a big one: it can impact not only their budget, but their reputation as well. It can turn a professional, one-time communication to a prospect into an embarrassing solicitation that feels desperate and unprepared.

Whether you are sending out your first direct mail campaign or your thousandth one, it is never a bad thing to stop and re-examine the quality of your data. Data services from C.TRAC Direct are a great way to start – they can save you money and keep your reputation intact. Contact us to get started! 

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