Update and clean mailing lists

by Kathleen Fisher, MarketingFile.com

Why lists need to be cleaned

Direct marketing is an effective tool to reach potential customers and to develop an on-going relationship with existing customers, maximizing their loyalty and value. The direct marketing industry is booming with direct mail alone generating an estimated GBP20 billion worth of business every year in the UK. Consequently an increasing number of businesses are embracing direct marketing techniques as part of their sales and marketing strategies.
The success of a direct marketing campaign relies heavily upon the quality of the prospect data used. Having a large client database is a valuable asset but if many of the details are incorrect or out-of-date, it is not a viable use of time, money and resources. It can even lead to heavy fines if the contact details are not compliant with recent direct marketing legislation.

The Telephone and Fax Preference Service Lists

Legislation now states that unsolicited calls can no longer be made to just anyone in the country. Individuals (defined as consumers, sole traders and, except in Scotland, partnerships) not wishing to receive unsolicited calls, can register with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS). Once registered, a 28-day grace period is allowed, after which time any company making an unsolicited call risks the possibility of a GBP5,000 fine. This provision extends to PLCs and Ltd. Companies from June 25th 2004.
Restrictions are even greater under the Fax Preference Service (FPS). An "individual" cannot be sent an unsolicited fax without prior written consent and non-individuals cannot be faxed if they have registered with the FPS. The TPS and FPS legislation applies to existing customers as well as to "cold-calls".
One of the main problems with this legislation is the level of ignorance about it. Many companies are continuing with telemarketing campaigns without checking their numbers against the TPS list. The Data Protection Commissioner recently issued enforcement notices against two companies who have sent unsolicited faxes in breach of new regulations relating to unsolicited calls.
The number of notices issued is expected to grow as increasing number of individuals and companies register with the TPS and FPS. There are now in excess of a million phone numbers on the TPS list and the FPS list contains almost half a million numbers. The TPS and FPS lists can be subscribed to individually but most companies cannot justify the annual costs of over GBP10,000 for the two lists.

Cleaning addresses

The Mailing Preference Service (MPS) list is made up of consumers who have opted-out of receiving unsolicited mail or specify that they would like to receive certain types of mail. The scheme aims to foster good relations between direct mail users and the general public. Whilst MPS is not a legal requirement, adhering to the list removes the drain on resources and the time-consuming task of sending unsolicited mail to someone who is not going to open it.
It is also a good idea to check addresses against Royal Mail's Postal Address File (PAF). Businesses can use this file to check for spelling mistakes, the wrong postcode or incorrect addresses and amends the address. This removes the cost of sending mail to incorrect addresses and having it returned plus the unprofessional image of misspelling an address

How to clean your existing databases

Until recently, cleaning lists of addresses or numbers against the various Preference Service lists and PAF has been a daunting task. The lists are expensive to subscribe to, are very big and require the technical expertise of an I.T. department to manipulate. A cost-effective solution is to use the Internet as businesses only need pay for the number of checks they require as opposed to the entire list. One such service is provided by online direct marketing services company MarketingFile.com. The site offers three different cleaning services to satisfy all types of user. These are bulk upload, in-application cleaning and online checking.

Links for reference:

On-line number check to see if a particular number has been registered for exclusion - NumberCheck from MarketingFile.com - Free online TPS / FPS checking.

Telephone Preference Service  - www.tpsonline.org.uk
Fax Preference Service - www.fpsonline.org.uk

TA Editors Note:

www.marketingfile.com - is owned and operated by Wise & Loveys Information Services Ltd., members of the Direct Marketing Association which regulates the use of information in accordance with the Data Protection Act, guaranteeing the confidentiality of clients’ lists.

Reviewed January 2011

last updated : 21/01/2011

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