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Address Processing and Name Formats

In a quest to improve the export definitions they use for mailings, a client recently asked why the export in question was separating their name format data (addressees and salutations) into two columns, one for Individuals and one for Organization Contacts. They really wanted all the names in one column, but their existing setup did not provide that.

If you’re starting with a Constituent source export definition and choosing the Addressee and Salutation node for your individuals, and then locating the Contact node to do the same for contacts (which was their situation), then two columns is what you will get.

While you may be able to live with this, it’s certainly not ideal. This is where Address Processing comes in to play. Address processing and name format options are configured in the Marketing and Communications functional area of Blackbaud CRM™. You may have come across them when creating appeal mailings or direct marketing efforts, but have you thought to use them in your export definitions?

Not only does the node include a combined Contact addressee/Addressee field which will solve this one-column issue, but using it adds flexibility to your output. You’re not only able to choose between different contact types, but you can also choose what happens when there is no organization contact, and if your records include communication preferences, those can be processed as well.

Next time you’re preparing a constituent export definition try changing your criteria

from this: to this:

When you select a field from the Address Processing node, the Parameters window will open asking you to select the address format, name format, and mail type.

So let’s take a deeper dive into how each of these elements will affect the data you will see.

Address format:

The Address format pulls from the Address processing options which determine which address is pulled for a constituent mailing. There are separate tabs for Individuals, Organizations and Households/Groups. If you collect mailing preferences for your constituents you can choose whether to honor those preferences. If you decide not to, or preferences don’t exist, you then decide which type of address you will mail to.

For an Individual, you may choose by default to send mail to their primary address, but there may be an occasion when (due to the nature of the mailing) you would rather send to only their home address; this can easily be achieved by creating a special address processing option for that particular mailing.

For an Organization, you can decide whether to mail the contacts at the organization or the organization itself. If you mail their contacts, you decide which type of contact you want to mail, whether to mail each of them if there are multiple, and what to do if there is no contact.

Name format:

Name formats determine how names are formatted in your mailings. In one type of mailing you may use a formal addressee format that includes the title and suffix; in others you may want to use a less formal format such as first name and last name. This means that while you might have set a formal addressee option as the system default, you still have the flexibility to use any of the other formats when needed. As with address processing options, separate formats are set for Individuals, Organizations and Households/Groups; and here in Name formats you also set options for Addressees and Salutations independently of each other. For an organization, the formats defined on the contacts record are used for the addressee field if available; for the salutation field you can choose between using the contacts salutation, the organizations name, or a custom name. If you choose to use the contacts name, but one does not exist, the organization’s name can be used, or an alternative name can be entered, for example “Business owner”, so that the mailing would be addressed to Dear Business owner. It is worth noting however that if there is no contact available for the addressee field, then the result is left blank.

Mail type:

CRM uses the mail type you select to determine which of a constituent's mail preferences to consider when it chooses the address. For example, if I set the Mail type in my export definition to “Event”, and my address processing options show that I want to use the organizations mail preferences if specified, but a particular organization record has a mail preference stating that they don’t want to receive any event mailings, then when I run my export process based off this particular export definition, that organization will be excluded from the results; or if ordinarily I have the organization’s mail going to their primary contact, but there is a mail preference on their record stating that event mailings should go to their events contact, then when the Mail type is set to Events, the export definition will pull the events contact and not the primary.

For those leveraging a Marketing export definition (such as for Marketing Efforts and Marketing Acknowledgements), the same concepts apply. From the marketing effort or acknowledgement template itself you can choose to use the more simple “primary” address/addressee/salutation option, which will give you that data for the qualifying record (organization or otherwise). Or, you can elect to leverage the address and name format options described above. These will allow you to work in more complex if/then logic surrounding the use of contacts and name types in particular scenarios.

From there, we often see confusion over which fields to include in the marketing export definitions. Generally speaking, the regular “Constituent Marketing Information > Constituent” node will provide you information on the qualifying record (such as the individual or organization that fell into the segment). The “Mail To Constituent” specifically outputs data for the record to be addressed via the address processing and name format options selected. You can generally get everything you need from the “Constituent Marketing Information > Constituent” node since the Addressee and Salutation columns will update accordingly, but be sure to check out both nodes as you set up and test a new option/export definition combo.

Address processing and name format options in CRM offer comprehensive selections and give the user the flexibility to cover numerous mailing scenarios. Take a look next time you’re creating an export definition, and for additional help, be sure to reach out!

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