Believe it or not, snail mail is not dead. Email and cell phones have changed the way we market in favor of immediate, easily accessible information. However, postal mail still has its place. To use it effectively, you’ve got to use USPS address verification.
The US Postal Service (USPS) records and stores all valid US addresses in a standard format. Addresses should be in all caps, include company name for businesses, identify apartment or suite number if applicable, use valid USPS acronyms and abbreviations, have a nine-digit zip code, and omit commas and periods.
To make sure your address list meets these criteria and are valid, deliverable addresses, you can verify addresses at the point of entry, avoid web form errors, and clean and append your data. We’ll tell you how.
What is USPS Address Verification?
USPS Address Verification confirms and corrects addresses to match USPS standards and formatting. Without it, you risk sending undeliverable mail. There are a few ways you might encounter invalid addresses in your database.
First, addresses that were once valid can become outdated over time. People move, streets change, apartments close. About 32 million, or 10%, of Americans move in a year. In their lifetimes, average Americans move about 11 times. That’s a lot of changing data to keep up with. What happens if you get it wrong?
There are some negative consequences for sending mail and packages to someone at the wrong address. It costs you extra money if you have to resend returned mail, but even worse is the chance that someone else could get it. You might never know and your customer will never receive your mail.
Another way invalid addresses enter your database is through web forms. When customers enter their addresses on forms on your website, there’s always room for error. Street names and cities are misspelled or mistyped, apartment numbers are neglected, and zip codes might not match (below we list ways to prevent these errors!).
Finally, there’s always the chance that a customer knowingly enters an old or invalid address. This happens most often when an address is required in exchange for a lead generation offer. Those who want the immediate offer but want to avoid receiving mailers might use an address they know won’t lead to their mailbox.
Then there are privacy concerns. Some people want to protect as much of their personal information as they can. They don’t want to compromise the security of their home, and they definitely don’t want their address getting into the wrong hands.
USPS address verification catches these outdated and invalid addresses and either offers correct addresses or prevents you from finding out too late that your mail is undeliverable. Next, we cover five ways investing in USPS address verification benefits your business.
5 Reasons to Use USPS Address Verification
1. Save Time and Money
Let’s say you decided not to verify your address list. You’re confident your addresses are good, or close enough, and that if a customer has moved the mail will be forwarded. Then, you’re met with returned mail. You wasted money sending to an incorrect address!
Rather than spend time manually combing through your address list looking for mistakes, you can use a USPS Address Verification service and let the system identify errors for you. This will save you the time and money it will take to fix errors in the future.
You may have reread that part in the introduction when we mentioned that standard USPS address format includes a nine-digit zip code. That wasn’t a typo, and we aren’t confusing zip code with SSN.
You’ve probably seen the four-digit zip code attachment before, and you’ve almost certainly sent mail effectively with the basic five-digit format. Does anyone really know the last four digits or need them?
The short answer: no. However, a genuine USPS verified address will include those last four digits. Here’s why: with this much specificity (down to which side of the street!), only a few addresses share the exact same postal code (aka last four digits). This makes deliverability that much more targeted, effective, and fast. Without it, more research is needed by a human in a mail center. So if you can get it, why wouldn’t you?
2. Build Your List
Searchbug’s USPS Address Lookup service allows you to generate all of the valid addresses on a given street. This can help you build your contact list for a specific zip code. All you need is one street name to generate tons of addresses. Want to know who lives there? There’s a tool for that too!
Searchbug’s data append tool generates names AND phone numbers for valid addresses. Just upload your list and identify what information you need. In minutes you can create your neighborhood leads list.
3. Improve the Customer Experience
It’s kind of hard to stay on your customers’ radar if they don’t receive your mailers. Direct mail is still a very viable marketing avenue. It’s rarity makes it even more so—there’s less competition in customers’ mailboxes than inboxes….
Plus, tangible materials hang around a lot longer than electronic messaging which can be deleted with the swipe of a finger. Direct mail marketing is especially effective if you can send samples, gifts, and coupons. It’s a great way to attach value to your name.
Mail is nostalgic, too. Letters are a dying art. If you can address your mailers to the actual name of the recipient, your promos will be gladly received by your customers who feel like they’ve gotten something especially for them.
But perhaps you’re not interested in direct mail marketing. Maybe you collect addresses only to ship merchandise from your E-commerce business. This makes accuracy even more vital.
You’ve got to have valid addresses, and you cannot always guarantee that your customers will submit their information without error (though we’ve got a few tips that can help). A few pennies spent verifying addresses is nothing compared to the loss of customers who don’t receive their orders.
4. Keep up with Competitors
Even if you don’t use direct mail marketing or ship merchandise, up-to-date address information is still important data to have. You might have different marketing campaigns for different regions or want to personalize emails with information that’s relevant to your customers’ geographic location. The more good data you have, the better.
There’s also the opportunity to try a marketing avenue that hardly anyone uses anymore. Like we mentioned before, if you’re open to the idea of direct mail marketing, it’s a great way to stand out. Plus we’ve told you how you can easily grow your contact list exponentially and reach more leads!
Most obviously, you keep up with competitors when you know your customers well, can reach them whenever you need to, and make as few errors as possible. The more efficient you are, the more time, money, and resources you have to scale your business.
5. Preserve Your Reputation
This all kind of leads to one point: maintain a good reputation. You’ve got to be in control of your data. You might say quality is better than quantity. Bad data wastes time, money, resources, and makes you look bad.
To avoid sending undeliverable mail, claims for unreceived merchandise, and mailers addressed to the wrong names, use Searchbug’s USPS address validation service. This service can clean an existing list, a habit that should be developed as addresses change often. Here’s how to make sure you only keep good address data:
How to Verify Someone’s Address
There are ways to help your customers enter their address correctly and make sure that it’s valid at the point of entry. All you have to do is make sure your forms only accept valid address information before they can be submitted.
Address capture verification validates addresses on forms before they are submitted. This not only helps prevent errors and protect your database. It also improves the customer experience. The following address capture options make form submission quick, easy, and accurate which keeps users from abandoning the page.
Drop-down verification uses drop-down boxes for users to select the correct option. This limits the address choices, but prevents spelling errors and typos. Partial verification automatically populates certain fields while allowing customers to manually enter others.
Post-entry verification allows users to manually enter data, but before submission, suggestions pop up for users to verify the correct address themselves based on valid address options that most closely match their entry. Finally, type-ahead verification auto-fills information based on what’s being typed. This is similar to post-entry verification, but is quicker for the user by minimizing keystrokes.
Although these verification options prevent bad data from entering your systems, correct addresses change over time. You should still clean your list regularly. Tools like Searchbug’s batch address verification make the process simple. Just upload your list and download the results!
USPS address verification saves you the time and money it requires to fix errors after the fact. Keeping and using accurate data puts you ahead of the competition because your customers will always receive your mailers and merchandise.
Additionally, your customers will appreciate having to do less work. They don’t want to spend a bunch of time on a web form, they don’t want to troubleshoot when an address they enter isn’t accepted, and they don’t want to have to worry about updating their address for every service they use every time they move. Help yourself and help them by using Searchbug’s USPS address verification service today.