~by Paul Harris, Sales and Marketing Assistant
Global-Z recently had the opportunity to catch-up with our longtime friend Merry Law. Merry is the President of WorldVu LLC, the editor of the Guide to Worldwide Postal-Code and Address Formats and author of Best Practices for International Mailings.
Here are some highlights from our conversation.
Global-Z: Why is it so important to for marketers to have good address quality anyway?
Merry: Correct addresses are important in two ways: delivery (of course) and perception.
For delivery, a completely incorrect address or one that can’t be understood is not deliverable. This can mean an invoice, a marketing offer, or a product doesn’t arrive. Each of those creates different problems and costs before the mailing (printing, packaging, postage) and after the item doesn’t arrive (following up, reshipping products or processing refunds, and so on.)
If the address is decipherable and gets delivered, it can take extra time to get there. (That can means delayed payments with invoices, slow order streams with marketing offers, or customer complaints with products.) A poor address also sends a poor message to the recipient about your company. The company is not professional, is ill-informed, and doesn’t know what they are doing.
Global-Z: It’s almost comical to highlight the importance of mail being delivered correctly. Do you think many marketers are ignoring address data quality issues, or do they not have the resources/time to deal with it?
Merry: Yes, isn’t it! I think many marketers and other mailers aren’t aware of all the resources available for verifying and correcting international addresses or don’t know how cost effective those services can be. Some mailers tell me that the cost of the address hygiene services are often made up for in savings from wasted printing, postage and processing required by undelivered mail.
The same is true of the time element. The amount of time a staff is involved in dealing with returned and undeliverable mail can be greater than the staff time required by the address hygiene process. And, the old issue of who pays for the hygiene comes up, although we know that the artificial silos between marketing, IT, and other departments on issues like address quality are counter-productive.
There’s sometimes an issue of convincing top management to invest in address hygiene. Companies like Global-Z help demonstrate how you will benefit from address hygiene.
Global-Z: In 2013, you made predictions about the future of marketing. Looking back, which trends do you think will continue this year?
Merry: I think my predictions from last year have held up pretty well, although the growth in international has been a bit slower than I expected. The restrictiveness of Canada’s legislation on email privacy was a surprise but I don’t think we will see other countries follow this path. Indeed, the Canadian government is seeing some problems with the strictness of the regulations.
The exploration of big data and integrated, multichannel marketing (by any name) will, I think, be the ones that get the most attention from marketers this year. The USPS discount offers for qualifying mailings that integrate digital into a mail piece are a wonderful development. These have now been continued and expanded. (See here for details.)
Global-Z: How would you describe the current state of the direct mail industry?
Merry: While there’s been a tremendous shift to move away from mail over the last decade, there seems to be a recent move back to direct mail. Mail works.
Internationally, there are generally fewer legal and practical limitations on sending mail than there are on email marketing. Mail also reaches everyone, everywhere. Studies suggest that people spend more time looking at a piece of printed mail than they do looking at an email. As all marketers know, those seconds matter to the response rate.
Global-Z: What’s new at WorldVu? Are you working on any new projects that you are excited about?
Merry: I have been doing more writing and speaking. I am speaking more often on best practices for international mailing. I recently presented a paper on The Value of Addresses, discussing their economic and financial value, at conferences in France and the U.S. It’s an interesting topic that’s often neglected by both companies and by governments. Perhaps if addresses were a balance sheet asset, top management would better understand the need to spend on address hygiene and maintenance.