Quick Tip: Suppressing House Files

Sometimes making sure that you’re not mailing certain house file records can be just as important as the ones you do mail. Your complete inhouse “Do Not Mail” suppression file should be used during every main merge and, if possible, any incremental house file suppress records should be added to every hotline merge.

Ideally, a complete house file suppress file record should include customer number, name, and address fields—this should ensure a proper match process during the merge/purge. When sending house file suppress files to your service bureau, make sure that you are including customers who no longer wish to receive your catalog, as well as records you’ve deemed as unmailable – i.e., fraudulent or bad debt customers.

Caution: Never put the “Do Not Mail” suppression files through NCOA or any other address integrity processing. You should always maintain the suppression record exactly as the customer gave it to you. For example, many a good customer will ask you to suppress their old address when they move. If you apply an NCOA change to this suppression record, you will now be suppressing the new address of a valued buyer.

Also, make sure that the “Do Not Mail” suppression file does not include records of those who have only opted out of your e-mail campaigns. These records should be mailed a catalog unless the customer specifically requested to be suppressed from mailings.

Keep in mind that if your service bureau also handles your list rental files, you’ll want to make sure to suppress the “Do Not Share/Do Not Rent” house file records from the rental files since they do not want to have their names and addresses rented or exchanged with other lists or co-op databases.

Anna-Lisa Ulbrich is circulation and marketing manager at San Rafael, CA-based consultancy Lenser.

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