Undeliverable Mail: Sometimes It’s Not Canada Post’s Fault

Consider this, just because your business thinks your addresses are valid – doesn’t mean your mail is deliverable. A supposedly valid address doesn’t 100% mean it is the correct one and this entire problem of undeliverable mail can cost your business big. So, if you have a company that needs to send out mail or parcels, especially frequently and/or in high volumes, this post is for you.

Bad Quality Address Data Problem

First, let’s set the scenario. Canada Post serves about 15.1 million business and personal addresses.[1] In 2017, the total volume of all kinds of mail was 8.4 billion pieces. [2]  That’s billions. Wait, this problem gets trickier. Based on a study by ComFree, 28% of Canadian homeowners alone feel like moving every 5 years, and of the rest, 14% move every year. [3] We assume businesses move less often, but you must add companies that start or fail in a year and people who don’t live in homes like apartment dwellers. You get the point, that’s a lot of moving.
There isn’t any data on how undeliverable mail costs the Canadian economy, but down south is another story.  The USPS Office of Inspector General defines undeliverable mail as “mail not reaching its intended recipient because the address is incorrect, incomplete or illegible.”[4] It costs $1.5 billion a year for the USPS and $20 billion for the entire mailing industry in the United States.[5] Ouch.

Sources of Dirty Data in Addresses

Your mail can be marked “undeliverable” or “return to sender” for a variety of reasons. Canada Post identifies these top 5:

  1. Missing spaces
  2. Missing unit/house numbers
  3. Misspelled street names
  4. The addressee has moved on
  5. Rezoning and new postal codes

There is, however, another significant source of this now dirty data, humans, which is to be expected. You might have been given the wrong information entirely, misheard, copied or misread it, typed it into your system wrong. The opportunities for developing bad data endless.

How Incorrect Addresses Impact Businesses & Consumers

  1. Your customers get the right mail on time, every single time. This boosts their confidence in you and strengthens your brand. Higher confidence easily translates into repeat sales.
  2. Having the right address is especially critical if you have a subscription-based business. Your entire business model relies on consistently growing customer base to be profitable.
  3. You can lower or even eliminate needless printing, processing and postage costs. Let’s not forget, you may also lose your entire package and must eat the cost of lost inventory. All of which will improve your ROI.
  4. Logically, few undeliverable and returned mail pieces. Cleaning up your database and keeping it clean won’t prevent all undeliverable mail but it will make a big difference.
  5. Your customers and the individuals(s) in charge of sending out that mail will be much less frustrated on a constant basis. Plus, your customer service team will have fewer angry customers.
  6. If you still send out invoices and receive cheques, then that will shorten your receivables process as well.
  7. Canada Post even will provide your business with better postage rates if your address validation score is 95% or better!

Address Verification Options

Luckily your business has options.  There are numerous tools out in the market to verify address data.  It all depends on your needs, and you genuinely do get what you pay for. For some very small databases, there are a few websites where you can access free tools. However, when you have tens or hundreds of thousands of addresses, these tools won’t work at all.
When looking for the right address verification tool here are some critical questions to ask:

  1. Can it handle unlimited records?
  2. Do you need a secure on-premise solution, not just a website you import your data into?
  3. Does it work with the systems from either USPS (CASS) or Canada Post (SERP)?
  4. Can your clean address data be stored in a variety of formats?
  5. Can this tool verify addresses physically exist and compare matches to deliverable address?

Consider DataMatch Enterprise with Address Verification

Data Ladder‘s DataMatch Enterprise with its add-on Address Verification is the perfect mid, large or enterprise level solution. Contact us today for a free, no pressure demo and see what our powerful data cleansing tools can do you.

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