Most business owners and marketers treat 4-digit ZIP codes as something unimportant. They fail to realize that mailing details, especially a complete ZIP code with a ZIP code extension, are a valuable source of information about customers. If they tapped into 41 thousand ZIP codes that currently exist, they'd be able to collect additional demographic data about their target audience to use for personalized marketing. Besides, verified ZIP code with four digits addresses are subject to mailing discounts and help optimize business expenses.
Are you more likely to look up a ZIP code now? Get a ZIP code finder.
The USPS offers a simple tool that enables mailers to lookup a ZIP code. Full ZIP code lookup generates ZIP code with 4 digit records based on a street address, city, and state. Learn how to use this information for business and marketing communications below.
What Is the Full ZIP Code Lookup by USPS?
ZIP code finder (Look Up a ZIP Code tool) is an online service supplied by the USPS to enable businesses, organizations, and individuals to complete a ZIP code with a 4-digit ZIP code extension. It's a web page that allows users to find an extension for ZIP code by address, search standard ZIP codes by city/state, or find a city by ZIP code.
What is my ZIP code extension? Extension for a ZIP code is four digits that correspond to the geographic segment within a five-digit delivery area.
Full ZIP code lookup uses USPS databases to generate ZIP code plus 4 entries, which are considered the complete versions of street addresses. At the output, users get the formatted address of the recipient with a nine-digit ZIP code. The first five digits stand for the delivery area or the destination post office. The additional four digits indicate a specific delivery route within the overall mail delivery area. Apart from regular street addresses, a ZIP code with 4 digits can also be assigned to PO boxes. This information helps the postal service to sort the mail and, for this reason, is rewarded with USPS mailing discounts.
Note that you will be able to complete a ZIP code with a digit extension only if the street address is standardized and validated. To clean your street address database, use postal address verification tools. A native USPS postal address verification and third-party services, including Inkit Verify, can help validate, enrich, and format the postal data automatically at an affordable fee.
Full ZIP Code Lookup for Offline Business Communications and Marketing
Once you complete addresses with extension for ZIP codes, you will be able to enhance your offline business communications and use the obtained data for cross-channel marketing campaigns. Today spray-and-pray communication approaches don't work. You need to know where a specific customer lives, who they are, what they like, and other details. It makes your messages more likely to reach the person when they are willing to respond.
Reliable address data matters both for business communications and marketing materials. Below we'll explain how the Lookup a ZIP code service can improve these aspects of your customer communications.
Offline Business Communications and Lookup a ZIP Code Tool
By offline business communications, we mean any official message a company delivers to its customers and partners. These are invoices, bills, notices, proofs of delivery, statements, healthcare reports, etc.
Such communications have several common characteristics that make ZIP code lookup for address data essential. First, most official mailings contain personal information. They include the banking details of the recipients, their contact information, healthcare details, and other sensitive data. If such mail ends up in the wrong hands, it may result in data leakage and fraud. Fraudsters will use the obtained details to access the finances of mail owners or harm them in other ways. The data leakage will cause the rage of customers' and may severely damage the company's reputation.
Second, official mailings are usually time-sensitive. It means that the business that delivers the mail and the recipients expect mailings to reach the destination as soon as possible. If a utility company, for example, gets late with bills, consumers won't be able to pay them on time.
How does ZIP+4 lookup help optimize business communications?
USPS ZIP code lookup by address adds delivery details for extra accuracy. The number of 'Undeliverable as Addressed' packages and misdeliveries significantly reduces. As a result, businesses are better protected from customers' data disclosure during the delivery. The mailing speed also increases thanks to ZIP 4 lookup as letters go straight to the destinations.
Find out some other benefits of the ZIP code finder and the limitations of the tool below.
Pros of the ZIP code finder for business communications
- Higher quality of delivery. When you use Lookup a ZIP code for complete ZIP codes, your offline communications are delivered in a single drop-off, enhancing the shipment quality.
- Better ROI and mailing campaigns. The generated ZIP code plus 4 addresses have already gone through verification and standardization approved by the USPS. The validated customer data helps to cut return rates and improve the return on investment.
- USPS discounts. If you mail hundreds of letters daily, the shipping cost will considerably affect your budget. Even one cent saved on each mailing makes a difference in the long run. The postal service is more likely to provide a bulk mailing discount if you look up 4-digit ZIP codes. Since such contact information is verified and accurate, the USPS spends fewer resources to deliver mail pieces and charges less. This makes offline business communications more cost-effective, enabling companies to optimize their operational expenses.
- Faster delivery. When Extended ZIP code lookup completes a ZIP code with a 4-digit extension, the USPS delivers direct mail much faster. Thus, businesses can send critical communications, including invoices, bills, or bank statements, within the shortest time and minimize the risk of being late. As a result, the quality of customer service also increases. People feel secure about the direct mail you send them and trust you more.
Cons of the ZIP code finder for business communications
- Poor integration capabilities. Although the ZIP code finder enriches customer data, it poorly integrates with automated mail printing and delivery systems. Businesses will need to hire a separate team that handles offline communications and organizes mail fulfillment. This strains the budget and distracts the staff from more critical business activities.
- Limited capabilities. Address ZIP code lookup does speed up mail delivery and makes you more likely to get a discount, but that's it. To send tailored business communications and track them, you will have to supplement extended ZIP code lookup with a range of other mailing services. Inkit Send is one of the options. It's an API that automates mail printing, delivery, and tracking. This tool enables businesses to deliver personalized offline communications to every customer. Therefore, if you need comprehensive automation, it's better to adopt more advanced solutions than the USPS ZIP code finder from the start.
Cross-Channel Marketing and Lookup a ZIP Code Tool
Despite the current obsession with online, experienced marketers don't abandon offline communications. High response rates and uniqueness are the main reasons. Direct mail has a 9% average response rate, outperforming email, paid search, and social channels. It doesn't substitute digital experiences but serves as a powerful alternative touchpoint to target people indifferent to online messages. The combination of online and offline allows building cross-channel marketing campaigns and enhances marketing budget efficiencies by up to 20%.
Even though the purpose and look of marketing mail differ from business communications, they both benefit from an address ZIP code lookup. Similar to business messages, marketing materials require accuracy. That's why you need an address ZIP code lookup to get complete customers' addresses and reach them at the first attempt. Otherwise, your marketing campaign will fall flat. You will send thousands of useless messages that will drift from one address to another before returning to you.
How does ZIP+4 lookup enhance marketing
Increased mailing accuracy is the primary reason to use ZIP codes lookup. Yet apart from the delivery of marketing materials, businesses need ZIP codes lookup to research their target audience. Having extended data, you can precisely detect where your potential customers live. It allows you to get to know the people you want to engage and make a personalized offer. As a result, the offline marketing messages become more relevant, and the direct mail marketing ROI increases.
Besides, ZIP codes lookup tools format and standardize the data you collect. Clean addresses mean that you can add a mailing list to automated marketing software to create multi-channel campaigns.
Here are the advantages and weaknesses of ZIP codes lookup summarized.
Pros of the ZIP code finder for marketing
- More data about customers. When you complete a ZIP code with a 4-digit extension using an Extended ZIP code lookup, you narrow down the geographic area where the target customer lives. This enables you to collect additional demographic data about your leads. You can use governmental bodies' official statistics to learn the average household income, median age, and other valuable details. Your marketing teams get integrated customer data to provide more personalized advertising across several marketing channels. For example, once you relate a specific customer to the delivery route, you can select the advertised products based on these findings. Reliable demographic data enhances the quality of all marketing communications regardless of the channel used to deliver them.
- Cheap alternative for cross-channel marketing. Extended ZIP code lookup enables low-cost cross-channel marketing. It allows companies that don't have much information about their customers and cannot afford to invest in paid services to learn a little more about their leads and reach them offline. Although due to integration issues, ZIP codes lookup tools are not suitable for fully automated cross-channel campaigns, they allow businesses to combine several channels.
Cons of the ZIP code finder for marketing
- Dependence on the accuracy of input data. If your customers share inaccurate addresses and you don't spot it before using a ZIP+4 lookup, results may be poor. Then, the extended ZIP codes you generate won't guarantee precise delivery.
- Limited capabilities. Full ZIP code lookup is one of the basic USPS services with limited data enrichment capabilities. Simply put, it may not be enough to implement truly personalized cross-channel strategies. Effective cross-channel campaigns rest on marketing automation software and require advanced tech solutions.
Examples of Lookup a ZIP Code Uses
USPS ZIP code lookup is not suitable for big data processing. It doesn't offer the automation necessary for large volumes of addresses. Still, businesses use it on many occasions to provide better support, marketing, and business communications. Here are some of the possible uses:
Customer support checks why the order is undelivered
Imagine a customer contacts your support team claiming they have never received their order. You need to find the reason behind the failure and fix everything. A wrong or incomplete ZIP code may be the problem. Then, you can use the Lookup a ZIP code tool to double-check it. Enter the address provided by the customer in the USPS ZIP lookup to generate a ZIP code. It will allow you to confirm the assumption about wrong address data or keep looking for other delivery obstacles.
Business uses a ZIP+4 lookup to build delivery routes
If you provide logistics services or deliver orders yourself, shipment optimization has a huge impact on finances and customer satisfaction. Only reliable and accurate routes based on extended ZIP codes allow reaching multiple destinations across the country in the shortest time. To achieve it, use the Lookup a ZIP code tool. It enables you to get all ZIP codes for a specific city and more precise delivery coordinates for every customer. This data will guide you on how to plan delivery.
B2B businesses double-check address details before reaching a specific partner
In the B2B segment, stakes are higher. You have fewer customers to reach, but each of them is critical for your business. If you, for example, obtain an address of a potential partner somewhere online, it's good to check it with a post office ZIP code lookup. What if the data is outdated or has inaccuracies?
ZIP 4 lookup makes your business and marketing communications sure to end up in the right hands. It also eliminates the risk of accidental information disclosure that B2B mail often includes.
4 Lookup a ZIP Code Weaknesses to Mind
Even though the full ZIP code lookup can benefit business and marketing mail, using it involves challenges. We have already mentioned that USPS ZIP lookup covers business and marketing needs only partially. It's not powerful enough to handle large data volumes. Therefore, when you find ZIP codes for addresses with the USPS ZIP lookup, be ready for the following restrictions:
#1. Inaccurate address records may be a problem
When customers share information, they are prone to making mistakes. As a result, even with full ZIP codes, you may suffer from misdeliveries. And the ZIP 4 lookup doesn't fix the problem.
Since the ZIP 4 lookup is not a comprehensive solution, it covers only a part of the processes necessary to keep accurate address data. Using it, you can get full ZIP codes but cannot guarantee the quality of collected addresses.
#2. Too much manual effort and declined productivity
The USPS ZIP 4 lookup is convenient for occasional use. Yet, you should remember that each time your staff checks an address manually, they lose time. Hundreds of such checks will start affecting your productivity. Instead of focusing on essential business processes, employees will have to validate address data manually. It's a counterproductive approach.
#3. Low automation and data interoperability
Despite offering the ZipCodeLookup API, USPS services are only partially automated. Besides, USPS ZIP 4 Lookup poorly integrates with printing and delivery solutions. Hence, you cannot automatically send personalized communications to people once you collect their data. Data interoperability is also insufficient.
#4. Not suitable for large volume mailings
Most businesses that regularly deliver mail send many mail pieces. These are eCommerce companies, healthcare providers, utilities, healthcare organizations, and others.
A ZIP 4 lookup cannot meet the needs of such a business. It's a great tool to run a quick check, but it's unsuitable for continuous address verification and mailings. Therefore, such organizations need a solution with better automation and third-party software compatibility.
Alternative Software to Automate Address Lookup and Autocomplete
If you don't want the limitations of the USPS ZIP code lookup with address data, choose alternative options. Ideally, you need an API that automatically verifies and auto completes addresses. A solution like Inkit Verify enables businesses to enhance address collection by showing verified address suggestions to users as they type. The matching addresses will appear when a user starts entering a street name and number at the checkout. These options are full, properly formatted, and validated. The end-user only has to pick the correct suggestion.
With such an API, the business instantly gets reliable records and doesn't have to find ZIP codes for addresses. Besides, third-party APIs integrate with external solutions more smoothly than USPS solutions. An API adds address validation and autocomplete functionality to existing systems, making them work as a whole. Thanks to this, businesses can use verified addresses for automated customer analytics, direct mail marketing, official communications, etc.
Learn more about Inkit Verify address autocomplete API and other Inkit products below.
Inkit for Advanced Address ZIP Code Lookup and More
Inkit is a reach enablement platform with several APIs covering versatile business needs. Those who seek software for address enrichment and verification should use Verify. It's an API that automatically completes a ZIP code with a 4-digit extension and benefits your business and marketing communications in many other ways. Once integrated with your website or app, it automatically shows verified address suggestions to users when filling out forms.
If you need automated direct mail printing and delivery apart from address verification and autocomplete, integrate Send. The tool automatically manages mail fulfillment freeing you from looking for a printing house or taking mail to the postal office. Hundreds of supported integrations make this tool particularly useful for cross-channel marketing. You get a chance to align trigger-based direct mail with SMS notifications, emails, social media, online advertising, and other digital channels.