By Greg Brown

Accurate address data is imperative to running a business. Without it, you can’t ensure timely deliveries, can’t bill and get invoices paid and can’t stay in touch with customers.

However, did you know address data can also be used to deliver great insight so you can market even smarter? But the caveat is that the addresses have to be clean and accurate.

Let’s discuss some helpful marketing tools that you can use to leverage the power of the address. When you have physical addresses (locations), you can develop business intelligence that relates geographic contexts to business data. One application that is useful for this is geocoding.

Geocoding is the process of turning physical addresses into precise latitude/longitude (lat/long) coordinates. The geocodes can be visualized on a map or loaded as input for spatial analysis, so you can make smarter choices regarding targeted marketing.

But how can you convert an invalid address into a real geocode? Bottom line: you can’t. What you’ll get is a misplaced marker.

Before location analytics can unlock deep insight, you must determine if your address data is accurate. That’s where address verification comes in; it’s the first step toward key findings. Global address verification solutions, like Melissa’s, fix spelling errors, standardize international addresses to country specifications and complete addresses that have missing or invalid components. Once the data is verified, geocoding can be applied. The benefits of such accuracy and precision range from mapping, to business intelligence and to cost reduction and beyond.

Smarter marketing
Once you have verified lat/long coordinates, you can place the geocodes on a map for visualization, market analysis and strategic planning. Plotting your customers on a map helps you recognize geographic patterns that normally go undetected. That information can be cross-referenced with key demographics and used to develop targeted marketing campaigns for clusters of prospects that have similar attributes.

Geocoding also makes it easier to add key location intelligence to your customer database, such as demographics, psychographics, property data and business firmographics. The more you know about your customers, the better you can determine purchasing behaviour and tailor your messaging for improved response.

Additionally, if you have a database of customers and prospects from all over the place, and you want to direct them to your nearest store location, geocoding will help you group them by distance or radius. You can then use variable printing to personalize your direct mail campaigns and promote store-specific offers.

Driving bricks-and-mortar sales
Another benefit of accurate location information through geocoding is ease of shopping. Geocoding can power retail store location and local search lookups to help customers quickly and easily find the location nearest to them. This is a great way to drive foot traffic from your web site to your bricks-and mortar store and increase sales from impulse buys. Conversely, geocoding can help you identify an area where you might want to open a new location, distribution centre or sales office based on underserved clusters of customers. It can also help you more precisely target your direct mail campaigns to generate the most profits from your outlays.

Geofencing is a new way to increase foot traffic and sales. Here’s how it works. GPS signals from customers’ mobile devices (and tablets if turned on) are used to decipher their exact locations. The lat/long coordinates are converted into addresses through reverse geocoding and then cross-referenced against nearby store locations. When a customer enters the fenced area—or most-likely-to-buy zone—that’s when you can prompt them to visit your store by hitting their phone with real-time geotargeted text marketing messages.

What to look for
When choosing a global geocoding tool, there are a couple factors to consider. These are international coverage and exactness.

Let’s review one of the leading geocoding tools, Melissa’s GeoCoder, to understand how geocoding tools work. GeoCoder provides real-time geocoding for more than 240 countries worldwide. It can seamlessly and simultaneously work with Melissa’s Global Address Verification service to ensure standardized, accurate international addresses. Melissa’s address verification is SERP Certified and meets the stringent Canada Post test. It taps multi-sourced data and deep domain knowledge to provide the most accurate results. This helps power GeoCoder: providing the best matching and fastest processing.

Successful geofencing depends on accurate reverse geocoding

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. Reverse geocoding requires excellent coverage in your address table to be able to convert the geocode to an address. Melissa has more than 30 years of address data quality expertise and multi-source reference data from postal entities like Canada Post, USPS and other reliable sources to provide coverage and accuracy that’s unmatched in the industry.

Businesses today face both disruption and stiff competition as customers demand more relevant marketing and personalized customer service. Combine the power of the address with location intelligence tools like address verification, geocoding and reverse geocoding to gain more insights about customers, precisely target direct and digital marketing programmes and bring more customers to your site or through the doors. After all, location, location, location could be the competitive differentiator your business needs in today’s tough environment.

Greg Brown is vice president of global marketing, Melissa. Greg powers Melissa’s brand management, business-to-business, Internet and e-mail marketing strategies. He is an ANA-certified Marketing Professional; having worked for more than 15 years on both the client and agency side, he brings a unique perspective to developing creative, results-oriented marketing programmes to acquire and retain customers. For more information on GeoCoder, please visit i.melissa.com/geocoder or call 1-800-MELISSA.

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