Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Hygiene: Personal & Professional. It never ends.

Teaching you to take good care of yourself was your Mother’s job. She taught you to brush and floss, wash your hands often and wear clean underwear. 

Mom teaching you good hygiene.She did OK. Your teeth are largely intact, your hair (or at least most of it) is still stuck in place, you didn’t catch the Swine Flu last year, and the nurses at the emergency room didn’t snicker when you showed up after that little accident recently. 

Taking good care of your data is our job.

In ancient days of yore (was it really just a couple of years ago?) all we had to worry about was your POSTAL information.

Keeping postal data clean has been simplified with the US Post Office’s now-required NCOA (National Change of Address) address update process. Running your data through the NCOA data confirms that (1) your address is correct and (2) your intended recipient still lives at that address. 

What you may not know is that there are 49 reasons (!!) why your postal address can fail. Some are fatal (ie mismatched city/state/zip); some are merely inconveniences (misspelled street name); and some fall somewhere in between (missing apartment/suite numbers). 

NCOA will also tell you if your intended recipient has moved and left a forwarding address, or not.
Data Hygiene is rewarded!In today’s economy, moving without a forwarding address is unfortunately quite common. It’s a way to avoid those pesky creditors. (USPS says about 40% of the “moved and left no forwarding address” types are back home with Mom or living at the KOA Kampground. You pick ‘em.) They may also have moved to Happy Acres on the far side of town. You never know why they disappeared. But you do know it is time to delete them from your datafile.

People who have moved overseas are goners. (Retirement in Costa Rica? Fleeing the mob? Avoiding AmEx? CIA types on their next under-cover mission?) You won’t find them unless they choose to resurface. They might as well be in witness protection. Delete ‘em.
Today, now that we email and text message, there is a plethora of electronic/virtual data we need to keep clean for you, too.

EMAIL is easy. To a point. Send an email blast, get back a list of “bounced backs” or “undeliverables.”
Then the real work begins. You can go through the rejected emails and confirm—one little email address at a time—that (1) the data is entered correctly (keypunch errors are unfortunately common) and (2) the rejection is justified, (ie the person is no longer at that company).

CSI Miami ModeThen you launch into CSI mode, checking each address individually until you’ve cleaned your data. Making a tough job tougher, people change email addresses more often than they change their minds, thus multiplying your search efforts geometrically.

However: Ignore email list hygiene at your own peril. Many ISPs will blacklist you as a Spammer if you send out too many rejected emails.
Plan B: While not infallible, running your email data through a filter to determine if it meets the recipient company’s email formula will help cut down on your laborious one-at-a-time search. Then all you have to do is ensure that your recipient sill works there. Piece of cake! 

But don’t forget that if he doesn’t work there any more, he should have a successor who might want to know about you. Your search has just multiplied, but you have identified a new target market. Congratulations!
Individuals keep cell numbers for life.Cell phone numbers offer similar challenges. But the good news (and it truly is good news!) is that in our brave new world, individuals tend to keep cell phone numbers—like their social security numbers—for their entire lives, cradle to grave. You’ve just simplified the address hygiene problem enormously.

Bad news! You’ve just opened up a new potential problem. You’re a local restaurant, and your target recipient just moved out of state. She’s no longer interested in your special dinner offer. Oops!
Solutions: (1) Confirm the number you have is the number you need. As stated earlier, typos occur with frightening frequency. We have lists available to crosscheck your phone numbers with the correct phone numbers.

(2) Ask your audience occasionally if they would like to continue to receive your text messages. Better they should tell you they are not interested than you continue to send annoying messages to folks who don’t want to hear from you.

(3) Be sure the number is still live. There are lists of cell phone numbers that we can cross reference with street addresses to be sure your target audience is still where you think they are. If you’re local or regional and they have moved outside your area, maybe you don’t need to send them anything any more.

(4) Delete cell phones who have not responded to you in 36 months. 

If wearing clean underwear is good personal hygiene, (you never know when you’ll need to go to the hospital!), then checking your data is good professional hygiene. 

Contact us if you need help. We promise not to snicker either.

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