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4. Sending mail to dead people

With all of the election fervor in the air, I’m reminded of an election in East St. Louis a few years back, where they had 125% of the population vote. How did this happen? Fraud, mostly. A later analysis found a lot of dead people were still registered to vote… and somehow did, with the help of a friend. What could the city have done differently? Perhaps run their voter file database against a deceased suppression database, to remove people who weren’t among the living.

I think Ben Franklin said it best: In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes. I won’t delve into talk of taxes (our candidates are keeping that issue alive right now for everyone), but the fact is that each year, a small percentage of the people in your database will die, get thrown in jail or (more commonly) move to a different address. While it’s not the end of the world to send out direct mail to dead people, a simple cleaning of your list (we can help you with this) can usually flag the records that should be removed. Try to think of it from the end customer’s perspective, who might be receiving a letter that’s addressed to their deceased loved one.

Your campaign that says, Sign up now, before it’s too late, might perhaps be received the wrong way. (Especially if it’s for life insurance.) In direct mail marketing, success comes at the margins. Cleaning up your list means less paper, less postage, less printing costs, less trees cut down and less money spent. Increasing the quality of your list could translate into a better response rate.

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