Acquiring international customers and prospects is far more expensive than acquiring domestic prospects and customers. The cost is often double that of domestic acquisition. Servicing international customers can be equally expensive. If you are new to global addressing, you may find the topic completely overwhelming. The truth is that it does not have to be.


    We all learned to crawl before we walked. Apply the same mentality to global address data management and you will be a pro before you know it!


    One great way to get started is to chunk the project of learning global address management into tasks.


    Add these three tasks to the beginning of your project list and it will be easier to create a clear, strategic plan that will quickly produce results.


    Find Your Pain Points - Every company that has a global customer or prospect base will experience the pain of undelivered mail and parcels as well as slow delivery. Identify the countries that cause your organization the greatest pain and focus on them first.


    Visit Postal Administration Websites – Almost every postal administration has a website. The developed nations such as Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, as well as most of Europe, parts of Latin America and Asia have sophisticated websites that even offer post code look-up if you enter and address.


    Dive into each country’s website and look for information on addressing standards. If the website is in a foreign language, you can use services such as Google translate to help you understand the content.


    Gather and Analyze – Your visits to the major postal administration websites will reveal if a country uses alpha only postal codes, alphanumeric postal codes or no postal code at all. It will also tell you the typical structure of an address as well as key elements used such as city, province, and postal code. Determine if your internal systems can handle the typical address information for each of your target countries. More specifically, if the country has a sub-city such as the Colonia, which is used in Mexico, determine where in your organization’s address block this information will be stored.


    Finally, gather undelivered parcels and mail. Check the address on a sampling of pieces from each country and determine if the address on the piece adheres to the standard of the country. Be sure that elements “typically” found in a country are found in the address block. Again, one good example is the sub-city, which is found in Mexico, Japan, China and many other countries.


    Keep samples of undelivered addresses and share them with your customer service team. If you have an email address on file, you may be able to contact the recipient to ask them to verify their address. You can then compare their response to the data in your database.


    Never stop learning. Global addressing is dynamic and postal administrations do make changes.

    Sheila Donovan is President of Global DM Solutions and specializes in global contact data management and marketing. She can be reached via email at sheilad@globaldmsolutions.com