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#4.02: Keep In Touch – The Clean Databases Issue

Didn’t your mom tell you to keep your database clean? Enjoy a few examples on how to keep your data fresh.

1> Get Your Friends To Clean Up After Themselves
2> Mail To Fail
3> Add Email To A Postal Mailing List
4> Check It Out: Duct Tape Cures Warts

1> Get Your Friends To Clean Up After Themselves

A new type of software uses the convenience of email to let your friends and business associates update your database for you. These programs upload your contact database to a secure, private web site. Then they send a customized email to each person in your database. The email asks the recipient to update their contact information on a simple web form. The new information is synchronized with your original database, leaving you with clean, updated data. Our favorite service is from, and good ones are available from and

THE LESSON: Peer-to-peer software isn’t just about free music downloads. Use the net to reach out to key contacts and simplify your life.

2> Mail To Fail

Every so often send an email and snail mail message to your entire database — even if you don’t expect a great response. An annual mailing will help you clean your database and improve response rates to future mailings.

Marketing is expensive, and bad names in a database waste printing, postage, and the valuable time of your salespeople. For every bad address in the batch, the email messages will bounce and the letters will get returned in the mail. Hand the bounces to an intern to be researched or cleaned out of your database.

The annual holiday card does the trick, but we like more creative solutions. GasPedal takes every business card we receive, sticks our logo on the back, laminates it into a luggage tag, and mails it back to its owner with a nice note. We get plenty of thanks, some brand-building — and we catch every typo in our database. (To get one, send a few business cards to: GasPedal, 350 Third Ave., #500, New York, NY 10010).

THE LESSON: Save time and money by cleaning your database with a fun mailing that promotes your company.

3> Add Email To A Postal Mailing List

“Email append” services add missing email addresses to your postal mailing list. We think it’s worth a cautious try. The concept is simple: Send your mailing list to an email append company, and they add as many missing emails as they can confirm. You only pay for the matches, usually $0.25-$1.00 per email address found. You still need to be careful, however. Just because you find the someone’s email address doesn’t mean you have permission to email them. In fact, you run a risk of upsetting a good customer who intentionally chose not to give you their email address. We recommend a careful test. After you get new addresses, send an extremely polite email asking permission to communicate with them by email in the future. If they give you permission, you have a new, valuable email relationship. If they don’t reply or don’t give you permission, assume they don’t want email from you. Important: Do not send a blatant advertisement or add someone to your email lists without permission — unless you want an efficient way to upset your customers. With all these warnings said, many companies get a great response from appended emails and many customers are happy to get emails from businesses.

THE LESSON: Email append is an effective, inexpensive way to enhance your database — if you’re smart about it.

4> Check It Out: Duct Tape Cures Warts

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, plain old duct tape is significantly more effective than the traditional freezing technique for removing warts. Do you think insurance will cover this new treatment?

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