Some months ago I submitted a mailing list file to our mailer (we use Quad), and I was somewhat taken aback to get their report that over 5% of the addresses that we sent to them were invalid or incorrect.. I was thinking this wasn’t too bad a figure, but they informed me that “people who knew what they were doing” would achieve valid rating of close to 100%. My thought was to do some “pre-validation” before sending the mail file to Quad. Turns out this can get expensive. Then I found SmartyStreets.
SmartyStreets is a web-based address validator for U.S. addresses. Using the US Postal Service official address database, SmartyStreets will validate any address that you send to it with varying amounts of correction. Addresses are classified in a number of different ways, including:
- Nomatch The address is invalid.
- Mailable The address is valid and can receive mail.
- Mailable-Vacant: The address is valid but vacant
- Match-Inactive. The address is valid but inactive.
SmartyStreets has a one-off web interface which allows you to validate addresses one at a time on the fly. http://www.smartystreets.com. It will supply a nine digit zip code for valid street address, and it will suggest addresses nearby if you submit an invalid address. In short, if SmartyStreets returns an address, it will most probably be mailable. That’s what I’m hoping, anyway. I just sent a new file to Quad, and we’ll see what the accuracy is.
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The web-based interface returns, not just a corrected address but additional information such as lattitude and longitude of the address, whether it is commercial or residential,and the address’s time zone and congressional district.
Smartystreets will process lists of addresses. You can simply paste in an ASCII comma-delimited list or an Excel file containing an address list, and SmartyStreets will return the list with in a mail/no-mail format, or with about 30 fields of additional information.
SmartyStreets frequently donates their services to churches, schools, libraries, and many non-profit organizations. They have extensive documentation that explains how the validation process works, and what the results of your file can contain. And they have an API (an application programmer’s interface) which will return results in XML or JSON format.
A great addition to the mailing toolbox.