Address quality: the key to your business's bottom line

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We're living in a dynamic environment. Almost 14 percent of American households and 20 percent of businesses moved in 2005, filing more than 43 million Change of Address orders with the U.S. Postal Service. It is essential that mailers and marketers make the investment in address quality to maintain pace with target audiences.

The USPS delivers to 145 million addresses six days a week and adds about 1.8 million new addresses annually. Marketers must manage their address lists to avoid the risk of missing their target audiences, while losing a great deal of time, money and effort that lost opportunity represents.

Mail with inaccurate or outdated addresses is considered undeliverable-as-addressed mail and is handled in three ways: Forward the mail, delaying delivery and response; return the mail, resulting in lost opportunity and revenue; or discard the mail, ultimately causing a marketer to lose that customer completely.

The most recent (2005) figures show that UAA mail accounted for almost 10 billion pieces of mail of the total 211.7 billion pieces of mail processed by the Postal Service that year, representing an estimated $1.9 billion in costs.

Marketers can combat this growing problem of poor quality or outdated addresses and help eliminate unnecessary UAA volume and costs by implementing an Address Quality strategy. Businesses should standardize, validate and update address files on a regular basis using the products and services developed by the postal service: ZIP+ 4, CASS-Certified Address Matching Software, Deliver Point Validation, Address Element Correction service, NCOA Link, Address Change Service and OneCode ACS.

These tools will help clean address files and have a positive impact on overall costs associated with printing, production and postage.

Response rates will increase as each mail piece reaches its targeted, intended customer. A higher return on investment will be reached. Consistent use of these products and services provides a competitive advantage at a very low cost. Making a small investment now to manage address files will yield enormous benefits to a company's bottom line.

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