For a majority of businesses, direct mail is the heart of communications: invoicing and remittance, marketing, sales, customer support, and fraud prevention. Address data is the beat of that heart. Correct, complete, current, and compliant addresses are the foundation for cost savings, revenue generation, legal and regulatory compliance, and risk reduction for countless operations.

You need to reach your audiences at the right time, at the lowest possible cost, and to do so requires compliance with increasingly complicated – and sometimes conflicting – USPS®, federal, and industry-based regulations.

If mail is a significant cost center for your organization, and you rely on the postal service, then optimizing the quality of your address data presents an enormous opportunity. The problem and cost of bad data is too large to ignore.

Achieving effective and efficient mail operational goals can be challenging, given:

  • the vast volume of data involved;
  • the complexity of USPS® rules for gaining the lowest postage rates;
  • an increasing number of variations in types of addresses;
  • laws and regulations that dictate elements of data; and
  • the ongoing challenge of maintaining accurate, up-to-date addresses.

Challenging? Yes. Overwhelming? No. We have identified the top 10 best practices in the industry to appropriately manage and optimize your valuable address data. This requires the application of a range of addressing tools and the use of a disciplined management plan. Data management needs to be adjusted over time to respond to new needs that reflect the evolving and improving quality of the data.

Simply put, the more consistently you adopt these best practices, the higher the quality of your database and the better your return on investment.

Understanding the Problem of Bad Data

It’s alarming how many addresses are inaccurate. When the name of the addressee doesn’t match the address – or when there are errors in the address itself – the Postal Service™ can’t deliver the mail, and you’ve lost out on that connection with your customer or prospect.

Here are the facts: About 4% of mail was not delivered to recipients in 2016. That’s 5.9 billion pieces of mail, including 1.4 billion pieces of First-Class Mail® and 4.3 billion pieces of USPS Marketing Mail™.

Nearly five out of every 100 pieces sent don’t reach the intended recipient. The following issues further compound the importance of optimizing your mail database:

  • In our increasingly omni-channel environment (mail, email, mobile, social) where all forms of media and communication are interrelated, the address is the driver for interaction. An error in one channel can impact the effectiveness of all.
  • 14-17 percent of US residents move each year. This leads to a huge, ongoing stream of outdated information.
  • Simple errors are a significant issue. Mistakes in addresses added to your database – transposing street numbers, misspelling city names – lead to delivery problems downstream.
  • Finally, for many mailers, typically over 11 percent of the addresses being used represent a nonphysical address; this is an address where mail is received, but it is not where the person actually resides. This can restrict or delay delivery while impacting maintenance of the contact information.

In the next blog in this series, we’ll talk about the cost of bad addresses and three of the top best practices to optimize your mail database.

What can you do about bad addressing data? Download our e-book: Closing the Loop on Undeliverable Mail: 10 Best Practices that Business Mailers Should Adopt to Ensure Their Addresses are Correct, Complete, Current and Compliant

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