Each year, billions of Undeliverable As Addressed (UAA) mail pieces are returned to the USPS and the availability of advanced address quality solutions doesn’t seem to help reduce these numbers.
In 2021, the total number of UAA mail pieces was 5.6 billion, and the total cost to forward, return or dispose of these pieces exceeded $1.38 billion. This cost is not only absorbed by the USPS but passed down to the mailing industry in the form of postage increases.
UAA problems can impact your business negatively in more ways than you can imagine if it's not tackled seriously. The best way to do so is to leverage advanced address quality tools and techniques to reduce UUA and improve the overall return on investment of the mailing.
Reasons for UAA
A mail is considered UAA if the address on the letter doesn’t match the USPS records. Reasons for this include:
- The address is ineligible, incomplete, or incorrect
- The addressee has moved
- The intended recipient has passed away
- The recipient refuses to claim the mail or accept the mail
- The necessary postage hasn’t been paid
Consequences of UAA
UAA problem can cause a ripple effect, affecting both the USPS, your business, your clients, and the recipient of the mail.
If your customer address database is not updated, you’ll keep incurring additional costs to have that mail piece delivered. Mail delivery carriers will also be burdened with the task of sending those mails to incorrect recipients or addresses.
There is also the consequence of delays in shipping. UAA mail pieces will have to be sent back to the sender for address correction. Before the mail gets back to the sender, the address is corrected, and the mail is shipped again, a dissatisfied customer may have already left a negative review or asked for a refund. This will lead to more loss in revenue.
Additionally, UAA can lead to failed marketing campaigns. When it comes to marketing campaigns, the timeliness of the messaging is crucial. If UAA problems are encountered during a marketing campaign, before the marketing mail gets to the intended recipient, the messaging may no longer be relevant. This can lead to a loss in revenue for your clients and also a high level of dissatisfaction.
Mitigating UAA With Address Quality Solutions
To solve the problem of UAA, mailers can combine USPS tools with third-party solutions such as NCOA links which work with certified postal databases.
Note that address quality is not a singular action, but a series of steps. At each point of the sequence, different solutions have to be utilized to provide trusted address information.
Leverage CASS Certified Software
This is the foundation of the process. CASS validates to the delivery point, that the address of the recipient exists. CASS-certified software parses address elements such as primary number, street name, etc., and matches those elements with the USPS ZIP +4 tables. Once a USPS ZIP +4 code is determined, the USPS Delivery Point Validation (DPV) Table determines if the address is deliverable by the USPS.
As efficient as the DPV is, it also has its limitations. This leads us to the next step.
Leverage Data Enhancement Services
There are Address resolution services that can provide more value in identifying a missing apartment number, or correcting a transposed primary number (e.g. 123 Main Street to 123 Main Street).
The USPS also has other databases such as the LACSlink and Suitelink which assists with converting rural route addresses to street style address, as well as appending suite numbers for business addresses.
These two databases are also part of the CASS-certified software provided by software companies. However, note that while the underlying USPS databases will be the same for all software providers, the technology utilized to parse and match data are unique to the software providers. Hence, the effectiveness and efficiency of the solution will vary among CASS-certified solutions.
Another data enhancement service that is crucial to address quality is the USPS NCOAlink (National Change of Address). Each year, about 15% of people in the U.S move to a new address, and the NCOA requires individuals to update their current address. Utilizing NCOA services will reduce UAA, improve mail deliverability, and keeps up with customers that are on the move.
And since about 60% of permanent address changes are filed with the USPS, utilizing industry services such as the Proprietary Change of Address (PCOA) in combination with NCOA will result in fewer UAA problems.
More Help Is On The Way
Poor data quality can cause companies about 15% – 20% more of their operating budget according to internationally recognized expert Larry English, the founder of Information Impact International, Inc and developer of the Total Information Quality Management (TIQM) Methodology. These extra costs can impact the bottom line of mailers resulting in a loss in revenue.
For over a decade, the percentage of return mail pieces has been at 4.22%, however, in 2021, it went up a few pointers to 4.34% despite the advanced address quality solutions available to mailers currently. About 61% of the 5.6 billion UAA mail pieces were discarded as waste, never reaching the intended recipient, and resulting in billions of dollars lost by companies, their clients, and the USPS.
Regardless of these setbacks, more help is on the way with the USPS CASS Cycle O, which promises improvements in address quality. The new features of the CASS Cycle O are expected to enable a business to save millions of dollars annually in the postal budget and other business operations while increasing response rate and customer satisfaction.
The Cycle O implementation is expected to kick off in August of 2023, so 12 months from now, mailers should be expecting CASS Cycle O certified solutions. We are hopeful, that the changes from Cycle O will help reduce the 4.22% of UAA mail pieces to the barest minimum.
Before then, get your address quality right with BCC software.
BCC Address Quality Services
BCC is your trusted leader for providing Address Quality Services that will improve your mail deliverability, and improve your bottom line.
From our DPV Processing to Address Resolution Service, and our PCOA services which ensure comprehensive address matching, you can say goodbye to UAA problems, and save on the cost associated with return mail pieces.
Get on a free strategy call with a BCC Representative to see how we can help. Use the contact form below to get in touch with us today.