Time to spring clean your data? (Yes, we know it’s July!)

For any direct marketing campaign you need data – people’s names and contact details – and for an effective, cost-effective initiative, the data you use must be accurate.

Out-of-date data – does it matter that much?

A great big YES in answer to that question, for a number of (quite obvious) reasons:

Using inaccurate contact details, you may:

·        Waste your time and money

·        Miss important potential clients

·        Damage your company’s reputation

·        Breach compliance with the Data Protection Act (soon to be GDPR)

·        Annoy people for whom the mailing is irrelevant

·        Distress relatives of the bereaved

Some facts about data decay

Just because you’ve lived in the same house for the last 15 years and your place of work has been at the same address since the beginning of time, it doesn’t mean that everyone else is in the same position.

According to research,[1] each year around 13% of people in the UK will move home; 300,000 will marry or have a civil ceremony, meaning they may change their surname; 600,000 will die; 200,000 will emigrate and hundreds of thousands may move to the UK.

Every year, the Royal Mail has to make about 1.25 million address changes to its Postcode Address File (PAF) – that’s more than 3000 a week. The PAF gives us access to over 29 million residential and business addresses (at the last count.)

It’s said that if you communicate with someone, there’s an alarming 20% chance that their contact information will change in some way within 30 days, and, in 5 years, if you do nothing to clean your data, you may have nothing relevant left at all in your database.

When was the last time you cleaned your data, or had it cleaned?

How we can help at Mailing Expert

We can offer you a full range of data cleaning services – which doesn’t ever involve the use of spray polish or feather dusters, by the way!

Or we can offer an audit, which determines what you need. We can hone and refine the data you wish to use for a marketing campaign to get it in the best possible shape to maximise its value. Here’s what we’d recommend:

1.     Screen against the PAF database

2.     De-duplicate – removing any records which are essentially the same

3.     ‘Goneaway’ (people who’ve moved) and bereavement screening

4.     Check against the Mailing Preference Services register – people who’ve said they don’t want to receive mailings.

Doing this will make sure you make the most of savings available of postage as well as reducing the impact of negative publicity arising from incorrectly sent mail.

Contact us for a chat on 01825 983033 or info@mailingexpert.co.uk about your data needs.

 

Mailing Expert

[1] Mycustomer.com

What’s happening on 25th May 2018?

  • It’s Julian Clary’s 58th birthday
  • It’s 41 years since Star Wars was released
  • GDPR replaces the current DPA

Cause for celebration all round? Maybe – but certainly, cause for preparation – and we don’t mean saving up to buy Julian Clary’s dog a diamante collar.

So – there’s less than a year to go and it makes absolute business sense to Be Prepared, exactly as the scout motto says. Don’t subscribe to lastminute.com; you’ll only regret it.

And what does GDPR stand for? General Data Protection Regulation, which replaces the Data Protection Act (DPA).

See here for the blog we wrote earlier which explains its evolution.

In brief, the GDPR concerns the rights people have over their personal data*. The DPA has become outdated since technology has progressed so rapidly in the past few years and so much business is carried out online. The new regulations aim to streamline data protection across Europe so that, no matter which country you trade with, or in which country your data is held, there’s consistency in the way data is handled. Helpful for businesses. Reassuring for individuals.

By the way, the fact that we are in the process of leaving the EU makes no difference because the GDPR applies to every business which holds or processes the data of EU citizens. If we want to trade in Europe then we will be obliged to show that UK standards are equivalent to the EU’s GDPR framework. Additionally, GDPR will become mandatory in the UK so even if you don’t trade overseas, it will apply to you.

There’s plenty to be getting on with in the meantime, meticulously outlined by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). Here are five things you could put on your To Do List in the next few weeks. We’ll suggest more in subsequent blogs about GDPR.

  1. Appoint a data protection officer – crucial. It’s vital that someone takes the lead in this matter, otherwise there’s a danger it will be lost in the piles of other policies every company has to deal with. And, that someone should report to a board member or ideally be a board member.
  2. Raise awareness you may know about the impending change in regulations but do all the key decision-makers in your company?
  3. Organise an information auditunless you know the current personal data situation in your company (Whose data? Where from? How shared? To whom?) how can you possibly plan for the future?
  4. Check procedures – do they cover the new rights individuals will have?
  5. Plan timetable to amend privacy notices – make sure they will meet the new requirements in plenty of time for GDPR.

At Mailing Expert, we’re ahead of the game. Why not join us? Together we can make this happen.

 

Mailing Expert

 

* personal data is not only an individual’s name & address it is anything that identifies an individual from other information, including physical characteristics, pseudonyms, occupation, address, email et cetera or a combination of identification elements; that means business contacts too.

Up Close and Personal Mailshots

In an earlier blog, we delved into the world of mailshots and the value of creating unmissable mail moments for your clients and potential customers – which is exactly what we’re so good at, here at Mailing Expert, without wishing to blow our own trumpet too loudly. (But doing it anyway!)

For your mail shot to be noticed and read – well, that’s what you want, isn’t it? – there are certain measures you have to take. How else will your DM campaign be an effective means of promoting your product or services – and cost-effective too? We’re here to help you get your messages noticed and your deals considered.

Looking good?

When you’re designing your mailshot, whether it’s a letter, postcard or flyer, think about who it is that you want to engage and design it accordingly. It’s important to know your audience. Are they young mothers? Silver surfers? Professionals? City dwellers? Undertake some research into the sort of aesthetics that will appeal. That might sound like stereotyping but, in reality, it makes marketing sense. If it’s relevant to whoever you’re targeting then they’re more likely to read it.

If you don’t feel confident enough to create something in-house then you could make use of our professional design and printing services.

The personal touch

Are you more likely to read something that’s addressed to you by name or something generic? There’s really only one answer to that question and at Mailing Expert we have the means to personalise each item you send out with the customer’s name. Be careful, though, to make sure whatever you send is genuinely relevant to that person and sent at an appropriate time. It will backfire badly and make your company look sloppy if it’s a poorly targeted mailshot.

Words matter

Be brief. It’s strange to say, maybe, but thinking up a few choice words and a snappy headline actually takes a lot longer than writing great chunks of text. It’s worth the time taken – every minute of it. Directness, a dynamic central message and clear instructions about how to proceed if someone is interested are crucial. People are always busy these days. If a piece of writing takes too long to process, guess what?…it will be discarded.

Be warm and engaging. It’s a great way to start building a relationship with someone, or consolidate an existing relationship. Think about humour and edginess, if that fits in with the personality of your brand.

Tried and Tested

Don’t just get your mailshot printed and sent off without testing it out on colleagues or people you know from the relevant demographic. Far better to tinker a bit with design and wording before it’s too late. Above all, proofread and proofread again. There’s nothing more calculated to give the wrong impression about your company and the significance it places on attention to detail than a mailshot which has spelling mistakes, words missed out and apostrophes where apostrophes shouldn’t be.

Value for money

Follow all these suggestions and your mailshot will reap rewards for your company, tempting new customers and impressing others. Your name and brand will be out there and remembered for all the right reasons for a long time to come.

Contact us on 01825 983033 if you’d like our help.

Mailing Expert

The wonderful world of variable data

“Variety’s the very spice of life, that gives it all its flavour.”

There’s that quote that we know so well, in its entirety – and a congratulatory pat on the back for anyone who knows who it’s by (without looking it up on Google!)[1] With any direct mailing you undertake, variable data can really increase the effectiveness of your campaign – add flavour to it, you could say.  Let Mailing Expert tell you how.

So what is variable data?

No, variable data is NOT the same as alternative facts, a phrase which is all too current at the moment.  In this context, we are talking about variable data printing, commonly abbreviated to VDP.   VDP makes use of digital technology to link print engines to databases which contain content for printed documents. It makes changes to pieces of print automatically – with no manual steps – as they are being printed, allowing you to personalise your communication with ease by varying text details, images, colour schemes, charts…you name it, if it can be printed, you can change it. It’s a technique that is closely related to mail merge, but VDP allows changes to text, graphics and layout.

Why use VDP?

Well, do you want more sales, higher returns and an exponential rise in customer loyalty? Would you like better targeted communications filled with relevant information? There are many marketing studies which show categorically that personalising communications really can boost their effectiveness.

By ‘personalising communications’ we don’t just mean putting ‘Dear Katie’ at the top instead of ‘Dear Valued Customer’.  In a 2014 survey,[2] it was revealed that 63% of people receive so many name-personalised messages that it has ceased to have any impact. Your intended audience needs something more and better now – like VDP.

How can VDP help?

Imagine you were launching a new range of clothing for children.  With VDP, each DM flyer you send out can be customised to appeal directly to the intended recipient.  It goes without saying that names and addresses will be different for each one (as in mail merge).  The brilliant thing about VDP is that with a diligently-populated database which has captured the ages, sex and ethnicity of children, in just one print run, you could produce flyers that target parents of 10 year-old girls…or baby boys…or families with Chinese heritage…or any other attribute you have researched and stored.  Of course, this all relies on the content of the database… In the example we’re using, you’ll need a whole portfolio of images showing all sorts of children wearing your clothes range.

What about populating databases?

That’s the tedious bit, isn’t it? If you’re using variable data, then it must be stored in the database in the first place.  In most cases, this has to be inserted manually, though some computer programs can gather bulk information from different sources and transfer it directly.  Your data can come from many areas of customer contact – from call centre enquiries, your website and from sales activity.  Nevertheless, at each point, someone has to put in the information and all the colour choices, fonts and images to appeal to different demographics.  And once done, of course, it has to be kept up to date.  There’s nothing worse for your company image than sending a DM with incorrect or irrelevant information.

So is it all worth it in the end?

Here at Mailing Expert, we would say a resounding YES! More statistics, if you’re not convinced:

  • 74% of marketers report that personalisation increases customer engagement leading to improving conversions[3]
  • 84% report better customer loyalty and retention[4]

SO…start filling in that database – or better still, give us a call and we’ll tell you how we can help you.

 

Mailing Expert

 

[1] William Cowper. From his 1785 poem, ‘The Task’

[2] Conducted by digital messaging platform, Lyris

[3] Econsultancy research

[4] ExactTarget

New data protection legislation from the EU

We all love a bit of legislation, especially when it’s contained in a 204 page directive from the EU. In the spirit of customer service, here’s a summary of the reforms to save you endless nights of tedious bedtime reading. We aim to please.

The 1985 Data Protection Act Directive and the 1998 Data Protection Act

Just to bring us up to speed. In the latter part of the 20th century it became apparent that most companies and organisations – individuals too – were storing and processing personal information on computers. While this has many advantages as far as speed and efficiency goes, it leaves us vulnerable because this data may be accessed by others without our knowledge or permission. Unscrupulous people could misuse it – use it for commercial advantage, identity theft for criminal purposes or sell it on to a third party for financial gain.

The 1985 Data Protection Directive was created to control the way such information is handled and to give some legal rights to people who have information stored about them. It was implemented into UK law by the 1998 Data Protection Act. The problem with the 1995 Data Protection Directive was that each Member State could implement it into their own national law in a slightly different way so each Member State had their own set of rules and since people often have data stored in many countries, as they say, things got complicated…

So now the 2016 EU Legislation

Designed to establish one set of rules across Europe, with a European Data Protection Board to ensure a common interpretation across all the national data protection authorities, it should make it more straightforward for everyone to do business outside their home country. It heralds the arrival of an era of renewed accountability and transparency, which can only be applauded.

It consists of two parts:

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – allowing individuals to have more control over their personal data, reducing regulation and enhancing trust so everyone can make the most of the opportunities afforded by the Digital Single Market.

The Criminal Justice Directive – concerned with Europe-wide cooperation with criminal investigations and law enforcement, leading to more effective anti-crime and anti-terrorism.
Political agreement on the test has been reached; it will become law very shortly; enforcement will start in 2018. It’s something for which you must prepare because penalties for breaches will be HUGE – figures flying about are fines of €20 million or 4% of a business’s global gross revenue. Ouch!

What it means for you – in a nutshell

N.B. This is not comprehensive. It covers the aspects that we consider have most bearing on the direct marketing aspect of your business.

The definition of personal data – any information which allows anyone to identify a person, so aside from the obvious name, address andn ID numbers, this now includes such things as cookies and IP addresses if they lead back to a person.

Consent – agreeing to data collection and use doesn’t need to be explicit but it must be unambiguous – a subtle distinction? It must be clear why you require the data. Your privacy notices and policies must be tip-top, accessible and transparent. Consent must be acquired by a “clear affirmative action.” No action, silence and use of pre-ticked boxes will not count as consent. Withdrawing consent should be just as easy as giving it.

Profiling – that’s to say, using the data to determine particular criteria about individuals – like personal preferences or location. This is an important tool in DM. It looks as though consent must have been obtained in the first instance.

Legitimate Interest – use of data for DM is considered to be legitimate (phew!) – that is, unless what you intend to do breaches the fundamentals human rights and freedoms of the subject, particularly in the case of children.

Data Protection Officer – it will be mandatory to appoint one if your organisation is engaged in regular and systematic monitoring of data subjects on a large scale or processing sensitive personal data. We will have to find out what this means from the guidance which will be issued in the next two years. At one point in the discussions, this ruling was only applicable to companies with more than 250 employees, now it’s any organisation which meets the above criteria. The appointed person must know about data protection law and practices to a level suitable for the role within a particular company. Even if your organisation does not have to appoint one compulsorily, it may decide to appoint one anyway.

Privacy Risk Impact Assessments – data controllers must take robust precautions before embarking on higher-risk data-processing activities to minimise the risk to their data subjects. This might include encryption, establishing resilient systems and regular evaluation to ensure security is fit for purpose.

Notification of breaches – “a breach of security leading to the accidental or unlawful destruction, loss, alteration, unauthorised disclosure of, or access to, personal data transmitted, stored or otherwise processed.” If the breach is going to impact on the rights and freedoms of individuals then ‘the appropriate supervisory authority’ must be notified within 72 hours, and the data subjects must be told, ‘without undue delay.’ Data processors and must inform data controllers are both obliged to notify

Liability of data processors – data processors will have direct obligations under the Regulation and will not be able to hide behind data controllers.

Have you lost the will to live now? Our apologies. The trouble is, it IS something we all have to grasp before it’s too late. These are regulations we will be implementing at Mailing Expert – for YOUR protection as well as ours.

Deep breaths, everyone!MEL LogoEX

Mailing Lists like that first pancake?

Are your mailing lists like that first pancake you try your best to cook? By this we mean shapeless, full of holes and only fit for chucking in the bin. Mailing Expert is here to help you to achieve perfection with mailing lists – and we’re pretty good at pancakes too!

Mailing lists serve a purpose – just like pancakes…Pancake Fail

Originally, pancakes were created as a way of using up all the leftover food before the season of Lent begins, when it was hoped that everybody would fast, or at least be abstemious. Mailing lists were created not as a means TO fast but TO BE fast! That’s to say, when your company has a marketing campaign, having a mailing list is a super-efficient way of getting your message out to the right people, whether it’s by direct mailing by post or virtually by email.

…but they’ve got to be good

Nothing worse than a crêpe pancake! (See what we did there?) Actually, there IS something worse, and that’s a mailing list which has duplicate addresses, contains out-of-date information, is not targeted at the right demographic profile…you get the picture?

Fascinating statistics

In Britain, we use an astounding 52 million eggs on Pancake Day which is 22 million more than on a usual day. And, if you employ our services here at Mailing Expert, we’ll be able to provide you with equally fascinating information using the responses to your mailing, issuing a fully-formatted data file which shows the results of your campaign. This will highlight trends and patterns, allowing you to hone and refine your approach so you’re even more successful next time around.

Mailing Expert is flippin’ marvellous!

Just like the best of all pancakes that you want to try again and again, we’re brilliant at mailing lists. We can provide high quality integrity-checked prospect data targeted to your exact requirements – and that includes phone lists too, not just mailing addresses – from a staggering 4 million business locations and nearly every UK household.

We can ensure we don’t duplicate anything on your existing lists, we can append telephone numbers so you can make follow-up calls once you’ve mailed out. It’s as crucial to have a clean database as it is to have a clean frying pan when you’re making pancakes!

Top Testimonials

cc296-basic-pancakes-2-20775
Lemon & Sugar Pancake. Yum!

Britain’s favourite pancake, a YouGov survey shows, has the traditional lemon and sugar topping.
When it comes to mailing lists, Talkmarketing, the telemarketing, telesales and cold-calling company, based in St. Leonards-on-Sea, favours Mailing Expert:

“The key to a successful telemarketing campaign is in the data. Katie and I work extremely well together because I get all this information from my client and then Katie inputs all that information into her data system and voila we then have targeted data.

Mailing Expert are thorough, they cleanse their data regularly and work with associate companies who have high and expert cleansing processes.

Data purchased is always run through the TPS ‘Telephone Preference Service’ so all the legalities are in place.”

Mailing Expert – as popular as lemon and sugar-topped pancakes!

 

MEL LogoEX

Telemarketing as part of an Integrated Campaign

First, here’s an advisory: telemarketing is NOT the same as telesales, those calls which we all dread, offering double glazing or solar panels or carpet cleaning because ‘we just happen to be in your area this week’.

So what is telemarketing?

Telemarketing is quite different. It’s a service which is the human interaction element of a marketing campaign, generating interest and creating opportunities. Its personal approach offers a chance for both a potential client and a business to find out more about each other, to see if synergy exists for a mutually-beneficial relationship in the future.

Proficient telemarketers can often communicate brand values and the personality behind your business, putting your proposition into engaging words far more effectively than any other means of contact

Telemarketing can be used on its own but works even better as part of an overall marketing strategy. Telesales can be part of a telemarketing campaign, but, for overall effectiveness it is only one element in a multi-layered approach.

Organising a telemarketing campaign

What are the first steps to take? At Mailing Expert, we work closely with Lesley Roberts of Talkmarketing, a B2B and B2C telemarketing company. She suggests, ‘Ask yourself the following questions: Who are we targeting?  What geographical area will we cover?  How big will the companies be? Will we search on turnover or number of employees?’ Another factor to consider is choosing the optimum time.

Lesley also advises having all marketing collateral in place before you start. Or, at the very least, deciding on the platforms you will use – website, emails, letters, social media… Having well-produced marketing material on hand, both digital and printed, will dramatically increase your chances of building successful relationships which may then be converted into future business.

Most important of all, key to a successful campaign is good data.

Data is king

We’ve all done it – phoned a business and asked to speak to a decision-maker by name, only to be told she left five years ago. This immediately puts us on the back foot. As Lesley says, ‘ The company will think that we have not researched, put us into that box of ‘just another cold caller’ and it is really hard to build the trust from that point.’

Data that is six months old is too old. It’s sensible – no, VITAL – to update it before you start! We can help you to cleanse it, screen it, run it through Telephone Preference Service so that you won’t waste your time or anybody else’s.

If you use inaccurate data, your telemarketers’ time will be spent amending contact information, not forming relationships with potential customers. In the long run, spending time and money getting it right in the first place will actually save you money – and your reputation.

Not to be ignored

Telemarketing should never be taken out of the equation if a marketing campaign is to have maximum impact. It’s something that you shouldn’t ignore – and neither will prospective clients if you do it well.

And the added bonus? Your results are fantastically easy to track and measure.

Let us know how we can help – because, at Mailing Expert, help we can!

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