When MDM consolidation is too successful

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GDPR compliance should mean revisiting--and cleansing--your data files

Want to know the main reason you're liable to run afoul of the new European Union General Data Protection Regulation? Because your Master Data Management view of data across applications and analytics may have been just a little too successful.


Companies that have been extra diligent in that good old "360-degree view of the customer" have a master file chock-full of customer information, all of which is consolidated, but much of which is out of date and duplicated across systems.


And that means your MDM processes are probably filled with rule-busting red flags, courtesy of the new GDPR regulations.


Let's unpack this a bit, examine the key regulatory changes, and see where you're probably at risk.


The EU's GDPR, which becomes effective May 25, addresses consumer concerns about safeguarding digital information, regardless of where in the world it's stored, and erasing it when requested. If you've ever done business with people in any EU country, their information is in your CRM system, marketing automation, or master customer information file.




What data are we talking about here? Just about anything, which pretty much summarizes your potential problem.


Newly protected data not only includes name, address, email, and phone, but also photos, bank details, social networking posts, and individual computer IP addresses. CRM and marketing automation systems normally include birthdays, payment methods, URL visits, and shopping habits, regardless of whether the information is about a person's private, professional, or public life, and those are GDPR-protected as well.


Running afoul of the GDPR is no small matter. It can result in fines of up to 20 million euros--roughly $24.5 million--or alternately 4 percent of a company's entire annual global revenue.


On the upside, the Euro folks are more serious than ever about their citizens' data and privacy.


On the downside, trying to identify your organization's relevant exposure can become an intolerable burden.


While the complete GDPR is extensive, a key element is Article 17, detailing consumers' "Right to Erasure." GDPR requires you to erase any EU citizen information upon request "without undue delay," and with only a handful of exceptions.


Surveys indicate that this Right to Erasure is the most challenging requirement for businesses. And this is where your Master Data Management projects are most vulnerable.


The problem is that data management processes that supposedly have merged siloed files across applications are geared toward inclusion, not efficiency.


It's likely you've got tons of duplications--numerous iterations of the same person, each containing slightly different fields, conflicting data, and even errors from one entry to another. Small wonder: Data entries are made individually over years and via different processes.


Even if entries are flagged, typical MDM false negative results mean truly duplicated records will remain behind, and uncorrected. After all, nobody wants to run the risk of erasing a unique and valid contact.




Consider: You receive a request to have an individual's data erased, you think you've  complied, but in reality have overlooked iterations across applications that are of the exact same contact.


The result: A regulatory nightmare and a potential financial disaster.


What's a chief data officer to do?


First, start with an internal audit conducted by Melissa, one that goes far beyond any Privacy Impact Assessment process you may already have in place. A thorough top-down approach will uncover problems and trends, determine your true risk, and provide recommendations for redress.


But you'll want to go further.


Melissa technology tackles databases to standardize, correct, complete, and verify customer records. If there are any remaining identify questions about who's who in your database, and if any duplications continue to exist, Melissa employs matching engines to resolve them.


You've done your best to assure that 360-degree view of the customer through optimal MDM processes, and congratulations to you. Now, take the next step to protect your company from regulatory snafus.


To ensure you're compliant with the new GDPR regulations, call Melissa.

 91% of people actually like receiving promotional emails - an optimistic statistic if you're an email marketer. So why is it, most email campaigns yield extremely low open rates, click through rates (CTR) and conversions?


As a marketer myself, I'm constantly perplexed. Even after tireless research on new email trends and trying every 'how to' on sneakily coaxing prospects and clients into opening emails, I'm never satisfied with the results. Are you? If you're anything like me, you want more and expect better than the average open rate of 16.9% or CTR of 7.1%. And, who could blame you?


If you're looking for fresh tips and tricks for more clicks and higher conversions, check out this video: Become a Jedi Master of Email Marketing: 10 Tips & Tricks for Clicks. Instead of the typical 'how to email' tips, you'll discover new ways for implementing data-driven strategies to get the results you're looking for. Jedi Master of Email Marketing, Luis Hidalgo, gives 10 tips for deliverability, enrichment, personalization and geotargeting.


Watch now - you won't be disappointed! 

Mailing List Accuracy Becomes More Stringent

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Mailers face additional penalties in not meeting new Post Service regulations requiring valid, deliverable addresses


The newest wrinkle from the U.S. Postal Service impacts businesses with substantial mass mailing efforts. New Mail Update regulations are intended to limit an unacceptable percentage of wrong addresses, which are costly for everyone concerned.

The key word here is "unacceptable."

Be warned: The threshold at which the Postal Service measures adequate mailing-list accuracy and the way it does it are changing dramatically.

Bad addresses already are costing businesses millions. When a letter or bill, package or flat, gets bounced as undelivered as addressed (UAA), the business and its mail house are on the hook not only for penalties, but also for poor customer communications and marketing effectiveness, lagging account receivables, fewer sales, and more unhappy customers.

As for the Postal Service, it doesn't want to eat the cost of hauling the bad stuff back to the mail facility, sorting it again, mailing it back to the mailer, and so on. It's no wonder the Postal Service has been levying compensatory costs on mailers with bad databases.

Now, as of March 1, 2018, that cost promises to become increasingly onerous--or shall we say increasingly motivating.

The old rules mandated that addresses be screened via a machine with the ungainly name of Mail Evaluation Readability Lookup Instrument. It's acronym, MERLIN, implies a certain magical ability to detect bad addresses, but in reality all these machines have been doing was randomly checking a portion of a submitted mailing list. If a generous 30 percent or more of that sample was faulty, the mailer was hit with a fee of 7 cents per piece for the percent of bad addresses above that threshold.


Now, the Postal Service will be leveraging its Intelligent Mail barcode (IMb) technology to check every single address a mailer submits in bulk for accuracy, not just a random sample.

Further, the allowable threshold of 30 percent of bad addresses is history. Now, if only 0.5 percent of addresses are faulty, failing to mirror Postal Services change of address (COA) records beyond a certain cutoff point, the mailer is hit with an 8 cent fee on each bad address beyond this vastly more stringent threshold.

The potential for thousands of dollars in penalties due to out-of-date mailing lists is now very real.


What are direct mailers to do to achieve 99.5 percent address list accuracy?

First, they should get current with all change-of-address requests ... if they can. Each year some 40 million Americans move, and only a portion bother to submit COAs, and those that are filed only gradually find their way into the Postal Service's system.

Further, mailers should assure that all addresses match official Postal Service formats of street address, apartment number, accurate city name, and the like. It's amazing how often an addressee himself doesn't know what town he lives in ("Is it Hollywood or Los Angeles?"), and these sorts of things can easily gum up a mailing list.

Yes, there are some Postal Service aids, but they're not particularly user friendly. One service allows mailers to electronically receive change-of-address information after a mailing--a little late to avoid penalties, wouldn't you say?--while another provides a database of 160 million "permanent" change-of-address records.

A "permanent" database? I saw you smile!

Fortunately there are easier, more accurate, and less bothersome solutions. 


·         Melissa's SmartMover cloud service provides fast, easy change-of-address processing for U.S. and international addresses that are accurate in real time. With SmartMover, direct mailers can be assured of staying on the right side of the Postal Service's new Move Update and COA regulations, while increasing customer lifetime value and mailing ROI.

·         Melissa's Address Verification Service verifies addresses in the U.S. and worldwide, also in real-time. We're talking complete, standardized, and accurate USPS addresses while correcting errors and adding in missing components like postal codes.

·        And Melissa's Personator cleans, verifies, standardizes, and completes names and addresses (as well as phone numbers and emails if you need those), matching names to addresses to authenticate the identity of a customer.


Staying on the right side of the U.S. Postal Service's new Move Update regulations is good business for direct mailers and mail houses. It avoids costly penalties while assuring optimal mailing accuracy and customer satisfaction.


And you'll want to do it with a partner who's the leader in data accuracy: Melissa.


How to Minimize the Effects of Postal Rate Increases

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It is that time of year again, the annual postal rate increase. There will be a rate increase averaging 1.9% for Mailing Services products and an average increase of 3.9% for most Shipping Services products (3.9% for Priority Mail and an average of 0.8% for Priority Mail Retail) starting Sunday, January 21.


The Mailing Services price changes include:




Letters (1 oz.)   

49 cents

50 cents

Letters additional ounces    

21 cents

21 cents

Letters (metered)

46 cents

47 cents

Outbound International Letters (1 oz.) 



Domestic Postcards   

34 cents

35 cents


The domestic Priority Mail Flat Rate Retail price changes include:




Small Flat Rate Box



Medium Flat Rate Box



Large Flat Rate Box



APO/FPO Large Flat Rate Box



Regular Flat Rate Envelope



Legal Flat Rate Envelope



Padded Flat Rate Envelope




Although $0.01 may not seem like much of a price spike, the money adds up! Now, companies mailing to 20,000 individuals will incur an additional postage charge of $200 per mailing. Organizations that mail conservatively (let's four times a year) will have to budget for an extra $800 in postage, per year, for that same mailing.



So how can you minimize the hit? Here are a few quick-fixes to help you save money:

1.      Clean your data - eliminate unnecessary waste from duplicate mailings or UAA mail

2.      Suppress your list(s) - remove individuals that match to one or all of these suppression files: Do Not Mail, Deceased or Inmate

3.      Presort your mailing lists - get the best postage rate when you mail more efficiently

With the deadline fast approaching, now is the time to figure out how you will be prepared for these changes.  Fortunately, we've got the perfect tools to help you prep and presort your mail effortlessly. Whether you are looking to clean your data, suppress your list or presort your mail, we've got you covered.


Here's how each of our solutions can assist you with incorporating the new postal rate changes into your business' mailing process:  


MAILERS+4 - CASS™, PAVE™ and SERP Certified™ Postal Automation Software will:

  • Reduce UAA mail by CASS and NCOALink® processing your mailing lists, updating outdated addresses, and verifying addresses are valid and complete
  • Add missing data like ZIP codes, carrier routes, delivery points, and suite and apt. numbers to ensure accurate and speedy deliveries
  • Eliminate duplicates to save on costs associated with waste
  • Presort your mailing lists to mail more efficiently and less expensively


MAILERS Online - The Cloud-based PAVE certified Postal Software alternative will:

  • ·         Standardize, correct, and verify address data to ensure deliverability & qualify for letter and flat-sized presort and automation rates
  • ·         Presort your mailing lists to mail more efficiently and less expensively
  • ·         Eliminate duplicate records in single mailing list to save on costs
  • ·         National Change-of-Address process your mailing list to eliminate mailing to the wrong address
  • ·         Add intelligent Mail barcodes for additional tracking


Presort Object - Our on-premise API solution that supports high-volume mailings will:

  • USPS PAVE Gold Certified for First Class, Marketing Mail (Standard Mail), nonprofit letters, cards, flats; automation, non-automation, non-machinable; Standard Carrier Route; and destination discounts for SCF, NDC and DDU
  • Provide palletization option for First Class and Marketing Mail for essential efficient processing of high volume mailings
  • Full Service Intelligent Mail® compliant and Mail.dat - generates iMB barcodes and all reports and e-documents necessary
  • Include a free Mail.dat License Code

Engage Potential Donors, Voters & Supporters with Text

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What's the fastest way to reach supporters? Research shows texting is the fastest way to reach your potential voters and supporters with messages opened within minutes.  Almost 90% of adults in the US have a mobile phone and about 77% own a smartphone, according to Pew Research.  You can use text messaging to drive voter registration and organize rallies, fundraising and surveys.


Key Benefits:

Close to 100% open rate - opened within minutes
Easily direct supporters to your website or donation page
Reach younger voters - they send and receive an average of 90 texts per day
Most cost-effective way to reach your audience


Melissa Direct's mobile phone database can be filtered down by age, income, gender, marital status, homeownership, home value, address type, presence of children and many more! Plus, it is updated every month and is CASS™ (Address Check) and NCOALink® (National Change of Address) certified. 


Email Marketing is an important tool for any business but it should be implemented with care and caution. Once you're blacklisted, you not only have a huge headache to deal with, but you risk tarnishing your company's reputation or brand. 


The frightening idea - it's easy to get flagged as a spammer regardless of the legitimacy of your email. Even some of the best marketing "buzz" words, if used in email, could flag you as a spammer. Follow the guidelines below to help protect your business and minimize your risk of getting blacklisted.


1.      Avoid including attachments. Not only will you get the attention of spam blocking organizations, but your email will most likely get filtered by the user's spam control tool, too.

2.      Make sure to offer an opt-out or unsubscribe option in your email. It's not only ethical, it's the law!

3.      Your subject line should avoid "spammy" words like free, discount, % off, cash, win, etc. These words are normally flagged as spam.

4.      Always follow CAN-SPAM laws. You can find the guidelines here: https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/can-spam-act-compliance-guide-business

5.      Ask your subscribers to add you to their address book - its a good practice to maintain.

6.      Avoid too many graphics.

7.      Continually remove emails that are invalid (hard bounces).  You might get the attention of spam-tracking organizations if you continually send to invalid email addresses.

8.      Check your blacklist status on a regular basis. Here's a services you can use: https://sendgrid.com/blog/blacklisted-check-7-popular-blacklists-keep-reputation-intact/

Direct Mail: The Walking Dead

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Written by Abby Telleria

Like a Zombie, direct mail keeps coming back - and still delivers. A jaw-dropping 65% of consumers made a purchase as a direct result of direct mail. That's right, direct mail. The thing you probably presumed to be as dead as a doornail is still very much alive!  

In the days of mad tweeting, blogging, Facebooking - it's hard to believe that what's still considered a "dinosaur" in the marketing world by some - is basically gold sitting in your customer's mailbox.

According to a survey conducted by Target Marketing Magazine, direct mail is the one channel that delivered the strongest ROI for customer acquisition for B2C marketers, and scored the highest for customer contact and retention.

In fact, J.C. Penny decided to bring back its print catalog after being dormant for five years. According to an article on NPR, a spokesperson for the retail giant says the catalog is making a comeback because of its popularity with customers and its ability to drive traffic to its online site and its stores.

So why not add direct mail to your online engagement strategy? With email inboxes full and traditional mail volumes down, you have an even greater chance of getting your message noticed by your prospects and customers.

According to a report from Compu-Mail, response rates for direct mail are at 5.1%, a record high since 2003. That's 2 ½ times the response rate of email, paid search, online display and social media combined. As for our younger generation, they've been an exception to that rule (aren't they always?). Response rates with 18-21 year olds are actually much higher - 12.4% to be exact.

And, while direct mail costs may be higher, Direct Marketing Association (DMA) reported that the cost per lead and cost per sale across direct mail, email and paid search are about equal.

Simply put - people still genuinely like to receive and read mail.


Direct Mail with a Digital Twist

By integrating direct mail into your omni-channel efforts, you can get more eyes on your company's brand, and then drive home your message with a follow-up email campaign or digital messaging. It's a one-two-punch.

Compu-Mail also states that when direct mail is combined with digital ads, the conversion rate is 28% higher; and, that marketing campaigns that used direct mail with one or more digital medium experienced 118% lift in response compared to using direct mail only.

According to a study by Harvard Business Review, when both email and direct mail are used together, the response rate is 25%, a huge uptick from solo email or solo direct mail campaigns.

And the same goes on an international scale. A study by Royal Mail's research agency, Quadrangle, reports larger increases in customer engagement through the use of both mediums together. The report states 13% uplift on driving consumers to a website; 22% uplift on a purchase; and 34% uplift on using a coupon.

Without a doubt, while both mediums are effective on their own, using them together as part of an overall integrated campaign can significantly boost customer loyalty and ultimately, drive more sales.


The Future of Direct Mail

New and innovative technologies allow marketers to add more of the wow factor to their direct marketing campaigns and actually extend its shelf-life. For example, most marketers combine their direct mail efforts with mobile phone technology such as QR codes or SnapTag (a barcode similar to QR codes) to direct consumers to landing pages with relevant information.

Some take it a step further with the use of augmented reality (AR), which allows marketers to tie in a direct mail piece with video or computer-generated 3D graphics to improve engagement through a more personalized and compelling digital experience - think virtual shopping trip or game.

Another technology - near field communication (NFC), the wireless touch-to-transfer technology - will help direct mail remain a relevant marketing vehicle in years to come. It would enable marketers to deliver content through an NFC chip, so when a user touches a smartphone to marketing collateral - there's an instant connection.

Direct mail will continue to be a workhorse for generating leads, traffic and sales, while your other media will help drive interest and awareness.


Getting Started

So, whether you currently use direct mail or are considering it, contact us to learn how our tools can help you get the most out of your campaigns. A successful direct mail effort starts with a clean and up-to-date mailing list, personalizing your mail and knowing exactly who to target with valuable demographic information. 

New Solar Installation Powers Massive Data Center

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Solar Installation 1.jpg

With 10,000 worldwide customers to keep up and running and incomprehensible proportions of sensitive data to protect, we sought the most energy efficient solution - the power of the sun. The 115,050-watt solar power system will now power our massive data centers, all the while preventing 2,520 metric tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere over the next 20 years!

solar installation 2.jpg
Savvy Investors Found a Way to Get Unlimited Access to Data on More Than 120 Million Properties and Its Owners with TopConnector App


There is huge amount of property information anyone can view on Zillow, Realtor or on most real estate agents' websites. But those portals do not make it easy for investors who don't have a real estate license to research all the properties in an area or to gather information on property owners. 


That's exactly why so many real estate investors use the TopConnector app to get unlimited and unrestricted access to property and owner data. Investors like having their own access to data instead of constantly seeking friendly agents to work with.


When it comes to doing area research - whether you're analyzing property values, looking for owner info or searching for comps - nothing beats the TopConnector app. The number of properties that can be researched is simply unparalleled in the mobile app world. 


Whether you are a seasoned investor or just starting out, TopConnector can help you quickly and easily research all properties, in any neighborhood, nationwide. Now you can get all the data you need on any property you want, including owner info, property lines and comps.


TopConnector App gives you:


1. Unlimited access to data on more than 120 million properties and its owners

  • Residential, commercial and off-market properties
  • Property value, size, age, details and property lines
  • Tax, last sale date & price, mortgage and more

2. Property owner info

  • Owner name
  • Absentee or corporate owners
  • Mailing address
  • Phone number (if available)
  • Key demographics
  • Length of time in home

3. Commercial building statistics

  • Building's owner
  • Business tenants
  • Business owner, key executive, contact person, contact phone and key sales figures

4. Comps

  • Properties of the same type and size
  • Recently sold
  • Located within one mile of the subject property


Not a Realtor? No problem! Put TopConnector app into your pocket and enjoy your data!


More info:  www.topconnectorapp.com


Download from the App Store: http://topconnector.us

Making Data Work for Your Geospatial Challenges

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Anyone who has looked at flood data knows that FEMA is not the answer. It's not that FEMA doesn't try to accurately map what they believe to be floodable areas. It's that FEMA is politically driven. As a city, you do not have to participate in FEMA mapping. Why would you not participate? Well, properties in flood zones tend to have lower valuations, and lower valuations tend to generate lower taxes. Even as an individual you can exempt yourself with a LOMA. A LOMA establishes a property's location in relation to the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA).  LOMAs are usually issued because a property has been inadvertently mapped as being in the floodplain, but it is actually on natural high ground above the base flood elevation.

Melissa customer wanted to sell flood insurance to prospects that were in flood zones but not likely to flood and not in flood zones but likely to flood. They had three primary targets, properties in 100 year flood zones that were not likely to flood, properties in a 500 year flood zone that were not likely to flood, and properties in FEMA minimal risk zones that were likely to flood. The customer realized that they needed a way to understand the current FEMA designation for the target properties but also have an independent flood likelihood evaluation of the property. For them, we created a sample set of customers utilizing HazardHub risk data that looked something like this:


Then they created a targeted list by selecting B and C score prospects from the 100 year and 500 year flood plains and D and F score prospects from the minimal risk flood zones. This scoring and these selections are available nationwide and provided the customer with the ability to selectively target the types of customers that they were interested in from a risk exposure perspective. While this example discusses flood, this works for any natural hazard where properties are exposed, both personal property as well as commercial property.

If you have data challenges to solve, perhaps the Melissa team can offer the location intelligence solution needed. Melissa supports geospatial professionals in the goal of mapping innovation in location-based services, analytics and decision-making powered by location intelligence. We provide a wealth of location data enrichments including global geocoding to derive latitude and longitude from an address, and geo-enriched data for IP addresses. We offer other types of specialized data including U.S. property and mortgage data (type and number of buildings on a parcel, property age, construction, sales value, and more), demographics (household income, marital status, residence data, credit information, and more), and risk and natural hazard information (wind, water, ground and wildfire) that can be linked to location data to reveal relationships and trends. Our data feeds easily into popular data visualization and analytics platforms for ease of use and up-to-the minute accuracy. When you need to solve global challenges with geospatial technology, turn to Melissa - your single, trusted source for authoritative reference data. 

Written for Directions Magazine - Header Image via @directionsmag