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Returned mail and packages means wasted time and money, as well as unsatisfied customers. This is why it is essential that businesses validate their customers’ mailing addresses before sending mail.
- The Data Warehousing Institute (TDWI) estimates that data quality problems associated with customer contact data alone cost U.S. businesses more than $600 billion a year in postage, printing and staff overhead.
- A study of 599 businesses by Pricewaterhouse Coopers led them to estimate that bad data is costing businesses $1.4 billion a year in accounting, billing and inventory snafus.
- 1998 - 9.3 billion pieces (4.71% of total mail volume)
- 2010 - 6.9 billion pieces (4.11% of total mail volume)
- This reduction, while significant, falls far short of previous Post Master General Jack Potter’s goal of reducing UAA mail by 50% by 2010.
- Periodicals mail, for example, has a UAA percentage of about 1.5%, Standard Mail usually runs about 6.75%.
Three ways USPS handles UAA mail
- Volumes of UAA mail that the USPS forwards or treats as waste both experienced declines, but the volume of UAA mail that the USPS returns to sender actually increased. [ Return 23% - Trash 59% - Forward 18%]
- Primary cause of UAA mail is consumer moves. Up to 40% of all moves are not reported to the USPS.
Value of Correcting your data
- 1,000,000 piece mailing x 5% (average UAA rate) is 50,000 pieces.
- 50,000 pieces x 29 cents / mailing = $14,500
- For a total value of data correction about $64,500
Bad Addressing Issues
- City, state, or ZIP Code™ missing or in conflict
- Missing or incorrect secondary address information
- Incorrect company legal name or reference name
- Extraneous information in name field
- Trailing space after name or address
- Dual names
- Misspelled words / Improper abbreviations
- Missing or wrong street, directional, prefix, suffix
- The USPS Generated over 300,000 tons Undeliverable Standard Mail and discarded lobby mail
- 300K tons = 66,500 elephants ( Average Elephant weighs 4.5 tons )
The Dead Letter Office
- United States Postal Service sorting center in Topeka, Kansas. Aka, the Dead Letter Office.
- Classification as a dead letter is one of the few instances where postal personnel are allowed to violate secrecy of correspondence, ostensibly to search for clues as to the letter's origin or destination.
- Some very valuable items have turned up in undeliverable mail, including a stolen painting by Marc Chagall, “Study for Over Vitebsk”
Bulk SMS text messaging
can drive revenue growth and brand engagement, according to new white paper from StrikeIron
. Mobile marketing
has revolutionized marketing due to its ability to be immediate, relevant and interactive. It has emerged as a valuable channel to improve brand awareness and enhance relationships with both new and existing customers.
Currently, there are 5.3 billion mobile subscribers, which is 78% of the world population. In the US alone, during the first half of 2011, the number of mobile devices in the U.S. rose 9%, causing wireless penetration to reach 104%. There are now more wireless devices being used in the U.S. than there are people.
SMS text messaging is the most widely used data application on the planet. The future of mobile will continue to be very bright. By 2012, an estimated 10 trillion text messages will be sent and delivered globally.
StrikeIron’s whitepaper “SMS: The King of Mobile Messaging” explains why retailers and other brands should consider mobile as a medium in their marketing mix. It discusses how SMS campaigns are effective in driving revenue and real results, as well as why now is the time to leverage SMS marketing.
For a copy of the report, go to http://offers.strikeiron.com/sms-whitepaper/.
StrikeIron was highlighted in a 451 Research Impact Report called "StrikeIron offers Web services for business use cases, focuses on data-quality roots." The report features StrikeIron's products, technology, customer/sales model, and competition. It also includes a SWOT analysis.
For a copy of the report, go to http://blog.strikeiron.com/451-research-download/
Email is a great way to communicate with customers and leads. However, email campaigns can be put at risk if a company’s database has out-of-date or inactive email addresses.
Sending promotional materials to invalid or disabled email addresses, if done frequently enough, can put a company on spam lists. This means that important communications to legitimate email addresses will land in the spam folder and likely go unread.
How can this happen? People change email addresses all of the time. They leave companies, or create temporary email addresses for certain purposes, or just simply start getting too much spam. Consequently, they create a new email address and disable the old one.
If you continue to send email to addresses that are not valid frequently enough, ISPs (Internet Service Providers) that host these email addresses will put you on their spammer list under the assumption that you are sending email to random addresses. They will then block all of the email you send in the future to any other email accounts they host. This can severely hamper your marketing and customer communication efforts, so maintaining clean email address databases is very important. Also, once you are on a spammer list, it can be very difficult to get off.
Simply checking the syntax (i.e. is it missing a period? Is it missing the @ symbol?) of email addresses is not enough. It's important to also know whether the email address can receive messages and not get bounced back. After all, the syntax of a disabled email address will likely be correct. This is where a sophisticated email address verification process that employs multiple algorithms and real-time validity mechanisms is extremely important and useful.
A scan of all email addresses prior to outbound communication (or at least at some regularly scheduled interval) to verify validity, and then removing those email addresses that are no longer receiving email, is now an imperative for an effective communications program.
In today's world of rapid communication, it takes the average person 90 minutes to respond to an email, but only 90 seconds to respond to a text message. For ease of use and convenience, people increasingly prefer SMS over other methods of communication. That's why businesses and institutions around the world are turning to bulk SMS marketing software to keep up with customers, leads and prospects.
In 2009, BMW Germany chose text messages as a way to encourage drivers to purchase snow tires for their cars. The campaign targeted BMW owners, inviting them to visit a dealership to purchase tires for the impending winter weather. That campaign yielded a 30 percent conversion rate, and $45 million in new business for BMW, an impressive result for a new initiative.
Another unique application of bulk text messaging is the Acuminder program, run by Johnson & Johnson's Acuvue contact lens brand. The company uses SMS to remind contact lens users when it is time to change their lenses. The program also sends SMS reminders about purchasing new boxes of contacts and about annual eye examinations.
What these two programs have in common is that they provide information SMS subscribers find helpful, making a conversion much more likely to occur. Not only did BMW remind drivers to purchase snow tires, but the company suggested the appropriate tires for each recipient's particular model of BMW.
Consider other ways businesses, agencies and institutions use SMS to stay connected:
Retailers and consumer-based companies, like Domino's Pizza and Starbucks, have used SMS effectively for ordering products and services while providing consumers with incentives, such as mobile coupons.
In September, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced two SMS smoking cessation programs, QuitNowTXT and SmokeFreeTXT, as part of the Text4Health initiative. The programs are aimed separately at adults and teens, leveraging information from those institutions' rich databases to support smoking cessation.
Text4baby, a government program for expectant mothers, has grown from a pilot program to a national one in just two years. Mothers who sign up for the service receive weekly updates on prenatal care and overall pregnancy health.
We love hearing about novel ways customers use our SMS Alerts and Notifications service to successfully raise the bar for customer service and marketing initiatives. Leave us a comment below and let us know how you’ve utilized SMS messaging in your marketing or customer service campaigns, or contact us to learn more.
We’ve covered the issues that spam presents for email marketing. Today we are going to go over spam’s legitimate cousin – graymail, or bacn ("bland automated community notification", pronounced like "bacon").
When it comes to email, there are many shades of gray. Essentially, graymail is email that people falsely mark as spam. Once upon a time you gave permission to join a company’s mailing list. For whatever reason, you no longer enjoy getting messages from this company and hit the 'spam' button. This is considered graymail, which includes legitimate newsletters, offers, or notifications that you just don’t want anymore.
How is graymail not spam? We will refresh by reminding you the definition of spam which is “unsolicited bulk email”. Unsolicited refers to the fact that the recipient did not grant verifiable permission for the message to be sent.
Graymail differs since it is email messages that subscribers opted-in. Two quick takeaways for email marketers:
- Set Expectations: When building your list, make sure subscribers are clear on what they are agreeing to. They should be well aware of what types of emails they’ll be receiving and how frequently.
- Clear Exit: Each email needs to have an opt-out. Make it easy for recipients to quickly unsubscribe.
Graymail has received significant attention since Hotmail declared war on graymail about two months ago. Hotmail estimates nearly 75% of what current customers identify as spam is actually graymail.
According to Hotmail, “The same message that one person thinks is ‘spam’ could be really important to another person. It’s not black and white.”
Many ESP’s like MailChimp can detect when email goes gray. If too many people mark your message as spam then ESP’s may disable your ability to send new campaigns. It brings up another key takeaway:
- Create Engaging Content: As a marketer, it is important to be well aware of the needs and wants of your customers. Emails need to resonate with your audience.
What do you think about graymail? Is it a serious threat to email marketers?
StrikeIron is having a special Twitter promotion that will give marketing experts the chance to win an Amazon® E-Gift Card. The social media contest will take place over the next three weeks.
Beginning on Friday, December 9, StrikeIron will ask for marketing-related tips based on that day’s question. This question will change each week during the promotion. The first person to Tweet and the best marketing tip selected by StrikeIron will win.
Each winner will receive an instant $20 Amazon E-Gift Card.
The Twitter contest will continue on Saturday, December 17 and Tuesday, December 27.
For more information about StrikeIron’s December Twitter contest visit http://offers.strikeiron.com/si-twitter-giveaway or follow us on Twitter @StrikeIron.
Since the 2009 passage of two landmark bills, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the health care industry has been quickly moving toward greater adoption of electronic medical and health records. Digital health records underscore the growing need for better patient contact information. Hospitals, clinics, physician offices and emergency departments need accurate and immediate information on their patients.
However, recent studies are mixed as to the accuracy, effectiveness, and security levels displayed by medical institutions during the migration to digital platforms and cloud computing. The situation is further complicated by the fact that data collection and information sharing must comply with electronic protected health information (ePHI), Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) security rules, and other federal regulations.
In a survey conducted between February and June, 56.9 percent of physician respondents said their practice uses electronic health records in some capacity other than for billing
That same survey reported that 52 percent of respondents said their practice was planning to apply for federal EHR incentive payments, up from 41 percent in 2010
Accuracy remains a critical problem. A Journal of Emergency Medicine study reported that just 42 percent of patients could successfully be contacted using phone numbers provided, with nearly 28 percent of those patients providing inaccurate or disconnected numbers.
StrikeIron's Contact Verification Suite for Health Care is the cure for inaccurate and insecure information. The suite was created to help health care providers maintain accurate patient contact information. It can be easily integrated into hospital or emergency room patient registration systems and back-office systems. Correct patient contact information is critical for billing collection and follow-up care.
Another key point of differentiation is StrikeIron's secure, transactional cloud architecture, which minimizes any chance of ePHI violations under HIPAA. StrikeIron’s functionality means health care institutions can verify instantly their patient's contact information. Through the suite, these organizations can verify patient’s addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses.
Here's how leading providers use StrikeIron's Contact Verification Suite for Health Care:
Patient contact information is created and validated during admittance, and the StrikeIron suite decreases the time needed to enter patient contact information and ensures the accuracy of the data entered, flagging any problems in real-time
The Contact Verification Suite for Health Care batch cleans existing databases to improve data quality, and maintains accurate patient contact information across different systems -- a key component of EMR functionality for sharing patient information between hospitals and physicians
The suite cleans data during system migrations and Master Patient Index (MPI) projects
Hospital administrators, who are already challenged on the technology front to implement ICD-10, electronic medical records systems, and pursue meaningful use certification, need easy, accurate and secure solutions in the wake of federal audits and mandates.
StrikeIron's Contact Verification Suite for Health Care makes the legislation work seamlessly for any institution that wants accurate, actionable address verification.
One question we get asked a lot is "how accurate is your Email Verification?".
The real answer depends on your email list, how fresh it is, where it was acquired, what the audience is, etc.
That being said, we just ran the first mailing in a new nurture campaign and had <.5% hard bounces after sending through our ESP!
StrikeIron, just like many of our customers, collects leads from a variety of sources including pay-per-click campaigns, organic search, social, tradeshows, partners, etc.
The last few months we have put a strong focus on ramping up our content generation and we recently started an email nurture campaign to share this interesting content with our leads and customers.
We collected our list from Salesforce and Hubspot then ran it through our Email Verification solution before uploading to our ESP. After sending we went back in and looked at our metrics.
The one that stood out was our very low bounce rate, <.5% for a list that had never been nurtured! This is substantially lower then research that MailChimp has done for acceptable bounce rates in various industries
We strive for better than 90% accuracy rate and are normally well above that goal (99.5% in this case!). That being said, we always offer Free Trials to prove to our customers that we are the most accurate Email Verification solution.
What do your bounce rates look like today? Tell us below (and sign up for our free trial to see how you can improve it!)
Data-as-a-service is changing the way marketers reach their customers. Information that was previously thought unattainable can now be obtained in real-time with a simple API call. User submitted data such as email addresses, home addresses, and phone numbers can be validated in real-time against public and private databases to make sure the data is real and accurate. Utilizing these services can help cut costs and boost revenue. Here are five tips for using data-as-a-service to increase revenue and cut costs:
1. Increase Revenue: Email marketing can be an effective way to boost revenue, but incorrect emails represent lost revenue potential. Verify emails as they’re entered into an online form then alert users if they enter an incorrect address. You can also batch verify emails before you send them in order to cut down on bounces and spam rates. StrikeIron’s email verification platform can make sure email addresses are correct and valid.
2. Cut Costs: Wrong addresses result in returned packages and unhappy customers, especially during the holidays. This can be costly. Verifying addresses can eliminate these costs. StrikeIron’s address verification service can help you capture correct addresses in real-time, or batch verify addresses prior to sending mail. Read our case study for more information. Read our case study about Griot's Garage.
Leading Automotive E-Commerce Retailer Saves 25% in Shipping- Case Study
3. Increase Revenue: 66.8% of mobile users send and receive text messages. Reminding mobile customers who have forgotten to renew their contact lenses, medications, subscriptions, or other services can result in huge revenue boosts. Use StrikeIron’s bulk text message service to remind customers it’s time to repurchase this month. To learn more about how the mobile marketing landscape is expanding, download our SMS White Paper.
4. Cut Costs: Sales teams waste a lot of time calling inaccurate phone numbers and that time costs your business. Verifying phone numbers in your CRM can cut this wasted time drastically. Use StrikeIron’s phone number validation to get the call right the first time and decrease the cost of wasted calls.
5. Increase Revenue: Direct mail campaigns can drive new purchases, but what if you only have your customers’ phone numbers? This information is available and can be appended easily if you have either your customers’ phone number or address. StrikeIron’s reverse address and phone append service can fill in missing phone or address information to give your campaigns more flexibility so all your offers can reach your customers.
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Have questions? We’re happy to help: (866) 562-3920