When is an Address Complete?

Like everything else about direct mail, an attention to detail when collecting and entering addresses into your mailing list is crucial. Whether your list comes from a master customer database, a simple mailing list program, or a sophisticated CRM system, incomplete addresses could result in higher postage every time you mail. It can also lead to delayed delivery or your mail being returned to you as undeliverable.

The U.S. Postal Service rewards mailers who use "Quality Addresses". The deepest automation postage discounts can only be earned for addresses that are complete and accurate. The Postal Service defines a quality address as having all the elements that enable completely automated processing. It also allows for accurate delivery without depending on the Letter Carrier's knowledge of a route and who is on it.

So what makes an address complete? Review the chart below for required elements and common errors. Find a complete explanation of these address elements at: U.S. Postal Service Addressing Standards

USPS Required Address Elements Common Data Entry Errors
Primary address number Transposed or missing numbers
Pre-directional - N, S, E or W Missing (2752 W Adams St)
Street name Spelled incorrectly or improperly entered
Suffix / Street, Road etc. Wrong or missing, improper abbreviations
Post-directional - East, West, etc. Missing or incomplete (2752 Adams St West)
secondary address / Apt., Suite, etc Missing secondary
City Incorrect spelling
State Incorrect abbreviations
Zip Code Transposed or missing numbers

Ensuring quality addresses takes a commitment on the part of everyone responsible for data entry at your company. Take time to emphasize the cost and delivery benefits of having complete and accurate information. It also never hurts to read addresses back to people if they're giving them to you in person or over the phone. Get in the habit of asking for directionals and secondary addresses. Your customers won't mind, and you'll be assured of having this very important information.

Remember, good address quality can improve your direct mail success and ROI:

  • Proper mail preparation for automation
  • Earning the highest postage discounts
  • Timely and accurate mail delivery
  • Establishing and maintaining customer contact
  • Reduced cost and increased return on investment

Of course, if you ever have a question about keeping an accurate mailing list, the experts here at Modern Postcard are here to help. Just pick up the phone and give your Direct Marketing Specialist a call!

Everyone I spoke to at Modern Postcard was friendly and had all the information I needed. Then the postcard arrived and it was perfect!
Lisa Desimini
Author and Illustrator