Launching a political marketing campaign is a lot like launching a product marketing campaign. Just as a product marketer needs to understand and identify their best customer, a campaign professional needs to do the same for their “best constituent.”
Database marketing can help narrow your focus and can be a tremendous vehicle to deliver compelling and motivational messaging. But you better be 100 percent certain that your data is accurate and deliverable. In a nutshell, you need a database capable of reaching those “best constituents” who will help get you elected.
If you haven’t put some basic data hygiene practices into place for your lists, here’s a primer on some basic concepts that will help ensure the health of your database:
CASS (Coding Accuracy Support System)
When you CASS certify the addresses in your database, all you are doing is certifying that the physical address exists. If you are doing a blanket mailing of residents—with no names associated with the communication—then this service will at least weed out the bad addresses to minimize returns. One thing it won’t do, however, is allow you to determine whether an individual resides at that location.
NCOA (National Change of Address)
Most people involved in any type of direct mail campaign understand that NCOA is a necessary data hygiene practice. However, the problems come into play because many people do not do an NCOA “scrub” often enough. At a minimum you should be doing a complete NCOA update every three months, with a monthly update really being your ultimate goal. I know that this service can get costly, but if you are having large quantities of mail coming back to you, the opportunity to get your communication read could have an even greater cost.
PCOA (Progressive Change of Address)
Let’s chat a bit about the people you could miss with a basic NCOA cleanse. Since many people are receiving their bills electronically they are avoiding foreclosure or creditors by going under the radar so to speak. Also, many people simply don’t bother to submit an NCOA to the post office, which means you could end up missing a lot with just a traditional NCOA . Progressive change of address matches up credit card data, utility turn ons and other data to associate a person with an address. This allows the opportunity to update your information and stay in contact with people who might otherwise become undeliverable records on your database.
Email Deliverability /Email Appends
You can “append” a postal list to gain associated email addresses and vice versa. However, when it comes to deliverability you need to remember that the average person has approximately four email addresses. So if you’re appending a postal list to gain emails—which one do you select?
It’s imperative that you understand what’s technically possible within the scope of your chosen append provider. How do they determine the most active address? If your append yields a large number of dormant or closed email accounts, you’ll have a high bounce/undeliverable rate, which bodes poorly for your spam rankings. It will also net you a lower than expected result.
Be certain that your provider engages in all CAN-Spam compliant policies such as doing a “permission pass” email. This serves two purposes. It weeds out undeliverable emails and it also helps you eliminate any recipients who will not want your communication messaging—and who could potentially hit that spam button.