Moving house and changing your address at all the various institutions which have your details is hard work – I have done it recently and it’s not much fun. The process is made all the more frustrating when you have to consider all the various member programs or loyalty cards you’ve ever signed up for that send you a piece of communication once in a blue moon. In trying to save the new tenants of my old address years of annoying incorrectly addressed mail, I endeavoured to make the address change as encompassing as possible. What this whole process highlighted to me was, no-one seems to update their databases any more! I encountered people who still had my address on their records of when I still lived with my parents (which was nearly 10 years ago!)

I can’t stress enough that having a database is really important. However – it is useless unless you update it regularly. You need to ‘clean’ your database at least once a year, regardless of whether you communicate with your database by mail or email. Look out for the classic database error – a Mrs incorrectly identified as a Mr, or vice versa. Keep an eye out for double ups, spelling errors, and also those ‘bounces’ or ‘return to senders’ that may also arise (ensure they are amended and not ignored). (By the way, our e-newsletter system Mailbox does this automatically for you). If your regular mail-outs or email communication are riddled with errors, this is all people will concentrate on, and I guarantee your letter/email will be instantly trashed.

If you have some form of online loyalty program or member system, it’s essential that you send your database an annual reminder to update their details, which they can easily ‘skip’ if their details are the same. I have loyalty cards for both local and large retail outlets that I signed up for in a whim to take advantage of some special deal, which a) I don’t know whether I’m still a member because they don’t communicate with me at all or b) still send me communication even though I am not an active member and I either don’t know how to or can’t be bothered cancelling it. Let me ask you this – doesn’t a loyalty card that doesn’t reward loyalty, kind of defeat the purpose?

Finally – if you have an advanced database which segregates subscribers into several different groups, ensure the right people are in the right groups! There’s nothing more frustrating than receiving a special offer or upgrade or similar that is completely irrelevant to you. Or, worse still, receiving continued marketing for something you have already implemented or purchased.

We have a saying here at The Box, ‘he with the biggest database wins’. Well I’d like to propose a slight modification to that mantra: ‘he with the biggest up-to-date database wins’!

So it’s time to get cleaning people!