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Though phone number and email addresses are indisputably important pieces of customer data, it’s also true that addresses are just as critical for many businesses. For companies that send out mail or packages, either regularly or intermittently, having correct addresses is the difference between connecting with customers or missing out on valuable opportunities.
Address cleansing involves checking addresses for completeness, correctness, and deliverability. It also involves deleting duplicate and invalid addresses, thus ensuring you deliver to the correct customer the first time, every time.
There are several best practices when it comes to address cleaning. These include using tools, such as address cleaning APIs or web services, running addresses through the data hygiene process (standardize, correct, validate), and deleting addresses as necessary.
5 Best Practices for Address Cleaning
If your company sends our mail or packages to customers, then address cleansing should be an integral part of your communication and marketing strategy. This practical step can save you an exorbitant amount of money over time, between freeing up resources, preventing return fees, and qualifying you for USPS discounts.
But during this step, keep in mind the address database cleansing best practices. Below, we’ll go over five of these practices and why they’re so important to the process.
Use Address Cleansing Tools
Using an address cleansing tool, such as an API or web service, is the most efficient way to ensure your addresses are current, correct, and complete. While you can clean addresses manually, it’s time-consuming and labor-intensive. There’s also more room for human error.
But with a tool, you can cleanse hundreds or even thousands of addresses in just a few seconds, freeing up precious resources and saving money. The most reliable tools with be USPS Certified (called CASS certification), which means the company has a proven history of address accuracy.
Tools will also come with additional features, such as reports and integration options with your other communication or marketing tools.
Ensure All Addresses are Complete
Every part of an address is necessary for delivery, so incomplete addresses are unusable. One of the first steps in your address cleansing process should be to make sure every address lists the house or apartment number, street, city, state, and zip code.
An API or web service will be able to identify incomplete addresses within seconds. From there, the incomplete addresses will be cross-referenced with the official USPS database and filled in, if possible. This way, all of your mail is guaranteed to be delivered to a valid address.
This is part of what’s called the data hygiene process, which all addresses need to run through in order to be considered cleansed. This process involves three steps: standardize, correct, and validate. When addresses are checked for completeness, your API or web service will also standardize them. We’ll cover the second and third steps below, in the next two best practices.
Review and Correct Addresses
Prior to sending out a mail campaign, it’s essential to review addresses and identify ones that are incorrect, which would otherwise result in returned mail. Correcting and standardizing addresses results in a higher return on investment, decreased cost due to undeliverable mail, and reduces fraud related to invalid or fake addresses.
Using an address cleaning API, you can correct spelling errors, format with the correct abbreviation, fix incorrect abbreviations, format ZIP codes to the correct ZIP + 4 code, and more. Essentially, these steps ensure that your mailing addresses are deliverable and formatted according to USPS standards.
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Delete Invalid Addresses
Postal address cleansing is also a preventative measure against mail fraud. Identifying invalid or fake addresses before you send mail or packages saves you money on undeliverable mail and postal returns. It also protects your customers and ensures the mail intended for them reaches its correct destination.
When your API or web service runs the addresses through the USPS database to check for completeness, it will also identify invalid addresses. If a corresponding valid address can’t be found, your cleaning tool will delete the address to prevent delivery.
Weeding out invalid addresses is especially important if your company deals with sensitive information, such as in finance or healthcare industries. When you’re sending bills, collection requests, and similar mail, it’s imperative that your customers receive it as soon as possible.
Delete Duplicate Addresses
Clean address data doesn’t just refer to addresses that have been confirmed, corrected, and/or standardized. It also refers to data that has had all duplicate addresses removed, which prevents you from accidentally sending two or more copies of the same mail to one customer.
Deleting duplicate addresses saves your company resources and money. It also helps maintain your company’s professional image, since it doesn’t reflect well to send copies of the same information to customers.
Ensure Text to Speech is Included
Text to Speech (TTS) is one of the fastest-growing features that companies want from phone broadcasting software. TTS converts your written text into speech, making your broadcasts more accessible, adaptable, and versatile.
The best companies offer a variety of voices to use for TTS, ranging in gender, age, and language/accent. The more languages a provider offers, the more customers you can reach. And make sure to take geographic differences into consideration— for example, U.S. and U.K. English are different, just as European and Brazilian Portuguese are different.
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