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Best Practices in International Direct & Database Marketing

Date: June, 2010 --

What is "best practice" in cross-border direct mailing and why? Daniel Rutenberg, Vice President of Marketing of the Collinson Group, which operates the Priority Pass loyalty program providing benefits to international air travelers and exclusive access to airport lounges, recently spoke in a webcast to an audience of address data quality and postal experts gathered in Switzerland and on the internet.

The Group mails "millions" of promotion pieces and customer letters every year to practically every country in the world, so Daniel has lots of experience in this subject.

Professionalism and the Database

The first thing Daniel did was walk the audience through "getting ready to mail" and demonstrated why mailing is the end of the process, not the beginning. Moreover, it is merely the end of the first step in executing a professional direct mail marketing campaign.

"For us, everything starts with the Database." Mr. Rutenberg stated, "This is the main asset for the brand. Its integrity is paramount! Our database is constantly updated and periodically we undergo data hygiene and cleansing to ensure our data is current and, more importantly, that the addresses are deliverable."

They run multiple processes, including cleansing and undergo data hygiene, merge/purge and standardization of addresses. In other words, they do their best to ensure names are spelled correctly with proper titles, that addresses are formatted correctly and that they don’t mail multiple pieces to the same person at the same address. Obviously, your price test won’t be valid if you do that.

Test and Retest

The Group tests every imaginable way of sending its mail, from direct injection to using consolidators, and using different postal systems as points of entry.

With the postage cost having "increased from being about 15-20% to be anything between 35-50% of total mailing costs", extra care with the address and with postal entry have been proven cost-justified.

Constant experimentation with drop locales, postal systems, and consolidators is important. In addition, "Over the years, we have learned that mail delivery will vary from country to country and/or season to season depending on service used."

Response Rates

After the mail is dropped, all you can do is wait. Response rates vary from 0.25% to 3.0%, and undeliverable returns average around 5%. Surprisingly, the response rates are similar in all countries, regardless of state of economic development, but they get more undeliverable as addressed (UAA) mail from the developed and developing world.


What to do with UAA? There are lots of business reasons to pay very close attention to this subject, which we’ll discuss in the next issue of Fresh Data. In the meantime, be sure to ask Data Services, Inc. to carry out those hygiene recommendations that Daniel's very successful company insists on.