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Going Postal: Why gathering the humble postal address is just as important as email data

In a digital age of instant information gathering, the good old postal address seems to have gone out of fashion. Wherever I turn, companies are getting me to enter this or register for that - and all they require is my email address.

Well, that’s good for me as the consumer – it’s quicker, easier, and there’s less chance of me giving up and moving on to my horoscope. Or is there?

Information is everything

Let’s look at why we collect information in the first place: it’s usually for Customer Relationship Management (CRM) or, as it’s quickly becoming, indiscriminate email blasting.

As a marketer, I lament the lack of information; I want to see who my client’s customers are. I want to be able to understand them and show them things they will like and want to buy, or take part in, or share. 

I want to know if I am talking to mum-of-two Sarah or man-about-town Martin. If I only have their email address, how can I do that? I certainly can’t analyse them – I can’t even tell if they are man, woman or child!

Effective targeting

As well as this conundrum, we then have the issue of cleaning the data. If I only have an email address, I can’t tell if they are still there (no way to track their move), still with us (forget deceased files on email, they don’t exist), or even of an age that is appropriate for my message. There’s no point in me emailing 12-year-old Ted now is there?

But what if I did have a postal address? Think of the possibilities! I could target them with offers in their nearest store, cross-sell other brands, products or services that suit them, and track them through their life stages with new and exciting products that will appeal. And we could even send them things in the post! It does actually work you know, it’s not all about jostling for opens in our already full inboxes.

Consumer engagement

“But” I hear you cry, “If you create barriers, the consumer will just go away and you will have nothing.” After rolling my eyes at being asked that question, I reply that if your consumers don’t want to fill in a simple form with their name and address in it, then are they really engaged with your brand?

If you can’t talk to them from then on, in a relevant and tailored fashion, then are you going to get anything else out of them? And are they worth the pains you have gone to collect them in the first place? From the campaign statistics we inherit here at Blueberry Wave every day, I’m afraid to say I don’t think so.

So I am campaigning to make address collection compulsory. Tell your agencies to add it straight away. Use quick address software (you know we all love looking up our address - simple things!) and give us CRM agencies something to work with AND the chance to make you more money.

That’s what the data is for, after all.

By Carolyn Bondi of Blueberry Wave