Melissa Fuels Smarter Direct Mail Strategies

Melissa Team | 2021, Customers, Data Enhancement, Demographics, Direct Mail, E-Mail, eIDV, Email Append, Email Verification, Mailers, Mailing, Mailing & Shipping, NCOA, Press Release

Melissa Fuels Smarter Direct Mail Strategies that Recognize the Shift to Work-from-Home

Full contact intelligence acknowledges permanent changes in the definition of the workplace

Rancho Santa Margarita, CALIF – May 12, 2021 – Melissa, a leading provider of global data quality and address management solutions, today announced full contact intelligence tools and solutions for direct marketers, linking personal and professional data for a single contact. Melissa’s tools and services pair robust consumer data with a spectrum of third-party datasets, empowering marketers with identity cross-matching that closes gaps in data profiles and delivers a full, single view of the customer.

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Future Proof Your Returns Process for the Festive Period & Beyond

Melissa UK Team | Address Autocomplete, Address Validation, Duplicate Elimination, E-Mail, Ecommerce, eIDV, Geocoding, Global IP Locator, Identity Verification, United Kingdom

eCommerce has become a widespread buying option for most of us, especially from the effects from COVID which has forced many to further adapt to the option of buying online and being our only channel of purchasing from our favourite brands.

As everything around us becomes more digitalised, eCommerce has proven itself to be the way forward, but it comes with drawbacks. Firstly, and foremost, being able to touch the actual product, trying it on and having that ‘evaluation’ process instore. A lot of customers value this aspect which keeps our highstreets brick & motor stores valued by many. 

Secondly, the everyday problems that always occur; item does not fit, item does not look as shown on the screen or described, and the item is faulty or damaged.
Retailers are responsible for picking up the initial front-end costs if any returns need to be made from the customer, as a common part to an online stores policy, this gives consumers the confidence to shop freely and hassle-free on their website or online channels.

But what about the costs involved in upholding this promise? Let’s take a look at the main 5 below. 

Cost of a refund: Due to poor customer service or unhappy customers.

Shipping & HandlingWhen e-retailers offer free returns to entice customers to spend, this investment into the transportation cost is lost when products are sent back.

Logistics: One that is often overlooked by many but deems to have high expectations is the wait around delivery times. While same day, to express delivery options are always better than standard, make sure to upload that promise or customers will be quick to look for alternatives and refunds requests will be made.

Fraudulent Purchases:  Another underlying issue that is becoming more of a headache for e-retailers is fraudulent and fake purchases. Either from stolen contact details or payment methods, in most cases, the merchant will have to accumulate the return costs from this. 

Cost of Product DispositionsOne major consideration when items are returned is the inspection for resale, this tends to take up time and staff resources. Another point to consider is that retailers offering lengthy return periods face issues with products not being either liable for resale or not in fashion when it comes back, which results in the product being liquidated, which tends to be sold for less than its perceived value. 


A Returns Strategy that is Future Proof

We found that 82% of customers won’t return to make another purchase if an online store has an overly complicated or difficult return process, furthermore, we found that 72% of consumers say that they will spend more with an e-retailer that DOES have a hassle-free return process.
This exhibits that having to return unwanted goods is already a bother for us consumers, but for retailers, there is more work and cost involved. Retailers must understand the increasing expectations and the competitive landscape among standing out which is all about the customer, the convenience and the initiative’s that tailor to the overall experience.  

The above points show how easy it can be for e-retailers to amass more costs if a returns strategy isn’t up to date, and while we expect that most online stores have solutions in place already, with the growth of eCommerce, retailers must always be looking for more ways service this and implement more tools and practices to avoid the future mishaps that can cause underlying issues throughout.  

What better time to highlight this then the festive season, proven to be the busiest period for retailers, shortly followed by a barrage of returns. Digital commerce states that returns have increased January year to year by 26%

Customer Data Is Key

Putting data quality practices in place is key for retailers, although there are many surrounding use cases, future-proofing your return strategy is defiantly one that data quality tools can do.

We start with our first recommendation being an address autocomplete & lookup tool, this is vital for any retailer wanting to enhance their checkout process as it collects accurate address data at the point of entry. Whether its local or international customers, the address lookup tool will suggest a standardised, formatted and verified postal address to ensure timely deliveries are met anywhere in the world while making sure every address that enters your system is a verified address giving reassurance of the delivery reaching the customer.

Our second recommendation is the use of geocoding & location intelligence, this enhancement can add latitude and longitude coordinates to a shopper’s verified address to pinpoint exact distances from the nearest distribution centre or warehouse which tailors towards being able to offer same day or next day delivery option.

Much like eCommerce giants Amazon, being able to offer more convenience will give you that edge over your competition.

The third recommendation is achieving single customer view (SCV), having that one golden record that gives a full 360 view on a customer enables better segmentation to build profiles based on past purchases & buying habits, engagement though various channels, feedback and more. This can be important when evaluating those ‘high-risk customers’ which is a customer that is more likely to return a product.

Deduplicating your data will also clear up any clustered or partial bits of data that may be scattered throughout various departments. This is usually caused by the same person inputting different customer information when engaging with a company through different channels.
Having that initial single customer view throughout a whole organisation will also allow better efficiency between departments, ie; marketing & promotions being able to quickly offer a 20% voucher to a customer if the logistics team see that their order has been delayed.

Our last recommendation is knowing who your customer is (KYC), being able to verify the identity of any person behind a purchase from your online store will shield your business from fraudulent activity. An issue that is become more common as digitalisation grows upon us. 

Using a trusted data partner that can access trusted reference data like electoral rolls, credit agencies and other watchlists will be useful if you are selling high valued products to a particular sector or particular audiences. The use of cross-validating a customer contact data such as proof of address to show that a person lives at that address provided along with email and phone to verify that those two elements are live, callable, contactable and not fake will protect the merchant from any potential fraudulent traps. 

Also, we have found the enrichment tool of IP location being a useful barrier in protecting an e-retailer. Being able to see where your visitors are coming from and if a person who says that live in Manchester wanting to purchase high valued goods but showing an IP location in Poland can give clarity to this type of fraudulent activity.


Yield Minimal Returns

eCommerce continues to grow and is becoming ever more relied on year to year. This tends to bring most retailers to the primary realisation that customer demand will follow from this. Needing to tailor to the increasing expectation, a retailer’s return strategy will be a key asset in setting them apart from the competition. Applying data-driven practices will vastly work towards fine-tuning their future return process that will ultimately yield minimal returns and uphold those loyal customers and the repeat profit they bring.


Data Cleansing – What You Need to Know

Melissa UK Team | Address Quality, Clean Suite, Data Audit, Data Cleansing, E-Mail, Email Verification, Phone Verification

Today, organisations heavily rely on data for everyday business activities.
This makes data cleansing a critical requirement for anyone who has a database, so their organisation can yield better results across all operations.

Following are some core benefits of cleansing your data

1. A complete, accurate and real-time view on your database

Up to 30% of a database can go stale within a year, due to people changing address, jobs, emails, and simply updating their status. This causes data to become obsolete, which can lead to numerous problems which can spread through multiple departments and other data chains; impacting on marketing, engagement, business intelligence and overall business efforts.

By cleansing your database, you filter out any bad data in your systems to give a clearer view of prospects and customers.

2. Improved targeting for better conversion rates

As your database significantly improves so will your marketing efforts, as there’s no bounce backs from emails, or incorrect addresses to hamper communications with your prospects. Also, by matching and merging records you won’t be wasting time and money on sending out marketing material to stale and duplicate prospects.

And when you have clean reliable data you get a clearer picture of your customers, leading to better segmentation, and delivery of a single customer view.

3. Better ROI and saved costs

Consider the 1-10-100 rule, that it costs on average £1 to verify the accuracy of a record at point of entry, £10 if it needs to be cleaned and £100 if nothing is done – not including the cost of mis-deliveries of shipments, direct mail, missed opportunities and undetected fraud.

Businesses with clean, up to date and verified data on the other hand can expect to drive a standout customer journey, leading to better sales, cross and up-sell, and stronger revenue streams.

Which one would you prefer?

4. Positive brand value & reputation

A company will deliver and maintain better communications, and therefore reputation with its prospects, with clean data. It enables them to be more engaging across various channels, offer tailored promotions, speedy deliveries, and provide value across a range of systems and practices, such as at the point of sale. It also helps them to elevate customer retention efforts to meet the future customer expectations.

5. Putting together a data cleansing strategy

To achieve any of the above you must put together a data cleansing strategy. A great starting point is to analyse your data. Which departments are lacking the most clean data? Where is revenue being lost? And are there certain aspects of your database that are causing overlaying problems? It can sometimes be hard to spot issues, so take some time to do this.

Following is list of common problems a database can have:

  • Bad address data which causes mis-deliveries, logistical issues, and poor customer service
  • Fraudulent activity from not having a verified and up to date address, email and phone number, and its impact on delivering a single customer view
  • Duplicates in your database resulting in lower accuracy and wasted efforts and costs
  • Gaps in your data caused by incomplete records, like missing phone numbers, email, address and even IP
  • How standardised is your data? Punctuation & abbreviations must be in the right place i.e. in the spelling of emails or addresses, and always consider international formatting rules for postal regulations
  • Prevent a single customer view or 360-view of your customers
  • High bounce rates and blacklistings in your email campaign efforts

As the next step, we would recommend requesting a data audit from a data cleansing specialist. Ideally, it should be one that offers a complimentary service that really digs down on gaining vital insight on your data. Feedback should then be given on the ins and outs of the database, and advice on how to get the most out of it. Data quality solutions should also be recommended to implement into their current systems (see our data audit link above for more information).

Always remember that cleansing your database is not a one-off process. You should always be keeping tabs on your data, making sure it’s providing fulfilment at every point in the chain to save time and effort. It’s always best to take advantage of the SaaS services a data quality company like Melissa offers. Such a service ensures that your data is clean, verified and up to date as it enters your systems. It also automatically prevents your data from going stale each year, saving you money and giving back better ROI in the long term.