How to Keep Your List Up To Date

In the help sheet Seven Reasons Why you Should Maintain your List; we explained many of the reasons behind the need to keep your direct mail-out list up to date.

The next step is actually doing so.

And while there is some work involved in keeping your list clean and tidy, the good news is that doing so doesn't have to mean days stuck in front of a computer or poring over lists of names – that is, as long as you plan your maintenance well.

Following are some steps you can take, and methods you can use, to keep your mailing list spick and span.

Ways to Maintain Your List

  • Regular cleaning.
You need to clean your database, and the best way of doing so is to do a little bit of cleaning on a regular basis. Set aside some time each fortnight or month to go through and clean up your list – and stick to the routine.

Some of the things you can do when performing your regular cleaning are:
  • Check names for their completeness and accuracy – particularly in regards to spelling.
  • Eliminate duplicated records. Receiving two or three of everything from your group can become very annoying very quickly for your mail recipient.
  • Make sure any changes of information – name, address, change from maiden to married name - you receive from contacts are quickly entered into your listings.
  • Also, make sure the details of any contacts who have asked to have their details removed from your list – or any contacts that have passed away – are removed quickly.

  • Facility to look after any detail changes from contacts.
Having a person or point of contact within your organisation to receive and be responsible for any changes to contacts' details is one way of co-ordinating any changes that need to be made.

That person is responsible for gathering up any changes to contact details on a weekly or fortnightly basis, and either making the changes themselves or ensuring the person in charge of your group's list does so.

How many people your organisation chooses to have with access to the list – or the ability to change it – is up to you. For more information on this, refer to the help sheet Managing the Use of Your List.

  • Inactive contact file.
Consider instituting an inactive or lapsed contact file. If you do so, store the details of these contacts in a separate listing from your main one, and earmark a certain number of them each month or every so often for chasing up.

If these contacts become active again, move their details back into the main listing.

  • Change of address communication.
Put a change of address communication in each correspondence you send to contacts.

This communication can be as simple as inserting a request like: "If you are on the move, or any of your details have changed, please let us know by replying to us by mail, by email or by phone", in your mail-out or newsletter, with your group's contact details accompanying the request.

  • Ensure accurate data capture.
Making sure your data capture is accurate in the first place will save costly or irritating errors later on.

Check and double check your data capture methods to make sure they are clear and generate clear responses.

Also go through your list for variants on names and other details that can give duplicate records. For example: John Smith at 12a Park Street, Bloggsville, is probably the same person as Mr J Smith of Park Street, Bloggsville. Don't waste time direct mailing him twice.

  • Finally, keep it legal.
Make sure your group or organisation is doing the right thing and complying with privacy legislation and other laws that may be applicable.

More information on privacy can be found by Clicking Here.

Tools to Use

There are a number of tools that can be used to also help you manage your list. For more information on them, refer to the help sheet Extra Tools you can Use to Maintain Your List.