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What is Address Cleansing?

Address Cleansing Businesses often keep comprehensive lists of physical addresses for clients and customers, allowing them to send promotional materials or important notices to these important people to ensure continued business, encourage current customers to try new services, give updates on changes within the business itself or services, and many other reasons.

However, the list is only as useful as it is accurate.

Over time, customers relocate to new primary residences or sometimes there are other changes that occur, due to new address designations due to 9-1-1 service or similar agencies.

To maintain accuracy as much as possible, businesses often engage in an activity called “address cleansing.”

What is Address Cleansing?

Address cleansing is the process of checking the validity of postal addresses that the business has on file by comparing these records with those of the postal service to determine if the address they have on file is the same.

If they are not, USPS may provide updated information which allows the business to update their own databases, or if the address is determined to be defunct, gives them the opportunity to either research further in hopes of finding a proper address for that client, or remove the out-of-date listing entirely.

While this sounds like a simple procedure, it can prove incredibly difficult and time-consuming when dealing with an extended list of addresses because they must all be formatted according to USPS standards or the address cleansing process will not work.

What are the Benefits to Address Cleaning?

While there are many benefits to address cleaning, one of the most obvious is that you save a lot of money by not sending your correspondence to addresses that are no longer valid for your purposes. That alone saves a lot on preparation, materials, stamps, and other mailing expenses that are going to waste.

Furthermore, that mailing may become subject to whomever now resides at the address, which can create the risk of fraudulent activity. If nothing else, it puts the security of the intended recipient at risk.

As well as saving money and providing added security, it improves customer service by actually locating a lot of these migrant customers and continuing a business relationship, which pays all sorts of dividends.

How Do I Standardize Addresses in the USPS Format?

There are a couple of ways to standardize addresses to fit the USPS format, and they must be in that format for address cleansing to work.

You certainly have the option to review their guidelines yourself, but fair warning – the document, while organized in such a way to help find information quickly, is over 200 pages long.

This may be an excellent method when working with an address or two, but if you have a customer database ranging up to the hundreds or even thousands, there simply isn’t time to analyze every listing before sending them off to compare with postal records.

The most common method is using the magic of software technology to streamline the process. If you have the know-how or a programming expert at your disposal, it is possible to create your own system using a set of algorithms designed to perform three major duties:

1) Deconstruct the address into its major elements (name, address, zip code, house number, etc)

2) Convert each element into the proper standard format, effectively reworking each component to match how it is represented in the USPS database.

3) Reconstruct the address from the re-formatted parts, which, if done properly, will be organized in such a way that it will match the listing for the address in the USPS database if one exists.

Address Cleansing However, there is another hurdle that must be circumvented. While the USPS freely allows access to their database, that is generally intended for smaller-scale operations. If you want to run a large database against theirs for address validation, you are going to need to meet their qualifications.

This involves having your program become certified as a USPS Coding Accuracy Support System (CASS). In other words, they want to make sure your program conforms to their guidelines, is safe, and performs within expected parameters.

This can be a lot of work, but a program that converts this data will ultimately save hundreds of hours of work, especially since the address cleansing process will need to be repeated periodically. After all, the moment somebody from your list moves to a new address, your list is no longer completely accurate.

Fortunately, there are considerably easier options available for you.

An Easier Solution

The conversion process itself can take a considerable amount of time, depending on the expertise of your programmer. There is another way that circumvents this necessity entirely: purchase a software program that is already fine-tuned to make this conversion for you.

Sure, that option costs money, but how much money will it take for your programmer to do the job for you? If you do it yourself, how much of your precious time will you expend designing and fine-tuning it?

Likely more than what you would spend purchasing software that has likely released several versions, fixing bugs, and ensuring the product features optimum performance.

Are There Free Address Cleansing Options?

In fact, there are. However, sometimes you get what you pay for.

Nonetheless, there are many options available that advertise free address cleansing services. Some of these allow free use for a minimum amount of addresses, expecting you to upgrade or pay for premium services if you need more.

Others might simply encourage a donation for their services.

Whatever the case may be, whether free or pay, always shop around to determine which option seems best for your business model. Seek out software that meets the USPS CASS certification so that you know they have the qualifications necessary to perform the service.

The Bottom Line

Address cleansing is a common process that can pay dividends by helping your business maintain contact with current clients, reduce waste spending resulting from mailing materials to an improper address, and reduce the risk of sensitive information falling into the wrong hands. Visit smartpayables.com where you can find more information. The easiest way to make use of USPS address verification is by finding a suitable USPS CASS-certified software program that can both convert your database to standard USPS format, but then perform the database comparison and update for you

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Any facts, figures or references stated here are made by the author & don't reflect the endorsement of iU at all times unless otherwise drafted by official staff at iU. This article was first published here on 6th November 2022.

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