This blog focuses on the world of prospect research and various related fundraising topics. To diversify our subject matter, we like to feature the work of our friends and colleagues in the community. Join me in welcoming Marvin Dawson, Vice President of MMI Direct, for his thoughts on how to improve donor solicitation response rates.
You’ve agonized over every word in the copy, spent hours working with your designer to make sure the layout is perfect, and tested multiple calls to action. You’re finally ready to mail your incredible donor solicitation, right?
Before you do, you should ask yourself one more question — have you used the same care to choose which potential donors to solicit as you have in designing the mail piece itself? Many marketers aren’t aware that their list management decisions can have just as powerful an effect on results as choosing the best creative.
There are three important questions you need to ask yourself to ensure you are mailing to the right recipients:
1. Is every address deliverable? Nothing is more wasteful than paying to mail something that is never going to arrive.
The first step in improving your list’s deliverability is to run it through CASS Certification to standardize the address, append a 9-digit zip code and add a delivery point barcode. With over 11% of all Americans moving in a typical year, the second thing you should do is to match your updated list against the National Change of Address (NCOA) database to make sure it contains the latest addresses. Finally, since as many as 40% of Americans who move don’t bother to file a change of address notice with the USPS, you should also consider using the Proprietary Change of Address (PCOA) database to update your list with the correct addresses for this group.
2. Are there addresses you should exclude from the mailing? We almost universally recommend not mailing to jails or prisons, military bases, nursing homes, trailer parks, vacant lots, disaster areas, and addresses on acquisition lists that are also on the DMA Do Not Mail list. Depending upon your organization’s target audience, records with no names or only company names may or may not be worthwhile for you to send, as might records going to unique zip codes like the Pentagon or a large university. Finally, you may want to exclude mailing to records on an acquisition list that have been flagged as deceased (though you should test these names a few times first, as sometimes they continue to respond, presumably from a surviving spouse!).
3. Is more than one copy of a mailing going to a particular person and/or address? Optimizing your merge purge operations to eliminate duplicate mailings can be surprisingly complex, but often pays out in higher returns.
Want to learn more about how to maximize the response rate to your donor solicitation? Our free eBook, How to Use Data Hygiene to Maximize Your Direct Mail’s ROI, explains in simple terms what you need to know. Download it here!
Marvin Dawson (firstname.lastname@example.org), VP of MMI Direct, has been managing data hygiene and merge purge operations for a wide variety of companies for decades. He eats, breathes and dreams about data, and would love to help your company improve the ROI of your direct mail!