Not too long ago, I talked about how to address formal mail properly for the 21st century. At the end of the post, I attempted to soften the hundreds of words of etiquette by saying that even if you don’t get it totally right, it’s the effort and thought that counts. But that’s for when you’re addressing a wedding invitation to your widowed great aunt Betsy and her “roommate.” When marketers address recipients of their offers, it’s definitely not the thought that counts; it’s the accuracy.
Keep Your Mailing Lists Current
The phone number I got nearly six years ago still receives calls and texts for the last owner of that number. I’ve actually made a few friends and gotten some recipes and invites to pancake breakfast fundraisers. But I’ve also been bombarded with appointment reminders, collection agencies, and salespeople. One time, it was a garbage collection service. When I told them that the number had changed, I spent another five minutes on the phone explaining that my garbage collection needs were being met just fine, thank you.
The point is that getting any type of communication that isn’t meant for you is annoying, and that includes mail. Keep your mailing lists up to date by performing data hygiene on a regular basis. (Need help? Ask your IWCO Direct account team about tools to take you beyond the basics of CASS and NCOA.) It’s also important to make sure that it’s easy for customers to update their address and other contact information through a direct customer line, website, app, etc.
Don’t Assume Who Does What in the Home When Addressing Offers
My sister has always managed her home with an iron fist. She schedules maintenance, pays bills, orders appliances, and anything else you could think of. Yet, at least two of the home contractors she hires continuously address direct mail pieces to her husband, whom they have never talked to. That, or they address it to “home owner,” which is better, but not great.
It’s important as a marketer to speak to the person the homeowners have designated as your contact. Or, if you really don’t have a targeted list, address it to the home as a whole, not just to one person who you think may be in charge of those decisions.
When it Comes to Prefixes, Never, Ever Guess
A former coworker of mine told me that her golden rule is that whenever anyone addresses her mail to a “Mr. Taylor,” she throws it away without even looking at it. It’s actually gotten her in trouble a few times, but that’s how strong her dislike is for addressing her as a man.
Gender-neutral names are a big trend that is only picking up steam, according to a New York Post article. In fact, my newest niece has the middle name “James” after her grandpa, and it’s adorable. Plus, you don’t always know what gender a person identifies with.
Hard and fast rule: unless a consumer specifically tells you to address them as Mr., Ms., Mrs., Miss., Mx., don’t use an honorific title when addressing recipients in your campaigns. It’s better to be more casual than it is to offend.
As a marketer, the onus is on you to get this right. You’re asking consumers for a favor—to open your communication—so it’s up to you to ask as politely, respectfully, and enticingly as possible. That begins as soon as you put a name on the envelope.
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