How often should you clean your mailing lists?

We all know we have an obligation to maintain clean and accurate mailing lists.

An accurate mailing list means more of your marketing messages will reach their intended audience, and you’ll experience less wastage in your marketing spend.

But if you’re registered under the UK Data Protection Act (and if you hold any personal data on customers or staff, you should be), then making sure your data is accurate is actually a legal obligation, as well as an ethical commitment to best practice.

The need to clean your mailing list is ever present. UK consumers and businesses are in a constant state of flux, and have more and more opportunities to decline receiving direct marketing messages through various suppression files.

For example over 60% of UK households and more than 55% of businesses have registered telephone numbers with the Telephone Preference Service, in order to block unwanted sales calls. Around 3 out 5 unchecked sales or marketing phone calls to consumers or businesses will now be to a TPS or CTPS registered number.

The consumer environment in particular is constantly on the move, as people move house and leave home. In the UK 3,200,000 people move house every year – up to 7,000 every day. Approximately 11% of addresses are mailed incorrectly each year. Plus the latest official figures show that there were 499,331 deaths registered in 2012 in England and Wales alone – it is both unethical and costly to continue mailing the deceased with your marketing messages.

So what do you need to check for, and how often should you do it? Here’s a guide to managing your data cleansing cycle, based on best practice guidelines issued by the UK’s Direct Marketing Association:

  • Your list of business or consumer addresses should be checked against the Mailing Preference Service (MPS) no more than 90 days before the list is used. If you use your list on an ongoing basis, then you need to check against the MPS every quarter to ensure you meet these obligations.
  • Your lists of business or consumer telephone numbers must be checked against the relevant Telephone Preference Service (TPS) for consumers or Corporate Telephone Preference Service (CTPS) for businesses, before you or your telemarketing agency lift the receiver to make a call. Both the TPS and CTPS registers are being constantly updated, so your list should be screened no more than 28 days before it is called. If you have a telesales team calling all the time, then you need to check your list against the TPS or CTPS at least monthly.
  • Although it is a specialist sector, if you are planning a consumer mailing to promote any product or service related to babies, then it has to have been cleaned against the Baby Mailing Preference Service (BMPS) file before use. The BMPS file gives bereaved parents the option to have baby/infant related mailings suppressed for 12 months.
  • Whilst we are discussing timings, you should also respond promptly to a request from a customer to access their details. Under data protection legislation, all information held has to be provided within a maximum of 40 days from being asked in writing. If it is appropriate, you can charge a maximum fee of 10 to provide data, but many organisations waive the fee as part of their commitment to customer service.

Keeping your data clean and up to date makes good business sense as well. An accurate mailing list helps your direct marketing become more cost effective, avoids waste and saves money. It also helps reduces potential annoyance amongst recipients caused by duplicated mailers, or incorrectly spelt names.

Follow these simple guidelines, to ensure a fully compliant and effective data cleansing cycle is put in place for your business and consumer marketing lists.

To help you achieve this, Selectabase offers data enhancement & cleansing.

Simply visit Data Cleaning Enhancement Services.