Spring Clean Your Address Books

Meet the writer: Karen Pieper

Hi, I'm Karen! I've been in the industry for 18 years and can't wait to share my perspective on all things direct mail. I'm currently the Digital Marketing Manager at Letter Jacket Envelopes and deal with tasks from managing the website, facilitating conversations with customers, and much more!

Giving up a beautiful spring day to wash your blinds and clean out your closets? Perhaps you could take it or leave it. But doing a spring clean of your office address books is always worth it. Almost nothing saves your marketing and communications team more time and trouble in the long run than keeping email and direct mail campaign lists squeaky clean. They will thank you, and though we can’t guarantee you’ll get a raise, all we’re saying is, it won’t hurt. Here are some dos and two big don’ts for getting your address books cleaned out this spring.


…tackle this regularly.

Nothing says “tacky” like getting consistently targeted for email and direct campaigns that lag sadly behind your actual involvement with an organization. And life is constantly changing, people moving, clients turning over. So set aside regular times during the year (at least twice a year, even quarterly) to refresh your marketing address lists. At least once a year do your major “spring clean” that takes you through every name and every list. But you can also do frequent “lighter cleans” (see below).

…ask for feedback.

Base “lighter cleans” on feedback you request from your constituencies. Clients, prospects, patrons, and congregants need regular opportunity to tell you when their interests or addresses have changed so that you’re not peddling people something they don’t want. These quick information requests can be included in regular campaigns, or sent out occasionally as a brief “nudge” or survey. Regular brush-ups make the deep cleans easier.

…check for accuracy.

We’re talking spelling of names and addresses, checking bouncebacks, making sure you’re mailing to current residents, etc. For every inaccurate address or name you have on file, you’re essentially wasting every hour spent on a marketing campaign to that address. The United States Postal Service, as well as a wide variety of software available online, would be more than happy to do this work for you and save your carefully-crafted mailings from being D.O.A.

…hone and target with the team.

This is going to take cooperation, even if you need to bribe your office with bagels. Your marketing and communications department needs the full scoop on what’s working and what’s not in your campaigns and needs to articulate where your organization is headed so that you can all work together to make the address books reflect that. This isn’t a job for a computer alone, but takes thoughtful, visionary humans with highlighter pens figuring out how to move forward effectively. Honing and targeting means:

…cut ties.

Names that have been dormant may have once been dear, but after no interaction from them for a certain period of years (only your organization can decide what number of years indicates “non-active”), it is either time to check in one more time personally, depending on their former relationship with your organization, or say “bye-bye” and move on.

…reimagine based on new info.

Whether it’s a single-parent support group or potential patrons for your local bistro, you will have more information about clients, prospects, and parishioners now than you did this time last year. This new info is based on one-on-one relationships, surveys, purchases, bouncebacks, online interactions, etc. Anytime someone from your targeted audience has touched down in your business, whether in person, through the mail, or online, you have an opportunity to note a little bit more about who they are, what’s relevant to them, what turns them away and target your mailing lists accordingly. And in marketing, a highly targeted group is a responsive group.

Now you’ve heard the dos. Time for just two brief don’ts.


…dump an address book.

Sometimes, to save time, or because people think all the addresses refer to clients or potential clients anyway, well-meaning employees will dump address books directly into subscriber lists. Yes, it happens. And never do this, even if you think it’s saving you time. Always comb through (and get some good software to help you comb through) email addresses to make sure they’re an absolute fit before adding them to a campaign subscription list. Otherwise, that IT guy you hired five years ago will be wondering why he’s being offered free manicures (see this cautionary tale from MailChimp), or the parishioner who left because she was mad will be wondering why she’s now subscribed to the new building campaign. Take every precaution on behalf of your business to avoid looking careless. Don’t dump your address books during your spring clean to save time, and stay out of spam folders.

…NOT clean out your books because you’re too busy.

Ah, spring! The time of year when businesses and churches have plenty of spare time on their hands! We feel you. But if you get a head start now, this will pay off majorly later. Keeping address books accurate, toned, and on the cutting edge of your organization’s vision gives you critical credibility with your audiences, saves time (and thus money), and keeps your leads precise. It also keeps your focus on track so that you’re not always adjusting lists and fixing errors on the fly. It can be easy to lose track of a sloppy or outdated address list. What you “save” in time, you don’t want to lose again in time and money (and face) backpedaling to try to see where the lines got crossed — or rather, where the lines became a snarled ball of yarn. You can be confident you have it in hand.


When you’ve got your new address books looking spiffy, and you’re ready to send that direct campaign, make the most of it. Letter Jacket is here to help your campaigns look their best so that your audience looks forward to seeing your logo in the mailbox. Contact us today!

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