Your marketing strategy can only ever be as good as the customer information that you hold. Time wasted on sending information to customer addresses that are incorrect or invalid is not money well spent and costs can increase if reposting items or information is required. Postcode lookup, or PAF, is a tool commonly used by UK businesses that can help reduce spelling mistakes, formatting errors and misinformation. Useful when collecting customer information either online or via a call centre, PAF allows you to select an address based on the postcode entered in to the system. When used in an online form it can help reduce the input time a customer must spend filling out the required information. It can also ensure that essential contact information, such as telephone number or email address, is also captured by making certain fields of the form mandatory.

PAF is the most up-to-date and complete address database available in the UK and contains over 28 million domestic and commercial addresses. For the few addresses where local spellings differ slightly from those held by the Royal Mail, most likely to appear in the areas of the UK such as Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales where regional language differs, the system allows the customer to write their address themselves if no matching address is deemed found.

PAF can also be used to cleanse any databases you currently hold, comparing it to the Royal Mail information to ensure spelling and format is correct as well as every postcode and address being valid. PAF is supplied on disk as raw data that must be processed for use in IT applications. Versions are apparently available for those not wishing to program PAF that are sent as pre-programed applications, the list of third party suppliers is available on the Royal Mail website. More often than not, creating your own database will be the goal, and PAF lets you create mailing lists, look up addresses online, use postcode data to profile customers and allow you to capture verified information.

In addition to PAF there are also systems that allow you to ensure that emails are correctly inputted should you decide that electronically contacting your customers or clients is the route you’d prefer. Email validation will ensure that you have legitimate addresses that are live via SMTP validation and that email addresses comply with basic standards such as format (i.e. has an @ and a . in the address) and don’t consist of rude words.

Likewise, telephone validation can determine if the required number of digits for a valid telephone number has been entered, whether it starts with an 07, 01 or 01 and if it is a live number. Beyond that, it cannot confirm if that number belongs to the customer who inputted it, much like email address validation, it has the same limits. However, if you are planning on contacting your customers or clients via telephone it is well worth the time and expense to validate the information first as it will avoid calls to faxes or dead lines.

Advancements are constantly being made to upgrade and update methods and information collected to help companies maintain accurate records on the client database. While there are limits to what information can be checked, using validation software can help reduce the level of mistakes or formatting errors that can stop your information from being received by the intended recipient, saving you money in the long term.
Here at Red Star Digital, we have extensive knowledge of data collection and how to get the best from your data. To find out more about how we can help you, get in touch today.