No matter if your mailings are invoices, collection notices, donor requests or marketing offers, bad addresses are the bane of mailing efforts.

The U.S. Postal Service® says around 17 percent of Americans change their address every year – yet only 60 percent file a change of address (COA).  It’s no surprise then that USPS also found 75% of the Undeliverable As Addressed (UAA) mail is related to “move updates.” What is surprising is 60% of people moved within the prior three months.

While all of us in the mail business know wrong addresses and returned mail are part of everyday life, the growing volumes of return mailed lead to lost or delayed revenue, rising costs and increased risk exposure.

For first-class mailers with more than 1,000+ pieces of returned mail, Presort Services recommends the following steps to help you update your undeliverable addresses.

5 steps in pre-mailing and post-delivery support to improve address quality

01: Ensure you have complete data fields at the point of capture
Make sure your front-end tool accurately and consistently captures customer information, and with sufficient space in the database, for instance, 30-50 characters are the new norm. Include prompts for an apartment number or suite when the address is identified as a multi-family dwelling or business.

02: Get on a regular schedule for data cleansing
By using Ancillary Service Endorsements (ACS) from the USPS upfront, you can make sure the right service type indicators and endorsements are setup. Think of services like CASS™ certified software and NCOALink® as table stakes and use them on a regular schedule –and immediately before any mailing.

03: Institute last-minute mail preparation process checks
Institute a check with your mail center to ensure they are accurately printing and inserting mailpieces into the right envelopes. You can also implement moves from a commingle provider, which can potentially capture last-minute change of addresses that were yet available during the initial pre-mailing cleanse. Make sure you provision that data from the commingle provider for incorporation back into your system.

04: Expand your number of data sources
Adding a third-party software provider who aggregates information from the USPS plus other data sources gives you a fuller picture. These advanced solutions can provide contextual information, like cardinal direction, that clarify addresses.

05: Establish centralized returned mail handling/processing
Whether in-house or with your professional mail partner, establishing a process for handling returned mail will allow you to correct and update your database, and re-send returned mail.

Using these strategies and others, Presort Services has helped clients improve their overall mail deliverability. Talk to your Presort Services account manager for more info and check out this infographic to see the full journey and hidden costs of return mail.