The Ark products now accessible through our new API

The Ark products now accessible through our new API

We are delighted to announce that our market-leading identification and suppression products, the National Deceased Register (NDR) and Re-mover are now accessible via our new API.

The API will give our clients easy access to the millions of records held on NDR and Re-mover. Furthermore, clients do not have to create or licence their own matching software as it provides configurable matching, providing flexibility in the level of matching required.

The API provides real-time access with an instant response on a record by record basis. Additionally, batch files can be submitted for processing at a rate of around one million records per hour.  All data is processed securely using appropriate methods to ensure client data is not accessible by any third party.

The Ark’s CEO Simon McLaven says, “We have listened carefully to the requirements and current challenges of our clients. Our product development is driven by their need to access this critical source of data quickly and easily. We have built-in configurable matching so there is no need for them to licence their own matching software. With our API, we have opened up wider opportunities to a new range of clients”.

The Ark passes rigorous independent data compliance audit by the DMA

The Ark passes rigorous independent data compliance audit by the DMA

Martin Jaggard, Managing Director of The Ark 

Oxfordshire-based data specialist – The Ark – has been accredited after passing the Data & Marketing Association (DMA) rigorous and thorough compliance audit process. Membership of the DMA is an endorsement that The Ark is a dedicated and responsible marketer.  

The Ark – which was created in 2003 – is the market-leader in helping companies of all sizes combat identity fraud and ensuring that they comply with legal regulations including GDPR. Its services include the National Deceased Register (NDR) – the country’s most accurate and reliable deceased identification file and Re-mover Goneways – which captures over 90% of all movers in the UK. 

All DMA members are subjected to a lengthy and evidence-driven process before receiving accreditation.  In the case of The Ark, it looked for evidence of its understanding of GDPR and how it was applied to the creation of identification files. It also focussed on the due diligence The Ark undertook for each data source it uses. All data companies offering PII data have to undergo this audit once every 3 years. The DMA comprises the Data and Marketing Association and the Institute of Data & Marketing (IDM) and represents over 1,000 members across the UK’s data and marketing landscape.

“The updated compliance process ensures that DMA Members continue to work to the highest standards, and that Membership remains a badge of accreditation that can be trusted in a data-driven world” commented DMA Managing Director, Rachel Aldighieri.

The Ark Managing Director, Martin Jaggard is delighted to be recognised by the DMA “Identity fraud is the UK’s fastest growing crime and with our existing products and those in development, we are in pole position to help our clients combat the threat. We are pleased that the DMA has recognised The Ark as dedicated, responsible marketers. We have worked through the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that our clients have received faultless service and look forward to their, and indeed our continued success for the rest of this year and into the next”.

CoviDirect Mail best practice

CoviDirect Mail best practice

Simon McLaven, CEO of The Ark 

This year we have seen the shocking death toll from Coronavirus and are still witnessing its devastating effect on much of the UK economy. Everyone has been, and continues to be, affected by the pandemic. 

As we work towards the new normal, I have spoken to numerous marketing practitioners many of whom are facing a similar challenge – the need to increase direct mail activity in order to recover revenue lost during the last six months and more significantly, remain sensitive to the mood of the country. 

In the planning of a direct mail campaign, it’s important to know that mailing deceased individuals can not only lead to a costly GDPR breach; but is also one of the most frequent complaints received by the Information Commissioner. 

No one wants to cause distress through their marketing activities, particularly while the whole country is feeling vulnerable. Mailing deceased records can also damage your brand reputation and, right now, you really need to be building strong relationships. 

Today more than ever, it’s critical to make sure that mailing files contain as few deceased records as possible, preferably none. The question I frequently hear is – can I do more to stop mail arriving with a recently bereaved relative? 

Unless you are already using The Ark for deceased suppressions, the answer is almost certainly – Yes, you can do more. Here are 4 things to think about when planning your data suppression: 

1. Ensure your suppression strategy has comprehensive coverage 

You may well work for one of the many companies who license just one deceased suppression file. If so, you could unknowingly be putting your brands at risk. A single source of deceased data rarely provides the complete coverage that you need and the differences between deceased suppression files can be significant. 

Evaluations of The National Deceased Register – exclusive to The Ark – shows that more than 30% of its data, about a third of deceased individuals, do not appear in other deceased suppression file. If you’re not using The National Deceased Register, you could be at risk of mailing a significant number of deceased individuals in your database.

 

2. Remain in control of key decisions about your data when outsourcing 

Even if you’re outsourcing to a good data processing bureau, keep in touch with them regularly to make sure you fully understand which deceased suppression files are being used for your mailing. It is vital to stay in control of what happens to your data. The data controller is obliged to protect personal data against loss or compromise and have clear, legally ratified, agreements in place with the processor so that the processor can only act on the instructions of the controller. Clearly, abdicating responsibility for data screening or being unaware that screening is not being done properly, is contrary to GDPR and therefore contrary to the law. The cost of a data breach can be up to €20 million – about £18 million –  or 4% of annual global turnover whichever is greater. As a data controller, you can’t afford to be ignorant about data processing.

 

3. Don’t bypass stringent data checks and processes 

The direct mail process is losing experience and continuity in this Covid 19 era. 

Marketing teams are becoming fragmented through redundancy and furlough. As remaining staff work from home without the immediate support of experienced colleagues, attention to deceased suppression could easily fall through the net; this can be exacerbated if there is pressure to implement campaigns quickly to help businesses recover. 

Companies rushing to market while unknowingly mailing deceased individuals could see their brand reputation seriously damaged.

 

4. Always test your suppression strategy 

All deceased suppression files have a level of overlap, however The Ark’s file holds more than 90% of all deaths. We will work with you to provide a free evaluation of your data as part of our commitment to helping you minimize the risk of mailing deceased individuals. 

Management information gained from this type of test match will demonstrate how many deceased customer records are not being identified using your current deceased suppression, as well as showing the significant savings available. 

One of the UK’s largest insurers recently carried out such a test and found that, of its database of 22 million records, almost 100,000 individuals, flagged as live, were actually deceased. This worryingly large number had gone undetected by all the suppression files it had previously relied upon to keep its data up-to-date. 

 

It is so important at this time that customers can rely on their personal data being treated with respect. Mailing the deceased and upsetting newly bereaved families is a surefire way to destroy the brand loyalty and values that you have worked so hard to build. 

We at The Ark, see the bigger picture; spending a small amount of money can protect your customers’ families and protect your brand reputation.

The Ark launches new self-service data cleansing software Intreau

The Ark launches new self-service data cleansing software Intreau

The Ark, The Data Quality Specialists, in conjunction with Greenstone Data Solutions has launched Intreau, a new self-service data cleansing software. Intreau has been developed to provide businesses with a quick and easy way to keep their data clean and accurate and to meet compliance requirements.

“Self-service data cleansing software isn’t new, but many of the solutions on the market just don’t meet the needs of today’s clients,” says Simon McLaven – CEO. “Typically, they’re just too slow – especially when processing very large volumes of data and they require the user to pay fixed license fees. We launched Intreau to provide a real alternative to outsourcing. It has all the functionality of a data bureau, can be completely managed in-house and you only pay for the data processed so there are no hefty licensing costs. It’s very simple to use, so you don’t need technical skills to process complex requirements and very fast – it can process up to 10 million records in an hour. Our clients get both the speed and advanced processing capabilities they need, without ever having to outsource.

And for those clients who only need to cleanse a single file we’ve created Intreau Lite; a fast and effective online tool where you can cleanse data, receive instant results and even pay online by credit card”.

How does Intreau work? 

  • Self-clean data cleansing software tool capable of handling complex data hygiene processes on large volumes quickly and accurately
  • Can be used online with our intuitive interface, or in-house using our secure API
  • Name and address hygiene
  • Multi-level de-duplication
  • Deceased and gone-away suppression
  • Telephone number validation and Mailsort

The benefits

  • No up-front license fees 
  • Super-Fast processing speeds of up to 10 million records per hour 
  • No limit to the complexity of workflows
  • Easy to use; no technical skills required
  • Visual interface which is easy to read
  • Repeatable workflows; set up jobs once and rerun them at the touch of a button
  • Secure and compliant; ISO27001 data centre 

To find out more or to sign up for a free trial call us on 0370 334 1510 and see how Intreau can help improve your data quality.

Is poor data sabotaging your campaign performance?

Is poor data sabotaging your campaign performance?

Complacency when it comes to data suppression could be sabotaging your campaign performance and may also derail your GDPR compliance plans.

That’s the reality facing even those marketers who already use deceased and gone-away suppression services but who do not regularly evaluate their providers and put the health of their databases to the test.

Holding out-of-date records (whether knowingly or not) is a clear infringement of several key areas of GDPR, not least the basic principle of data accuracy. What’s more, you need to demonstrate compliance – and that means being able to prove the effectiveness of your suppression solution.

So what are the starting points to creating a watertight suppression strategy?

Guard against inertia

Despite the widely adopted practice of supplier switching in the consumer arena to reduce costs or improve services, there is often much resistance within businesses. This may be because the decision-makers are also responsible for implementation and it is simply easier to stick with the status quo rather than tinker with something that is deemed to be working. Sometimes there is also the perception that change would cause unnecessary upheaval to the wider IT systems in which suppression is embedded.

Whatever the reason, relying on outdated legacy suppression files will certainly result in deceased and goneaway data slipping through the net.

Your chosen suppression files should be evaluated regularly to make sure they are doing their job – reducing campaign wastage, providing the building blocks for advanced data insight and keeping you compliant.

Be rigorous in supplier management

In our experience, much of the procurement decision-making in suppression is still reliant on human judgement rather than an objective data evaluation. But GDPR (and the threat of large fines) is likely to change this.

Each organisation needs to have a structured approach to supplier evaluation, selection and review. This should be underpinned by clearly defined criteria and well communicated processes, so that you can make evidence-based decisions that will stand up to scrutiny. Indeed the evaluation in itself would provide valuable supporting evidence to the ICO that you are taking proactive steps to keep your databases as clean and compliant as possible.

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket

Every supplier of suppression data should be included in your evaluation. This is because relying on a single file rarely identifies all known deceased, and it is simply wrong to claim otherwise. Although there is a degree of overlap, each file is created from different data sources and you need to understand how they vary in terms of data provenance, verification method, speed to market and proportion of unique records.

Take the example of one of the country’s largest general and life insurers. They recently evaluated our flagship product, the National Deceased Register (NDR), and found 89,000 deceased customers that had gone undetected by the two deceased suppression files they had been relying on for decades. This clearly illustrates the risks of relying on legacy suppression files without evaluating newer entrants in the market.

Plus, suppression services are evolving with new, innovative products coming on to market so keeping on top of the latest developments will ensure you remain ahead in data strategy.

Beware ‘biggest is best’ claims

One of the most misleading selling points from data suppliers is file size. We are proud to say that a recent independent evaluation of the main files on the market revealed the NDR as having the highest proportion of unique records despite being the smallest file.

So why does file size vary so dramatically? Some include records that date back to the mid-1980s, whereas we have chosen only to include deaths notified from the turn of the century. It is our view that older data is redundant because any organisation that has licensed suppression files in the past will already have flagged or deleted these customers. Also, some files are inflated by the inclusion of individuals who are thought to have died but where further verification is necessary. We stringently check our data and filter out those that remain unconfirmed.

You can download our new whitepaper on GDPR compliance and the role of data suppression here.

Hello… is anyone at home?

Hello… is anyone at home?

If you knock at the front door of one of your customers you will know when they answer whether they are the person you are trying to reach, but how do you ascertain whether your direct mail communications are reaching the right person when you can’t visit each and every home you are contacting?

Thousands of people move home (in some cases leaving the country altogether) every year and this figure is increasing, but the lowest priority these people have is updating their contact details with every company they have ever done business with; updating address details with banks, credit card companies, utility suppliers, mobile phone providers, loyalty cards, pension providers, solicitors etc. can be a mammoth task alongside the general hassle of moving house.  Perceived as an unimportant activity for a mover, it is unsurprising that customers fail to inform companies about a change of address.

The incoming tenant often has to deal with months of unwanted post addressed to people that have long since moved away, and many people throw this away instead of returning it to the original sender.  Although a lot of direct mail is returned each year as a result of house moves and people wishing to unsubscribe from future mailings, there is a huge amount of direct mail that disappears into landfill, never reaching the intended recipient nor making its way back to the sender for removal.  Further to this, many companies never action these returns, or take so long doing so that sending continues, despite having the information that some people have moved or do not wish to receive any further communications.  This inaction on the part of the originating company can lead to negative perceptions of the business and its practices.

Research by The Software Bureau indicates that each piece of returned mail costs the originating company £4, yet many companies continue to print and send mail to these obsolete addresses, quickly amassing a huge bill that could be avoided through undertaking regular database cleansing.  Estimates put a figure of 40% of returned mail being due to unsubscription requests, and 60% being due to goneaways.  Printing and sending communications to addresses that are no longer related to a genuine customer is a waste of money and resources; funds and time that could be more efficiently assigned to attaining a cleaner and more reliable database.

One reason businesses do not remove goneaways from their databases is to avoid incurring the associated costs, but this is a short-sighted view as the costs of continuing to mail people who are not there will far outweigh that of keeping the database clean.  Using a cleansing file like Re-mover means your database will be up to date to within one month of all house moves at any given time – that is much quicker than relying on new tenants to return the odd bit of unwanted post.  If a direct mail campaign involves sending several iterations or reminders about a service, there is every chance that time and money has been invested in contacting a customer who has moved.  If the new tenant then eventually returns all the unwanted mail you could be looking at a cost of £40 per record over a period of a few months – this adds up fast and cuts into the available marketing budget as well as skewing ROI figures.

Companies that regularly use Re-mover and other suppression files will see a much better return on investment from their campaigns, a lower overall campaign cost (due to reduced print and postage costs) and a much better reputation for not sending unwanted or irrelevant postal communications.

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