Certain surprises are fun. Finding out the person in front of you at Starbucks paid for your coffee? Java-tastic! Finding out you've been shipping products to addresses that don't exist? That's a postal catastrophe.
Luckily, many shipping snafus can be prevented by using address validation software.
Address validation (or verification) is the process of checking a mailing address against an authoritative address database. If the address matches an address in the known database, it is marked “valid”—meaning it's real. If an address doesn't match, it's marked "invalid."**
Just because an address didn't validate doesn't mean it's not real.
In addition, millions of addresses exist in the US where the USPS doesn't deliver. You won't find these addresses in the USPS database.
If you have customers at those addresses, you need an address validation provider, like Smarty, that references the USPS database but also utilizes other authoritative private and public sources.
Many providers get lumped into the "address validation" category but don't fully validate or might not even offer validation.
For example, while UPS offers “street level” validation, they usually won't indicate apartment, building, or house number errors.
Another commonly considered service, Google Maps won't tell you if an address is missing an apartment number. It also won't tell you that you entered a house number that doesn't exist. The mapping tool simply provides the best guess with any entered address.
Here at Smarty, we validate every part of the address and indicate if an address is in an apartment building. Such information allows you to pinpoint addresses that might be missing components—suite or floor numbers, for example—before you're struggling with lost and returned mail, missed appointments, angry customers, and more.
In addition to avoiding shipping issues and cranky customers, you may benefit in other ways from validating your address data.
Eliminate Duplicates The phrase “double trouble” did not originate in data management, but it might as well have. Duplicate addresses make it difficult to segment your data accurately, and can cause you to double your administrative work and expenses by sending multiple bills to the same location. And what if you have 20 versions of the same address? It happens.
Reduce Shipping Errors and Potential Fraud When it comes to accurate delivery, the third time is NOT the charm. Using address validation helps you get your deliveries right on the first try, so you're not out the cost of the item or paying a return fee to get your product back.
On another note, shipping products, bills, account information, or other mail with personally identifiable information to the wrong address could expose your customers to fraud.
Data Appending Your address validation provider may offer appended data and extra features. Data appending involves adding new information to your database that can improve your marketing campaigns, customer segmentation, and long-term planning.
Smarty, for example, focuses primarily on address validation and geocodes, both US and international. But in addition to the standardized and validated address, you'll receive over 45 data points for each address. These can include:
Why does this extra info matter?
If you know who your customer is, what they care about, and where they live, you can craft a more efficient marketing campaign and increase ROI. That's just one example of many.
Want to know more about how to increase revenue with accurate address data? Download our free ebook, 4 Steps to Unlocking Latent Revenue and Driving ROI with Your Address Data.