Direct Marketing, Mail Order, and E-commerce News from the National Mail Order Association

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Companies Do Not Know How Much Direct Mail They Are Sending

Many companies lack an effective data management strategy. The use of multiple data sources combined with a lack of data cleaning contribute to confusion

Over 54 per cent of companies worldwide are in the dark about direct mail they actually send out to clients, customers and prospects over each year. Furthermore, the financial implications of returned mail aren’t understood by 88 per cent of companies, let alone the impact on the environment and hidden costs to their brand reputation. These are the results of a global investigation commissioned by QAS Ltd – developers of QuickAddress software (http://www.qas.co.uk), an Experian® company.

The global data quality research was conducted by independent research organization, Dynamic Markets. Over 400 worldwide businesses were canvassed revealing that the lack of awareness over direct mail volumes among database owners is also compounded by a number of issues. Not only do many database owners report having multiple collection channels, they lack an address data capture system. Importantly not enough attention is paid to data cleaning and suppressing databases. The top four data challenges, according to the companies taking part in the research by QAS, are:

Address information is of poor quality
Contacts are out-of-date, requiring address correction
Postcodes are frequently missing
E-mail addresses are often not supplied

Harry Meikle, group managing director of QAS said: “Organisations are wasting money by sending out direct mail that is not relevant or reaching its target audience because of poor data quality, but because most organizations don’t track the volumes of mail they send out or receive back as returned mail, they cannot measure the extent of the data quality challenge they are facing and will find it hard to implement procedures to improve it.”

Despite 88 per cent of database owners accepting the challenges they face with data more than a quarter surveyed (27 percent) do not bother to seek advice from external source to help them improve their data quality software and processes.

Sarah Burnett, Senior Research Analyst, Butler Group, commented: “The key for businesses is to understand exactly what their ‘hidden’ costs are from returned or unwanted mail. Only then can they begin to get to the heart of the problem. Once they are in receipt of this information they then need to plan a fully integrated data strategy, which has to be led from the very top of the organization. Data is a management issue as it directly affects brand reputation and ultimately revenues, but it is quite clear that companies are still not getting the message.”

Poor address cleaning and weak compliance
A cause for concern is that, more than a third (35 percent) of businesses around the world admit to cleaning their databases just once a year, and some never clean them at all. Over a third of businesses (thirty-four percent) also said they never run their customer data management system against suppression or preference files, and only 31 percent do so annually.

With so many businesses paying scant attention to data compliance and cleansing, it is unsurprising that database owners stated that ‘keeping up-to-date with permissions and preference service registrations’ were among their least important considerations.

Harry Meikle concluded: “Whilst there are obvious costs associated with returned mail and waste, businesses rarely think about the hidden costs of poor data management. Quite simply, these issues can only be dealt with once a data quality culture is ingrained throughout the organization.”

Download the International Research White Paper, Meeting the challenge of data management at: http://www.qas.co.uk/challenge 

Note to editors:
Research methodology: This research was commissioned by QAS and covered a cross-section of countries and regions around the world: Asia Pacific, Benelux, France, Germany, Nordics, Spain, UK and USA. 800 telephone interviews were conducted with two sample groups of respondents – 400 interviews were conducted with business people, and 400 interviews were conducted with database professionals with responsibility for maintaining their company’s B2B customer and prospect databases. Respondents were split evenly by territory.

Geographic variation – data cleaning and suppression frequency
Country Organisations claiming to clean data monthly or more often Organisations claiming to check data monthly or more often against suppression or preference files

Asia Pac 46% 6%
Benelux 38% 4%
France 36% 8%
Germany 78% 8%
Nordics 64% 8%
Spain 70% 8%
UK 46% 8%
USA 42% 12%

About QAS
QAS is an international provider of identity management solutions and data accuracy. The QAS QuickAddress software range is a tool to help worldwide companies capture precise address data and conserve integrity over time. Any company or business that stores data about prospects, clients, suppliers, employees and distribution networks will gain from the efficiency benefits and cost savings that QuickAddress achieves.

QuickAddress is an advanced data capture system - based on data secured leading data sources and from postal authorities. QuickAddress is a cleansing and maintenance system for name and address records. With the addition of extra data from over sixty datasets, the real potential of the original data is enriched.

The newest innovation from QAS is IDentifier which is designed to develop better processes for identity management. The primary IDentifier solution Authenticate Pro provides businesses with quick, efficient electronic authentication of individuals. This is a help in cutting costs, minimizing the risk of potential fraudulent actions and providing protection against identity theft.

QAS’s Award winning solutions are the result of a fourteen year investment in technology development. QAS ensures each and every solution delivers the highest possible levels of functionality as well as service support. QAS supports more than 9,500 worldwide clients across all industry sectors. QAS is a wholly owned subsidiary of Experian®, the global information solutions company. Visit QAS on the web at www.qas.com 

About Experian
Experian is a global leader in providing analytical and information services to organizations and consumers to help manage the risk and reward of commercial and financial decisions.

Combining its unique information tools and deep understanding of individuals, markets and economies, Experian partners with organizations around the world to establish and strengthen customer relationships and provide their businesses with competitive advantage.

For consumers, Experian delivers critical information that enables them to make financial and purchasing decisions with greater control and confidence.

Clients include organizations from financial services, retail and catalogue, telecommunications, utilities, media, insurance, automotive, leisure, e-commerce, manufacturing, property and government sectors.

Experian Group Limited is listed on the London Stock Exchange (EXPN) and is a constituent of the FTSE-100 index. It has corporate headquarters in Dublin, Ireland, and operational headquarters in Costa Mesa, California and Nottingham, UK. Experian employs more than 12,500 people in 34 countries worldwide, supporting clients in more than 60 countries. Annual sales are $3.1 billion (£1.7billion).

For more information, visit the Group's website on www.experiangroup.com.

The word 'Experian' is a registered trademark in the EU and other countries and is owned by Experian Ltd and/or its associated companies.

About Butler Group
Butler Group (www.butlergroup.com) is Europe's leading independent IT Research and Advisory organisation. Its mission is to ensure that its clients are the most comprehensively informed IT and business managers on current, emerging and future technology matters, and their impact on business - in short, "Analysis without compromise". Butler Group has established an enviable reputation for the impartiality and incisiveness of its research and opinions. This is evidenced by a client base encompassing over 40% of the top 100 companies in each of Butler Group's key markets. Butler Group is a wholly owned subsidiary of Datamonitor Plc (www.datamonitor.com)

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