Your data needs a regular workout | YM Group

Learn how to keep your data fit and healthy

Lockdown has resulted in 74% of Britons saying they are exercising more. With gyms closed and many of us working from home, even the most basic amount of movement is a lot harder to achieve. However we know that exercise makes us feel healthier and mentally more alert. Thank goodness for Joe Wicks (other online training workouts are available).

The same principle applies to the data in your mailing files.

Making sure data is fit and healthy will reduce your postal bill and make sure every mailer counts. All databases degrade over time so ensure you understand the different processes you might need to ensure a fit and healthy mailing database. It’s worth considering having your data cleansed by the mailing house immediately prior to mailing as this captures the most up to date suppressions rather than having it done weeks / months earlier.

There are two aspects to cleansing your data: removing records that won’t reach your target and improving the data you have. We’ve listed these below to make you aware of each aspect of getting your data match-fit:


The initial aspect of any data hygiene plan is removing those records that are at best a waste of marketing budget and at worst will upset and offend. The following is a checklist of points to consider along with detail of how they help you remove those records:

  1. Remove anyone who has explicitly asked not to be mailed

Some customers may have asked you to remove them from the marketing mailing list whilst accepting transactional communications. Additionally, some customers could have requested that your company does not send them communication of any kind. These contacts should be held on an internal suppression list and removed from your mailing file.


  1. Remove anyone who has explicitly asked to receive no mail from any company

As part of good industry practice, the DMA operate the Mailing Preference Service (MPS). This service holds the details of any individual who requests to be included on an industry-wide list to receive no direct mail from any organisation. It is good practice to identify and remove these records, unless they have explicitly opted in to receive mailings from your company.


  1. Remove deceased records

Over 500,000 people die each year (Office National Statistics) and no organisation wants to include those details in a mailing campaign. There are a number of registers for deceased records:

    • Mortascreen – Wilmington Millennium
    • The Bereavement Register – The ReAD Group
    • National Deceased Register – The Ark
    • Mortality – Experian

Each collects data in a slightly different way and allows you to flag and remove those records from your mailing file.

  1. Remove individuals who have moved house

While the average will vary, approximately 7 million people move house each year. Ensuring your customer records are up to date is essential to reach the right contact. There are several databases which allow you to remove those records of customers who have moved:


    • National Change of Address (NCOA) – Royal Mail
    • Goneaway Suppression (GAS) – The ReAD Group
    • Absolute Movers – Experian
    • Re-mover – The Ark

Again, each collects the data in a different way to give you the best available data on those who have changed their address.


  1. Check for expletives

A simple healthcheck will also make sure there are no ‘rude’ words accidentally included in your mailing file. Although we do our best to find expletives, people are increasingly creative so we can’t guarantee to find them all – this is why it’s important to sanitise or validate input gathered from your company website or any other data collection method.



The quality of your data can also be improved by running it against specific data files that update the address. This can help you save money and improve your targeting but care needs to be taken with this data. Any additions or updates to a record could be problematic and should be carefully considered:


  1. Ensure your data matches the Post Office Address File (PAF)

The Royal Mail holds the definitive list of ‘correct’ addresses for the UK and this is the list used to create the documentation which ensures your mail reaches its destination. You will see on your reports how many of your records match this file and qualify for the maximum postal discount and how many are non-compliant. Improving the number of matching records, increases your postal discount, providing an immediate cost saving.

However, bear in mind that the customer may have a ‘favourite’ version of their address and may complain if you use the official one rather than their preferred version.

  1. Update customer addresses where they have moved house

When customers move house, they may neglect to inform you directly – moving house means lots to do – so consider using the datasets available to help you update the record. There are several files for this purpose:

    • NCOA Update – Royal Mail
    • GAS REaCtive – The REaD Group
    • Absolute Contacts – Experian

Again, be aware that by updating the record, you will now be sending information for some customers to their new address. However the internal systems in your organisation may only hold their previous address, which could create a number of communication problems if the customer gets in touch or wants to take up an offer.

A basic data hygiene check is common sense. You’ll save money by reducing waste and could reduce your postage bill. Lettershop provide data healthchecks with simple, easy-to-understand reporting. You only pay when you use the report for removing or improving records and the benefits usually outweigh the costs. To get your data healthcheck now contact or call 0113 231 1113.

Categories: Blog