Testing Suppression Files

Besides the “deceased individual” suppression files and the Direct Marketing Association pander file (consisting of those who write the DMA indicating they do not want unsolicited mail), service bureaus frequently offer suppression files that include prison addresses, multifamily dwelling units, exact age files, bankruptcy files, college campuses, nursing homes, and commercial centers.

But you should not blindly suppress any category of addresses without first testing the response to your particular offer. For instance, some mailers find prisoners to be excellent customers! Similarly, you should test-mail military/government addresses (APO and FPO) to determine if they are responsive to your offer — don’t assume they won’t work. We’ve even gone so far as to test the deceased names, since the catalog is still going into an address that responded initially.

Another issue is weather-related suppression. While Hurricane Katrina clearly was cause for suppressing certain zip codes in Louisiana and Mississippi, many mailers could actually benefit by testing into areas that may be in dire need of their offer!

So while it’s important to keep your list clean, make sure you review each category your service bureau provides before suppressing potential customers.

Matt Morton is circulation and marketing manager at San Rafael, CA-based catalog consultancy Lenser.