Protecting and maintaining your player database with regular checkups
Another year has gone, and a new year has taken over. You’ve recovered from the New Year’s Eve festivities (maybe), you have your new budgets, and things are gaining speed. Postage rates have gone up (January 2018), so it’s time to look at your data once again and make sure that it is accurate and no money is being wasted.
I sound like a broken record. I say this every year at this time, but I can’t say it and you can’t hear it enough. The data you have on your players is your MOST valuable asset. It is imperative that you take care of it, maintain its accuracy, and don’t waste any of your hard-fought marketing budget paying for things that get thrown in the trash (yes, the post office throws away marketing mail that won’t deliver).
Why do I repeat myself in this regard so often? Because we see your data. We know how many times we’ve done NCOA (National Change of Address is a secure dataset of individuals, families and businesses who have filed a change-of-address with the USPS) for you and you haven’t imported the changed data back into your databases. The USPS keeps NCOA records for a rolling 48 months. After that 48 months, the addresses for those players are lost to you. NCOA won’t be able to find them any longer. We see the number of bad address records (non-CASS, which means nonexistent) that are in your data. We see the number of addresses you are mailing to that the USPS says are vacant, undeliverable as addressed, or have no such occupant. What can you do? There are plenty of things you can do, but you have to make the commitment to do them regularly to keep up. Once in a while is nowhere near enough.
NCOA is now required by the post office, so you should be doing that every quarter, but it isn’t enough by itself.
NCOA only catches those people who told the post office they were moving, when they were moving, AND provided the address to which they were moving. What about those people who move and don’t tell the post office? Or tell the post office they are moving, but don’t provide the new address? We aren’t required to tell the post office we are moving, and many people don’t. They notify their creditors (or at least the ones they want to have the new info), move utilities, and tell family and friends on their own. There are other move update and resident verify options that you should be looking at to help find the ones that NCOA can’t find.
Do you know every time one of your guests passes on?
How many that have passed are you still mailing to? Oftentimes you don’t know that they have passed until a very angry and hurt surviving relative calls and begs you to stop sending their deceased loved one offers from your casino. The post office does not have an active deceased file, so you need to look for other sources of that data and run that process a minimum of once a year to cleanse your database. You will be shocked after the first time you run that process how many records from your database need to be archived and purged due to death. If it was 3-7% of your database, how much money is that over the course of one year in print, mailing services, and postage costs? How about other marketing costs for those guests?
Are you suppressing vacant addresses, addresses with a nationally registered no-mail flag, prison or correctional facility addresses, nursing home addresses, or players who are in bankruptcy proceedings?
Are you updating player records that are missing apartment numbers (did you know they were missing)? If your property mails to Canada, are you standardizing and updating those addresses to get maximum deliverability within Canada Post?
How many duplicate records by exact individual are there in your database?
An individual who has an address in their account that has “aged-out” of NCOA may have another record in your database that you don’t know about. You don’t have a complete picture of that player, as some of their info may be assigned to another account. Perhaps they should be getting $10 more in free play, which might motivate another visit each week. What if they were 86’d at one point, and now you are back to inviting them to events and giving them free play? This can cause serious problems for a security department.
It isn’t all doom and gloom, folks.
Keeping your data up-to-date and accurate makes it more valuable. You will have accurate information about the players you most want playing your machines and table games without gaps in loyalty. That same accurate information can be used to track down those valuable inactive players who would really be a boost to the bottom line if they started playing again.
Accurate and up-to-date data produces the most successful append passes for things like email addresses, geographic location, phone or mobile numbers, and consumer demographics that make your data even more valuable. This, in turn, provides more ways and reasons to communicate with your players. The more you know about your players, the more personal you can make their experience at your property. And that will keep them coming back.
The process begins with training your staff about how valuable your data is to your property.
And that means all staff, from the frontline hotel front desk attendant to the security staff. And especially the staff who have face-to-face contact with your players and access to the player system. Confirm the information that you have for each guest with them standing right in front of you. Ask them how they want to receive their communications, and then be sure that the contact information you have is correct. When missing information is detected, flag the account to remind your staff that new information is needed the next time that player is in front of someone.
Make sure that the IT department and the marketing department have a mutual understanding regarding the value of the data on your players, and that they communicate well with each other. It has become increasingly important that these two departments work closely together in this Information Age. Your IT team is there to help with downloading data that needs to be cleansed, and then uploading data that has been updated back into your systems. Making changes by hand on a mass scale is no longer practical with today’s technology.
Make today the day that you start taking really good care of your most valuable asset. You have a lot to gain.