What is Date of Death Data & Why Is It Useful?

Melissa Team | Direct Mail, Global Data Quality, Identity Verification, Mailing, Mailing Lists, Personator | , , , ,

Death-related data obtained from Social Security records, obituaries and other sources can be used for many purposes. When it comes to direct marketing, verifying death dates and removing deceased individuals from your mailing lists can benefit your business in several ways.

Protect Your Brand Image & Maintain Customer Respect

No matter how up-to-date your database is, there’s a good chance at least a few contacts on your mailing list are deceased. By identifying individuals who should be removed from your mailing list, you can more effectively target those who are able to utilize your goods and/or services.

Additionally, having to explain why marketing mail was sent to a deceased individual could prove to be an awkward situation for your business. Let’s say you’ve just launched a marketing campaign where a significant percentage of your mailings are unknowingly sent to deceased individuals. Not only does this make your company look bad from an organizational perspective, but you risk further damaging your brand image and upsetting customers by sending mail to a member of their household who has passed away. A deceased suppression service can help you avoid these sensitive situations.

Save Money on Postage & Production

When you can be sure your mailings are only reaching a responsive audience, you are maximizing your marketing dollars. List targeting allows you to keep your print and mail costs down and response rates high. A deceased suppression service helps you maintain a fresh, updated contact list – thereby reducing the amount of returned mail.

Prevent Fraud

As online activity has increased during the pandemic, many types of fraud have been on the rise – including scams involving death certificates. One use case where death data has been particularly beneficial is voter registration. Up to 1.8 million deceased individuals were listed as voters in 2019 – as voter data changes in real time due to life events such as moving, marriage, and death, it’s imperative that election boards keep voter data clean and up-to-date in order to maintain election integrity. In addition to mitigating fraud, election boards can utilize data capabilities such as appending addresses with apartment numbers and deceased suppression as part of their strategy to improve voter outreach efforts and reduce undeliverable mail and waste.

Why Melissa?

Melissa has been a leading provider of global identity verification and data quality solutions for more than 35 years. Personator, Melissa’s real-time Identity Verification solution, includes identity, ID and document verification, age authentication and global watchlist screening to establish the identity of a consumer or satisfy AML/KYC compliance. Personator World meets stringent international compliance obligations and includes tools to help businesses with fraud mitigation. Melissa also makes it easy to clean and update your direct mailing lists with our Deceased Suppression Service. Our deceased suppression database is compiled from Social Security records and other sources to match your records and identify those who should be removed from your contact list – so you can protect your brand image and reduce costs associated with wasted postage and production.



Need Data for a Key Decision? Try These 8 Sources

Melissa Team | Analyzing Data Quality, Clean Connections, Data Quality | , ,

Data drives most businesses. But what happens when you lack data to make a critical decision? How do you collect the data, and at what cost?

Before acquiring missing data, define your objective. It could be answering a question, such as, “How do my sales compare to competitors?” Or, “What products should I launch?” Perhaps, “How do I increase sales from existing customers?”

Before acquiring missing data, define your objective.

Once you form the objective, identify the available data to solve it. It could be that data is available from third parties in multiple systems — from transactional data to customer info to behavior data. Or you could have the data available internally. If that data is in fragments, you could potentially solve your objective with trend analysis as opposed to an actual percentage or number.

Regardless, depending on the objective, you likely have multiple data sources. I’ll address the popular sources in this post.

Data Sources


  • Install on-site software to collect data. Examples include a marketing automation platform or heat-mapping tools, such as Crazy Egg. Heat maps help understand how visitors use your website. Most provide A/B testing capabilities, too, for colors, images, and even products.
  • Conduct surveys. While they can be time-consuming to create, surveys from platforms such as SurveyMonkey or Qualtrics can help gain an in-depth understanding of your customers and prospects. Survey a segment of customers for detailed responses that go beyond “yes” or “no.”
  • Ask customers or prospects directly. An alternative to a survey is to ask a simple question at a specific point in prospect’s or customer’s journey. For example, after sending the confirmation email, you could ask via email to rate the shipping experience. You could ask customers who have purchased a specific product how likely they are to buy a different one. You could also solicit honest reviews.
  • Net promoter score. It is less time consuming for customers to answer one question. The net promoter score ranks the responses to “How likely would you recommend our [company, product, or service] to a friend or colleague?” A responsive of “never” would receive a 0. An “extremely likely” response would be a 10. NPS is a good way to understand overall customer satisfaction


  • Secondary research goes beyond internal data to investigate your industry or your customers. Examples include analyzing prices on competitors’ sites or reviewing the Instagram accounts of customers to understand their demographics and interests. Secondary research typically takes much time. I’ve seen companies spend weeks on secondary research to obtain the objective. However, it’s often worth the effort, as the information is qualitative and thus more useful than surveys or collecting from third parties.

Third-party data:

  • Research reports typically provide general data about the trends in an industry, including the size of the market and top players and products. They generally are the cheapest option of third-party providers. However, they are usually generalized and do not address detailed questions.
  • Consumer purchase data. Nielson and Kantar are examples of companies that sell consumer purchase data, including behavior, basket analysis, and other purchasing habits. The data can be expensive, but it usually includes details of consumer shopping trends on various levels — from zip code to a single product. Third-party consumer purchase data can also include complementary products, the best in-store location for products, the average price of products, product growth, and market share. Traditionally the data came from physical stores, but providers are starting to collect ecommerce data, too.
  • Demographic and psychographic data (values, attitudes, opinions) are helpful when trying to understand your customers. Providers include Experian and Melissa Data. If you know, for example, that most of your customers are males between the ages of 35 and 45 with a college degree, you can tailor your marketing to that segment.

Keep It Simple

Just because data is available does not mean it is useful for your business. Keep your objective in mind prior to purchasing any data or doing extensive research. It is easy to think that more data is better. But the best approach is focusing on a single objective. Gather only the data that solves the problem. Keep it simple, in other words.

By: Anna Kayfitz


Carpe DM!

Blog Administrator | Article, Creative, Direct Mail | , ,
By Alan Rosenspan, President, Alan Rosenspan & Associates
Remember how much direct mail you used to receive?
How much time it took you to sort through it, see what was interesting or relevant, and select the envelopes you wanted to open?
Not anymore.
Direct mail volume is down significantly in the last quarter of 2008, and the first two quarters of 2009 – and it doesn’t look to improve any time soon.
The USPS® admits that volume is down 20% – but I think it’s much, much higher. Plus it seems very few companies are investing in larger size or dimensional packages.
Which means now is a great time to send out direct mail for your company!
There’s less competition, less clutter in the mailbox, and less likely for your direct mail to be lost in the shuffle.
In a recent article in The New Yorker, James Suroweicki wrote about the real recession.
“In the late nineteen twenties, two companies – Kellogg and Post – dominated the market for packaged cereal. When the Depression hit, no one knew what would happen to consumer demand.
“Post did the predictable thing: it reigned in expenses and cut back on advertising. But Kellogg doubled its ad budget, moved aggressively into radio advertising, and heavily pushed its new cereal, Rice Krispies.
“By 1933, even as the economy cratered, Kellogg’s profits had risen almost thirty percent and it had become what it remains today: the industry’s dominant player.”
As you know, Carpe Diem is Latin for “Seize the Day.” Today, it’s “Carpe DM!”
You can take advantage of this historic opportunity – to use direct mail to reach more prospects, gain more customers, and get a better response than ever before.
Now is the time to increase your direct marketing initiatives with a fresh, targeted mailing list. Click here for a FREE list count!
—Source: Alan Rosenspan is an internationally renowned direct marketing expert and president of Alan Rosenspan & Associates. He has written over 100 articles for direct marketing publications around the world, which can be found at www.alanrosenspan.com. Email him at ARosenspan@aol.com.

How to Deal with “Do Not Mail” Mania

Blog Administrator | Article, Creative, Direct Mail | , ,
By PostCom, Association for Postal Commerce
These days in the mailing industry undoubtedly are not the best of times. They may not be the worst either, but they certainly are challenging. For the past three years, those who use mail for business communication and commerce have had to deal with unrelenting attacks by self-styled critics of our industry and practices who are relentlessly pursuing state and federal legislation that would stringently limit your ability to use mail within your business.
These critics come in various guises. The most common centers on their “concern” over the environmental impact of mail. According to the stories they tell, anyone who uses mail within their business is guilty of destroying the world’s forests, polluting our air and water, overfilling our landfills, and just about every other nasty behavior one can imagine.
In making their claims, they claim to offer “facts.” What they offer instead are lies, myths, and the sharing of a general ignorance of who uses mail, the purposes for which it is used, the environmentally sound aspects of doing business by mail, and just about every other of the common sense and good economic reasons why the establishment and maintenance of a universal mail delivery system has been a hallmark of every country around the world.
Below are a set of links to help your business and foster our common goals of preserving and promoting the use of the mail for business communication and commerce.
The materials include model letters you can revise as you see fit to tell your employees and advertisers about the value of the mail and your response to junk mail attacks. There are also letters to the media and any group that is out to destroy your business by funding or supporting antimail legislation or negative consumer attitudes. There are fact sheets you can use on your company website, or otherwise, about the benefits of mail, and the real impact of ad mail on the environment.
Links to Important Information You Can Use
Start By Doing Homework At Home (Getting your employees informed and involved. A sample letter.)
Communicating With Those Who Advertise and Market by Mail (A sample letter.)
Taking The Lies Head On (A sample letter.)
People In Glass Houses Should Never Throw Stones (Educate Your Environmental Colleagues. A sample letter.)
Mail, Public Policy And The Law
Truthful Messages You Can Use
Some Interesting Facts That Belie The Myths
Other Useful Goodies You Can Use
Q & A On Paper, Ad Mail, Landfills, & Recycling
Some Facts About Trees and Common Sense
Facts About America’s Landfills
Recovery And Reuse of Mail And Paper
How To Make Your Case
Working Effectively And Honestly With The Media (An excellent guide produced by media consultant Peter Miller.)
—Source: PostCom (http://postcom.org/eco/do.not.mail.mania.htm).

Prospect Better to Grow Existing Lists

Blog Administrator | Article, Direct Mail, Mailing Lists | , ,
Greg Grdodian, President, Edith Roman-ePost Direct
Do you know what you’re doing? That’s not a personal question. All mailers should ask it when building their customer lists. It means, simply, do you have a plan in place?
If it’s time to generate more top-line revenue, then it’s time to grow your list. It should be done methodically, using tried-and-true direct marketing methods.
First, outline your goals. Are you looking for quantity or quality? Are you seeking prospects or immediate customers?
If it’s quantity you want, you might be tempted to try social media, but you could end up with a glut of unqualified names. The best channels for generating customers are the traditional direct marketing ones. You’ll get more meaningful data, and you’ll have greater control.
Start by profiling your existing customer file. Match it against a comprehensive business-to-business database and overlay firmographic data like SIC and employee size, and individual details, like text title. Once you’ve created your customer footprint, you are in the best position to acquire new customers.
Next, prospect through the traditional channels, such as direct mail, e-mail, and telemarketing. You’ll generate higher conversion rates when you use them together. And, you’ll learn more about potential buyers–for example, how they like to respond. If it’s postal, send an e-mail to trigger response to a direct mail piece. These insights (and others) can be used when the prospects become customers.
Also, improve your ROI by negotiating multi-use volume deals. Don’t drill down in a list to the point where there are no prospects, and stop mailing unresponsive names. Remember the IOU formula: Your copy should generate interest, offer a deal, and deliver a sense of urgency.
Another way to build your list is through lead generation. Do you have a digital content library made up of white papers, e-books, webcasts, and analysts’ reports? Syndicate it through websites, newsletters, and through b-to-b co-registration networks. Prospects can be qualified with a couple of simple questions.
The Takeaway
Plan ahead, set reasonable goals, and understand the anticipated ROI.
—Source: DM News Aug. 23, 2010 (www.dmnews.com)