Business Process Improvement, How-to Guides, Postage and Mailing

Improve Address Quality with These Address Cleansing Tips

FSSI logo FSSI Marketing on January 11, 2021

Person sweeping with a big manilla folder in the background that says customer data.

Optimizing Your Address Quality

Improve the efficiency of your mail campaigns and maximize your marketing strategies by effectively cleansing your customer mailing database. According to an Experian Data Quality survey, over 32% of address data is inaccurate, making it crucial to address this issue to improve your ROI indicators and reduce wasted postage costs. Additionally, inaccurate data means a significant portion of your mailed information may not reach its intended recipients.¹

To assist you in this process, let’s explore the concept of address cleansing and its importance in maintaining the quality of your mailing addresses. Address cleansing involves auditing and improving the quality of the address data collected by your company. By implementing address cleansing, you can enhance mailing efficiency, improve mail sorting accuracy, reduce postage costs, and achieve better returns on your campaign and marketing investments.

We’ll also cover the USPS Mailer Scorecard and its role in managing and reducing postage costs, fees, and overall mailing performance.

If you are new to the topic of address cleansing, don’t worry. We have a Mailing Terminology Glossary that should help!

What is Address Cleansing?

Address cleansing, also known as address data cleansing, is a vital procedure that enables your company to thoroughly examine and enhance the integrity of the address information it gathers. By engaging in this process, you can achieve a multitude of benefits such as optimized mailing efficiency, superior data accuracy for mail sorting, decreased postal expenses, and increased returns on your campaign and marketing endeavors. Discover the transformative power of address cleansing in refining and maximizing the value of your collected address data.

What is Address Quality?

Address quality encompasses three crucial factors: completeness, currency, and correctness. Achieving optimal address quality necessitates ensuring that your data is comprehensive, up-to-date, and accurate. Outdated or inaccurate addresses within your database can result in undeliverable mail and avoidable postage expenses. Such inaccuracies often stem from customers relocating, errors during initial address input, or incompatible address formats. Fortunately, address cleansing offers a solution to address these challenges and guarantee seamless mail delivery. Take advantage of address cleansing to safeguard address quality and facilitate successful mail operations.

Why Mailers Should Care About Address Quality?

Maintaining mailing address quality is crucial for mailers, even in the digital age. Direct mail remains an effective tool for marketers, with billions of mailers sent annually. Accurate leads and reliable data are essential for maximizing success. Undeliverable mail not only results in wasted efforts and data inaccuracies but also strains the postal system. This is particularly significant for companies dealing with sensitive and important documents such as bills, invoices, letters, and notices.

Whether you choose to manually audit your database or use address cleansing services, the measurable improvements in your business will make the effort worthwhile.

address cleansing mini glossary.
Here are some important postal terms to know if you are looking to improve the address quality of your mailings and enhance your Mailer Scorecard.

What is the USPS Mailer Scorecard?

Let’s explore another crucial aspect: the USPS Mailer Scorecard. The USPS Mailer Scorecard assesses mail preparation and determines if mailers have earned workshare discounts to offset postal handling costs. It provides a comprehensive overview of letters and flat mailing activity with the Postal Service over a calendar month. The Mailer Scorecard comprises five sections:

  • Mailer Profile: A summary of volume by mail class, eDoc types, and total revenue in a month.
  • Electronic Verification: Results from Full-Service preparation requirements, Move Update compliance, and presort preparation requirements.
  • eInduction: An overview of the number of containers on eInduction and the number of eInduction validation errors.
  • Seamless Acceptance: For mailers participating in Seamless Acceptance or Seamless Parallel, this tab offers verification results, including undocumented nesting/sortation and delivery point validation.
  • Service Performance Measurement (SPM): For Full-Service mailers, this tab presents the number of mailpieces excluded from measurement due to issues.

The Mailer Scorecard is updated monthly and uses color codes (Green, Red, and Yellow) to indicate areas of concern and improvement. Green indicates an improvement of over 5% in metric value from the previous month, red denotes a decline of over 5%, and yellow signifies thresholds exceeding those established by the USPS.

The USPS® changed its method for verifying address quality with the launch of Move Update, designed to reduce the number of mailpieces that require forwarding by matching the address records with USPS® change-of-address requests. The Move Update standard affects high-volume business mailers who need to prove their mail is compliant to avoid incurring additional fees. On the other hand, this means businesses that keep their database up-to-date and accurate will continue to enjoy existing presort mail discounts.

The ultimate goal is to improve visibility and quality metrics from a USPS level and ensure address data quality while reducing returned and undeliverable mail. Unfortunately, over 6 billion pieces of mail were returned and forwarded in 2019 alone, costing businesses around $3 per piece of returned mail. These fees add up to thousands for companies with large mailing lists.²

Tools to Help Improve Address Quality

To improve address quality, various tools and services are available. For smaller databases, in-house manual cleanup may work. However, it’s advisable to partner with a print-mail service provider that utilizes address verification software, also called an address verification API. This software identifies and corrects missing or inaccurate entries in your database and crosschecks addresses with the official USPS NCOALink database.

Commonly Used Tools to Improve Address Quality

  1. Address Verification Software: Software designed to identify and correct missing or inaccurate address entries in databases, ensuring accurate and up-to-date mailing information.
  2. USPS NCOALink Database: The National Change of Address Link database maintained by USPS, is used to update addresses of individuals and businesses that have moved.
  3. Coding Accuracy Support System (CASS) Certification: A USPS certification process that evaluates the accuracy of address correction software, ensuring adherence to USPS standards.
  4. Print-Mail Service Providers: Companies offering services for printing and sending physical mail, are often equipped with tools to enhance address quality before mailing.
  5. Address Verification APIs: Application Programming Interfaces that provide access to address verification services, enabling integration of address checks into software applications.
  6. Zip Code Gap Fillers: Tools that identify and fill in missing parts of zip codes, ensuring completeness and accuracy in addressing.
  7. Address Formatting Correction Tools: Software that automatically corrects address formatting errors, ensuring addresses meet the required standards.
  8. USPS Standards Compliance Software: Tools that help verify and adjust addresses to meet USPS formatting and accuracy standards.

These tools collectively help enhance the quality of addresses in databases, improving accuracy, deliverability, and compliance with postal standards.

While manual in-house cleanup is an option depending on your database size, it’s generally not recommended, even for smaller companies.

Optimal accuracy for mailing addresses is achieved by partnering with a print-mail service provider employing address verification software. This software identifies missing or inaccurate database entries and validates addresses against the official USPS® NCOALink database, licensed by USPS.®

improve address quality return mail graphic.
eReturn mail from FSSI helps you improve address quality and keep your company up to date with Move Update compliance.

FSSI’s Return Mail Solution, eReturn Mail

At FSSI, we prioritize staying updated and informed on all aspects related to address verification and address hygiene. We offer a solution to help reduce your undeliverable-as-addressed mail, inform you about your address data, and keep you up-to-date with Move Update compliance. Our solution is eReturn Mail.

  • Data Matching: FSSI matches USPS data with its database, eliminating the need for manual processing.
  • Unique Piece Tracking (UPT): FSSI’s UPT provides you with a convenient, easy-to-read electronic file containing data on all mail returned. This eliminates the need to sort through physical mail piles.
  • Data Formatting: The returned mail data is formatted in a way that allows you to quickly and easily manage customer addresses and make real-time updates.
  • Customer Communication: You can quickly identify and contact customers to obtain updated information, ensuring accurate and deliverable mail while avoiding postage fees.
  • Move Update Compliance: By streamlining the review process and implementing address cleansing practices, eReturn Mail helps you satisfy Move Update compliance requirements and keep your customer data up to date.

Additionally, FSSI’s Secure Destruction feature enables you to instruct USPS to destroy all “Undeliverable As Addressed” mail and forward all “Change of Address” mail to your customers, ensuring efficient handling of returned mail.

Whether you choose to utilize address cleansing services, implement address database auto-completion, or leverage FSSI’s eReturn Mail solution, the benefits of improving address quality are tangible. By saving time and money, you can enhance your communication efforts, recapture missed business opportunities, and provide an improved customer experience.


With over 40 years of experience as a print and mail service provider, FSSI is well-equipped to assist you with address cleansing and communication strategy. Our extensive relationship with USPS allows us to offer customizable solutions to streamline your mailing process and enhance the quality of your customer databases.

If you’re considering outsourcing your company’s mail operations, contact FSSI at 713.436.3300 to explore how our services can benefit your business.

Remember, prioritizing address quality is essential for optimizing your marketing efforts and ensuring successful mail delivery. Take action today to enhance your address-cleansing practices and maximize the effectiveness of both your transactional and direct mail campaigns.

Contact Us Button.


² management/19_PBCS_02698_Return_Mail_White_Paper_web_JUNE_2019_FINAL.pdf