Why Covid fall-out could put your reputation on the line

simon mclavenSpeaking with colleagues across several sectors over the last month, it’s clear that many are intending to increase their direct mail activity to backfill revenue from sales or donations lost during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Whether you’re already planning your campaign, or soon will be; it’s important to note that mailing deceased individuals is one of the most frequent complaints received by the Information Commissioner and can constitute a costly GDPR breach.

For much of this year we have been watching the appalling rise in the coronavirus death toll and, as a marketer, you know it’s critical to make sure that your mailing files contain as few deceased records as possible. No one wants to cause distress, particularly now when we are feeling especially vulnerable; also it will damage your brand reputation at a time that you most need to be building strong relationships.

But are you doing all you can to stop mail arriving with a recently bereaved relative?

If you work for one of the many companies who either license just one deceased suppression file or outsource data cleansing to a third party, then it is possible that you’re not doing enough and could unknowingly be putting your brands at risk.

A single source of deceased data rarely provides the complete coverage that you need. In-house decision makers are often unaware that the differences between deceased suppression files can be significant. Furthermore, even when you’re using a reputable data processing bureau, staying close to, and understanding the ramifications of which deceased suppression files are being used for your mailing files is critical to make sure you stay in control of what happens to your data.

Evaluations of The National Deceased Register – exclusive to The Ark – demonstrate that more than 30% of the data on this list is unique; that is to say, almost a third of deceased individuals don’t appear in any other deceased suppression file. If you’re not using this file, you could be at risk of mailing a significant number of deceased individuals in your database.

There are further challenges in this Covid-19 era; experienced marketing practitioners have been made redundant or furloughed and ways of working have become fragmented as, often for the first time, staff are working remotely and without the immediate support of colleagues. Under these conditions, attention to deceased suppression could easily fall through the net, especially if there is pressure to implement marketing campaigns quickly to help businesses recover. Brand reputations could be seriously damaged as companies rush to market; unknowingly mailing deceased individuals.

While all deceased suppression files on the market have a level of overlap, The Ark’s file holds more than 90% of all deaths. As part of our commitment to helping you minimise the risk of mailing deceased individuals, we will work with you to provide a free evaluation.

Evidence gained from this type of test match will demonstrate how many deceased customer records you are not currently identifying, as well as showing the significant savings available.

One of the UK’s largest insurers recently carried out such a test and found that, of its database of 22 million records, more than 100,000 individuals, flagged as live, were actually deceased. This worryingly large number had gone undetected by all the suppression files it had previously relied upon to keep its data up-to-date and clean.

Can you afford to risk your brand becoming another Covid-19 casualty?

Simon McLaven is chief executive of Ark Data

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