Be the Hero: DeDupe!

By | April 16, 2015

This week, my husband and I received solicitations from Geico. We received the identical solicitation — personalized with “Stewart! Stewart! Stewart!” and “Heidi! Heidi! Heidi” — to the identical address on the same day.

GeicoWhy Geico doesn’t de-dupe its mailing list, I’m not sure. Perhaps it can afford to mail solicitations to both husband and wife at the same address, but most companies can’t— and there is no reason to. Any third party can do it. The print provider can do it. The client can do it. Even Excel 2007 has a de-duping feature. (Click a cell, click on the data tab, then select “remove duplicates.”) In this case, de-duping based on the address column would have been sufficient.

Why would you want to encourage clients to print less? Isn’t the longer run more beneficial to you? Not when you are printing duplicates. With marketing budgets under extreme pressure and print struggling for justification in this era of digital marketing, the last thing you want is unnecessarily inflated print costs to put a negative spotlight on print.

Then there is the issue of response rates. If you mail 100,000 pieces and 10,000 of them are duplicates to the same household, you’ve just depressed the response rate artificially.  Let’s say this was a personalized mailing and the client got 5,000 responses. That’s a response rate of 5%. But if 10,000 of those were duplicates, the household response rate was actually 5.5%.

As a print provider, it’s in your best interest to optimize the value of print. That includes both cost management and boosting effectiveness. The last thing you want is bloated print costs and artificially depressed response rates that print look more expensive and less effective than it really is.

So be the hero — de-dupe!


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One thought on “Be the Hero: DeDupe!

  1. Mike Porter

    Right on target, Heidi.

    Every time I see duplicates in my own mailbox it makes me wonder about the planning process preceding the mailing. As you pointed out, de-duping is probably the easiest operation one can perform on a name and address file. While the definition of exactly what constitutes a duplicate can vary depending on the application, it is hard to imagine a scenario where mailing duplicate pieces is a good strategy.

    Ironically, print and mail service providers are working diligently to convince customers about the value of mail in a time when alternative communication channels are abundant. Mailing duplicates, however, reduces the ROI of a mailing campaign twice – by increasing the cost and reducing the response at the same time. Allowing duplicates to remain in the file damages the long term viability of the application.

    It seems to me that service providers should be including basic services like de-duping and address standardization into every quote. Anything that, if overlooked, could reduce the effectiveness of the mail shouldn’t even be an option for the customers to decline.

    Mailers should take your advice, be heroes, and do what is necessary to raise the value of every piece of mail they produce. It makes little sense to squeeze a few extra dollars from a campaign by printing unnecessary pieces if you’ll never get the job again due to the customer’s disappointment with the cost and response.

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