Without a Trace or CSI?

by | Jun 27, 2015

Each year around 6 million people change their address. Only fifty percent of these will sort out a mail forwarding service, and generally for only 3 months after they move. And of these people only fifty percent of them will opt in to Royal Mail passing on their new address.

Four million five hundred thousand people.

That’s the number that move and won’t tell you. These are your customers. These are your members. These are your supporters.

Over the course of a year a database of consumer names will degrade by up to 5% or possibly more, depending on the customer type. It’s also true to say that your product or service will determine how likely it is that someone tells you they are moving; If you’re a utility it’s highly likely. If you’re a charity, or provide non-essential items or services then it’s less likely.

But all is not lost. The UK is one of the most documented countries on the planet. We can argue the morality of this fact another time, what is more interesting is how many organisations believe that these people are lost to them.

For many years the Royal Mail has provided an invaluable service: NCOA – National Change of Address. They sell this data either as “This person has moved, this is where they’ve moved to.” Or “This person has moved, but we can’t tell you where.” Since then more agencies have compiled lists, mostly from credit data, all of which are freely available.

“The cost!” I hear you cry. Yes there is a cost to purchase this data. Like all services the organisations that are compiling the data aren’t doing it from the goodness of their heart, and yes, the data they are selling is a by-product of their core business (they are monitoring our every credit and purchase based decision). But let’s not fool ourselves into thinking there’s no financial impact when we don’t buy the data.

The most obvious impact is losing the income from a direct sale. Then there’s the opportunity cost of losing any potential referrals you may get by providing a good product or service to that one person. Let’s not forget that most people are a bit singular in thought and will be expecting you to know they’ve moved (telepathy or crystal ball maybe!) and when you don’t….well they’ll be quick to make their unflattering comments about you to anyone who’ll listen. And then there’s the idea that you may still be trying to contact them at their old address, alienating the current residents and most definitely not talking to your customers. Or should that be ex-customers?

Don’t turn your customers into ex-customers – let’s talk about how you can keep hold of them


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