Keeping It Clean and Simple
List hygiene might not be at the top of your list of key focus areas when it comes to building a successful direct-marketing program, but it should be. I think of list hygiene like a car’s engine. It’s not the flashy part of the car, and it’s not something that you might think of every day; but if neglected, it could significantly reduce your car’s performance.
To ensure you’re building a solid, clean donor list, use business rules to determine what constitutes a valid donor record. For example, do you need to have a full name and complete address? Or is it sufficient just to have a last name, street address and ZIP code? You’ll also want to centralize who has access to make changes to a donor’s record to ensure the proper rules are being followed. Make sure you have your donor file NCOA’d at least annually so you have the most up-to-date addresses, and also perform database maintenance to merge duplicate records or duplicate names within a household based on business rules.
For e-mail records, make sure you identify bounce-backs. You should make the effort to update all e-mail addresses to valid addresses, but if you can’t, flag them as “do not e-mail.”
Whether you implement these ideas or others, take time to “tune up” your donor list. It will help you achieve maximum results.
Brian Cowart is senior director of direct-mail donor acquisition and cultivation at ALSAC/St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. He can be reached via www.stjude.org.