In the first part of this two-part article, we talked about the value an address can have. We considered the victims of hurricanes Katrina and Rita and how for some of them, an address is the only thing they have left to call home. Now we'll explore how to make sure the address stays current, correct and complete in order to ensure that a carefully crafted, highly targeted mailpiece can arrive at its intended destination successfully.
At the heart of most address cleansing solution sets is the CASS-certified software. This foundational piece of technology sets in motion the opportunity to standardize the address and then apply incremental steps and further technology to enhance and correct components of that address. The end result of this solution should be the complete, correct and current address.
The incremental technologies to which I am referring are DPV (Verifies Accuracy of Deliverable Addresses) and the various "link" based solutions, such as NCOALink, LACSLink (911 Address Conversion Matching Tool) and ANKLink recently made available from the USPS and accessible through certified distributors and licensees. There are also USPS services to be leveraged, which include ACS (Electronic Change-of-Address Notification) and Address Element Correction (AEC). If we were to graphically depict these products and services together, we might see them as a foundation set of address cleansing solutions.
But how do these solutions all fit together (when should they be applied) and what are the best practices for leveraging them? These questions are being tackled by the Mailers Technical Advisory Committee workgroup, number 97, called Addressing Methodologies. Its 30 members have a
These best practices include such items as optimal address line length for proper rendition of the address, managing unassignable addresses, managing undeliverable addresses, handling non-typical addresses, software evaluation and information dissemination such as the type we saw during both of the hurricanes. The workgroup is certain that upon its conclusion, currently slated for March of 2006, they will have amassed a series of recommendations for the industry and the USPS to help usher in a new renaissance in address cleansing.
You certainly do not need to wait until March, however, to begin evaluating and improving your address cleansing foundation. Remember, an address is not like wine it doesn't get better with age just sitting in your database. You need to continually make an investment to keep it current and correct. I invite you to check out the following links for the latest information on emerging address cleansing solutions.
1) http://ribbs.usps.gov: information regarding the various link solutions, ACS and AEC I and the new AEC II services
2) http://ribbs.usps.gov/files/amee/: contains an outstanding white paper created by the Association of Mailers for Electronic Enhancements.
3) http://www.idealliance.org/adis/: information about Address Data Interchange Specification (ADIS), which defines a new approach to storing and exchanging address element information
With a complete, correct and current address you not only can help to ensure delivery of your mailpieces, you can also help reduce the billions of dollars undeliverable as addressed mail costs the USPS. But perhaps more importantly, you can retain that crucial customer with whom your only connection is through their address.
Chris Lien is Commercial Mail