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Information collected on your website is far more likely to be inaccurate or go out of date quickly, so how can you keep it up to date as easily possible? The Easycheck desktop application from Selectabase helps you clean the address and telephone data you've collected online.

Most websites will collect some form of address data. For example e-commerce websites require invoice and delivery addresses, while b2b brochure sites collect details of enquiries.

If your website collects data on enquiries and customers, then what measures do you have in place to check and maintain accuracy? Web forms have an inbuilt potential for user error or misuse which can lead to inaccurate data in your database.

Then when you come to mail your website database, or follow up by telephone, you run the risk of costly gone aways or low responses due to inaccurate data, or you could even be reported for breaching privacy laws.

Implementing an online address verification process in your website to resolve this issue can be costly, complex and prove more time consuming for your website users to use. Plus it won't tell you who has registered with the latest 'do not call' services.

The simplest method is to collect your data online, export your names and addresses into a file and check it regularly on your PC desktop using the Easycheck data cleansing application before you contact anyone.

Easycheck can check your data for address accuracy as well screen data against the very latest Mailing Preference Service (MPS) or Telephone Preference Service (TPS) lists of people or businesses who don't want to be contacted.

If you just want to check phone numbers of businesses or individuals before you call them, then an even simpler method is to check them individually online with a subscription to TPS Check.

In his recent book ‘Adapt’ the economist Tim Harford suggests that solutions to complex issues can only be identified if you are willing to risk failure.

Harford believes that success almost always follows a failure, so it’s better to fail early and fail small first, to avoid greater risk and safeguard growth.

Direct marketing offers a great example of this principle in action - learn from the results of small scale failures, adapt and then move forward.

Before mailing your newly purchased mailing list of 50,000 recipients test your offering and mailer to a small portion of your list first. Ideally test two different versions next to each other (called an A/B test) and see which gets the best response.

If one version fails, at least you’ve got this failure out of the way early and minimised it’s impact.

The Selectabase team of marketing experts spend a lot of time speaking with small businesses on the phone, following up on enquiries and introducing our services. What can prove surprising is just how poorly some businesses handle these initial enquiries.

When you are running a small business, you never what the next phone call could bring - a valuable enquiry that could turn into a major new client for example. So no matter whether it’s a dreary Monday morning or the end of a long and tiring week, always try and answer every call and enquiry in a positive and efficient manner!

This is especially true if you are investing in other forms of marketing such as a mailing which can help generate enquiries – make sure you and your staff are ready to receive phone calls in the days following your mailing hitting.

If you're planning a mailshot or direct mail campaign, just what should you actually send - a brochure, letter or  postcard? Read our tips on how to decide what type of mailing to send.

  • If you are mailing existing customers or contacts who are already familiar with your brand, then your audience will normally indulge you by reading a longer letter or brochure.
  • If you are selling a service then you'll be used to the challenge of overcoming the intangible and so will probably need a longer or larger format mailer to explain all the features of your service.
  • Likewise if you are selling a fairly simple product, then a postcard or simple mailer with product details, features and benefits on it could suffice.
  • Do recipients need to respond by mail? If so your mailing will need to include space for an application or order form. If not, then you can just promote your phone number or website address on a simpler mailing.
  • If you are selling in a luxury or high value market, then you want your mailing to reflect this. You'll need to use quality paper and print finishes which add a luxurious touch to your mailing.
  • Traditionally, direct mail experts advised including several different inserts into a mailshot to get the best response. However in the modern digital age attention spans have reduced even further, so a shorter snappier mailing may now yield better results.
In general, our team of direct mail experts usually suggest sending a well written, informative and persuasive letter in a mailing, then if possible follow up by phone. And if you really cant decide what sort of mailing to send, then test two different creatives.

If you need help writing a mailing letter use our free letter writing tool, and if you need a list for mailing check out our online list services.

New to direct marketing? Never sent a mailing before? Read some top tips from our team of direct marketing experts.

At Selectabase we deal with many small businesses such as salons and restaurants who may never have used direct mail before to promote their business. Our team of direct marketing advisors give valuable advice every day, so we thought we'd share some of their top tips with you:

  • Send a letter first. In our experience a well written letter can be the most effective way to convert your leads into clients. If you can then follow up by telephone then great, but at the very least send a personalised letter.
  • If you dont know how to personalise a letter using mail merge from Microsoft Excel to Word, just search for the topic on You Tube and you'll find plenty of free 'how to' videos showing you just what to do.
  • To keep postage costs down check out the possible discounts you can get from Royal Mail. However some of our experts think that a traditional postage stamp applied by hand can increase conversion rates as the recipient is more likely to open it.
  • Fulfilling your mailing needn't be a bind - often small businesses have a junior member of staff who can take on this job in house. Some of our packaged mailing lists like NewB2B and Birthday Mailings provide smaller lists each month which also makes mailings easier to handle, rather than being faced with thousands of empty envelopes to stuff!
If you're thinking of sending a mailing for the first time but arent sure where to start, give our team a call to talk you through the options or you can ask us any direct marketing related questions on the new Selectabase Facebook Page.

If you work in either sales or marketing, then you must read this excellent <a href="" target="_blank">article in Marketing Week</a> about how brands need to bridge the divides between both these disciplines.

<!--more-->It's written with quite an FMCG slant but still contains some valuable (and humourous) insights into the attitudes of sales and marketing teams to each other.

It characterises sales teams as downstream and tactically focused on short term results, and marketing as upstream more strategic and selective thinkers.

But most importantly it highlights how the most successful businesses manage to successfully integrate both disciplines; for example supporting a sales team with a targeted direct marketing or advertising campaign with both sides sharing common objectives. The article also goes on to say that neither team should introduce anything to the market without checking with the other first.

The launch of Gransnet online by the founders of Mumsnet illustrates how older consumers are being targeted in new ways that challenge previous misconceptions of the grey market.

<!--more-->For a start, the launch of an online portal for grans is in itself of interest, but not when you learn that the 50-64-year-old internet user audience is the fastest-growing group of internet users and the over-65s apparently spend 42 hours online per month, which is more than any other group.

The website is being sponsored by a number of brands including Nintendo, not the obvious choice perhaps. But Nintendo is planning to promote gaming on the Wii and DS to help keep brain and body active.

If you are looking to target older consumers, then we offer a range of Silver Prospects lifestyle selections with our <a href="" target="_self">Prospect Download Consumer list</a>.

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