Everyone Has Bad Data, But You Can Fix It!

Getting bad data into your business is easy. In our rush to automate, crowd source, and cloud compute we’ve left the door wide open for questionable data to lodge itself in corporate databases. Unchecked, the problem will only get worse, causing inefficiencies, poor decisions, compliance problems, or corporate embarrassment. Bad data isn’t an IT problem. It can affect your entire business.

The impact of errant address data is an area that companies easily overlook. Even organizations that rely on digital communication channels may have to reach customers by mail sometime. Government or regulatory authorities may require you to send customers physical documents to comply with laws or regulations. Product warnings, recalls, or unclaimed refunds are common examples. Or a future marketing campaign may use physical mail as a component of a multi-channel effort. If address data is bad, your company will waste money on materials, printing, and postage. Fortunately, address information is data you can easily correct and maintain.

Not Just for Mailing

Address data is no longer used only to correspond via the US mail. Your business may use a customer’s address to produce accurate rate quotes, refer customers to local brick and mortar locations, or as a key to other databases full of demographic information that drives targeted and personalized messaging. You can only improve your customer experiences with correct data. Organizations can gain much from knowledge of their customer’s and prospect’s physical addresses.

The ideal time to validate addresses is when the data first enters your systems. Many postal software vendors now offer application program interfaces (API’s) allowing your software to confirm customer address information automatically as customers or employees enter the data. This software can prompt users for items like missing apartment numbers or street directionals, can correct misspelled street names or cities, and flag addresses assigned to vacant properties – a popular tactic of fraudsters.

Regular Maintenance

Regularly passing address data through postal validation software as a batch process is an excellent strategy, even if no mailings are imminent. Zip code boundaries change with new residential development, streets are re-named, and most importantly, people move.  Without scheduled updates, address data becomes stale and unreliable. The US Postal Service estimates the accuracy of most address lists degrades by 15% per year.

In the case of move updates, the USPS maintains records for only 48 months.  If you’ve been correcting extracted mailing files but not updating the source data, mail will eventually stop reaching the recipients even though they filed a change of address notice when they moved.

Mailing experts at EarthColor can help you get your address data back into shape so personalization and targeting efforts in all your communication channels are more effective. For help and advice, just contact us.

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