Have you ever accidentally entered a wrong address when ordering a package? Or misspelled your street name when filling out paperwork? It’s a common mistake that’s probably happened to everyone at least once. Some people catch it in time and fix it, but many others don’t. But in both scenarios, mail and packages are successfully delivered on time. If you’re wondering how this is possible, there’s a simple answer: address verification.
Address Verification 101: A Quick Rundown
USPS address verification is a three-step process that analyzes postal addresses and makes sure they’re valid. It involves three phases: standardization, correction, and verification or validation. Together, these steps form the data hygiene process.
- Step 1: Address standardization formats addresses to meet USPS standards. It corrects spelling errors, formats with proper capitalization, formats ZIP codes to ZIP+4 codes, and identifies missing information. This first step increases the delivery time, but doesn’t guarantee a successful delivery— that’s where the next two steps come in.
- Step 2: Address correction identifies and corrects wrong address information, such as incorrect abbreviations and address components. For example, 123 West Street could be corrected to 123 East Street. This step can happen before or after validation, or both.
- Step 3: The final step, address validation, compares addresses against the official USPS database and tries to find a match. Deliverable or valid addresses will return a match. Undeliverable addresses are run through the correction process, changed if applicable, and compared to the database again. Addresses that return no match are undeliverable and invalid.
Once completed, the data hygiene process returns deliverable addresses and flags or removes invalid addresses. This only takes a few seconds at most. Thousands of addresses are standardized, corrected, validated, and returned almost instantaneously.
With the data hygiene process and a postal address verification (PAV) API, companies no longer have to manually check addresses against the USPS database or hope addresses are valid when they send out mail and packages. Instead, successful delivery to the correct customer is guaranteed.
Benefits of Address Verification
Address verification is useful for every company, from local corner stores to global corporations. No matter how large or small, all companies benefit from being able to reach the correct customers to saving time and money and more.
- Accuracy – Increase accuracy in campaigns and customer contact
- Speed – Return bulk address standardization results in seconds
- Data Management – Ensure customer information is up-to-date
- Coverage – Connect across all U.S. territories and Canada
- ROI – Improve campaign results, customer satisfaction, and ROI
- Savings – Reduce costs from undeliverable mail and returns
Another great benefit of using a PAV service is that it benefits every industry and company. Any company that sends mail or packages can reap the rewards of address verification. Company newsletters, membership renewals, customer rewards, donation drives, and license permits are just a few examples of materials that benefit from validation services.
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Why Address Verification Is Important
Postal address verification is important because it ensures your mail and packages reach their intended destinations and customers. This is important for several reasons, some of which include:
- Communicating Vital Information – Mail and packages that relate to certain industries, such as those in financial and medical sectors, often send out time-sensitive and important information; it can be crucial for customers receive this information.
- Protecting Customer Identities – Information with personal identification details (such as birth dates, SSNs, account numbers, etc.) can be easily stolen if mistakenly mailed to the wrong person. This can lead to identify theft, fraud, and similar issues.
- Verifying Customer Identities – Having a guaranteed correct address on file allows companies at least one trusted avenue of identity verification. This is an essential component for both single and multi-factor authentication.
- Correctly Servicing Customers – A significant part of many businesses involves mail and delivery services, especially for those that deliver products. If customer addresses are invalid or missing, this negatively impacts a company’s ability to service customers.
- Providing Fraud Protection – Reduce fraud and protect your customers and company by identifying invalid or fake addresses before sending out mail and packages to those addresses.
In addition to being crucial to some companies, address verification is also useful in general. PAV services return results in seconds, letting companies know which addresses have been validated and which have no match in the USPS database.
Validation also provides return data on addresses that allow companies to better customize their customer communication and tailor services, such as geolocation data. Companies will be able to filter their campaigns and mail based on which addresses are business vs. residential addresses, rural vs. urban, and more.
How to Use Address Verification
To sign up for an address validation service, research which companies best suit your organization’s communication and marketing needs. The quantity and location of the addresses you need verified are two of the most important factors. Different companies offer small-scale or bulk postal address verification in one or multiple countries. Cost is another factor that many organizations carefully weight.
Once you’ve found the perfect service for your company’s needs, it’s easy to sign up and integrate the service with your website, application, etc. When possible, it’s useful to take advantage of free trails in order to see how user-friendly and effective the service is. Depending on how long the trial is or what features are included in the trial, you can run a test campaign to see if your ROI or other KPIs change, and if so, how minimally or drastically.
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