Do you often send direct mail only to find out that the recipient no longer lives there? According to statistics, around 1.9% of first-class mail isn’t delivered, which equals 1.3 billion mail pieces annually or $4.2 billion in operational costs.

This problem hits particularly hard at businesses that deliver a lot of mail, including financial, insurance, healthcare, and utility industries. They invest in printing, pay shipment fees, and wait for several days to end up disappointed because of undeliverable mail and lost money. Besides, those who receive unwanted mail by mistake wonder how to return mail to senders and get irritated. This harms the business image of the company that ships these mail pieces and repels potential customers.

In most cases, the postal services cannot deliver mail because of outdated, inaccurate, or insufficient address data. The good news is that you can solve this problem.

By optimizing return mail management with customer data enrichment and other advanced technologies, you can make direct mail more reliable. This will cut operational expenses and benefit your customer relationships.

To find out exactly how to deal with insufficient address and improve return mail management, read today’s article about:

  • Reasons behind returning a package to the sender and why this may disrupt your business
  • Return mail management: How to deal with insufficient address and outdated contact details
  • How to optimize return mail management and cut costs with mail automation
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Reasons Behind Sending Mail Back and Why This May Disrupt Your Business

For mail recipients, everything is easy. The Post offers USPS Return to Sender mail service and explains how to return mail to the sender. They don’t need to pay for returning mail, just add the “No Longer at this Address, Return to Sender” or another applicable label, and let the mail carrier do the rest.

Senders have more trouble with return mail management. Business entities that communicate with customers through direct mail need to make sure mail items reach the necessary person on time. They also have to clarify why mail lands in the wrong address if it does. Here’re the most common reasons behind mail returns:

  • The recipient’s address in your database is missing some details or has the wrong format. Because of insufficient address, the postal services cannot drop the mail at a specific location.
  • The contact information of recipients has changed, but you haven’t updated it. Again, the postal services won’t deliver the mail with an insufficient address.
  • The recipient has changed the place of residence and no longer lives at this address. When the mail addressed to previous residents reaches their old home, recipients have to write Return to Sender labels.

Note that the United States Postal Service also returns unsolicited items and junk mail. Don’t send these types of communications to avoid bombarding customers with unwanted mail and improve return mail management.

Why poor return mail management harms your business

Regardless of what has caused poor return mail management, the impact of mail returned to the sender is profound. While the intended recipient doesn’t get an important message, the sender suffers from the related hassle and financial losses.

First and foremost, undelivered mail is expensive. You will lose the money invested in mail fulfillment and could even get fined by the United States Postal Service. Since January 2010, under the Move Update requirement, mailers that want to use automation or presort discounts available for First-Class and Standard mail must update their mailing lists within 95 days before a mailing. If they breach this rule, USPS is entitled to reject the mailing and impose a fine. These losses are incomparable to consequential damage caused by poor return mail management. For example, if a utility company doesn’t deliver hundreds of mail items every month, it will have hundreds of late payments. They will undermine its financial stability.


Apart from this, the problems with sending mail to the right people harm compliance. In many strictly regulated fields, you must meet deadlines to have the right to conduct activities. Therefore, a late invoice costs more than a delivery fee. Not to say that sharing confidential documents with the wrong people, you increase the risk of data breaches.

Finally, any miscommunication or delay undermines customer trust, which, in the long run, will also cost you a lot.

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Return Mail Management: How to Deal with Insufficient Address

An insufficient address label may appear on a mail piece or package that doesn’t include some details. For example, when a recipient lives in a condo, the sender often doesn’t know their full address either because this information is missing or because the recipient hasn’t provided it. As a result, the mail services return the package to the sender.

If you don’t want your customers to worry about how to return mail to the sender or report the changed address for someone else, take care of return mail management. There are several simple ways to deal with insufficient addresses and minimize return rates.

#1. Clarify why direct mail is returned with ‘an insufficient address’ reason

This is the primary step. If a lot of mail doesn’t reach the destination because of an insufficient address, maybe it’s wrongly filled. Make sure the format you use satisfies the requirements of USPS listed on this page. If everything seems right, but the mail is still often returned, consider updating your contact database as advised in the return mail management approaches below.

#2. Use return mail management services supported by USPS

You can pick one of the address tools recommended by USPS or use a third-party solution. The most popular option is NCOALink, a database with 160 million records of Americans that have filed the change-of-address request. This service enables businesses to update mailing lists with new contact details and address forms before mailing. Thanks to the latest contact information, the volume of returned insufficient address mailing significantly reduces. Some of the other services you should consider include CASS/DPV, LACSLink, SUITELink, and Intelligent Mail.

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#3. Think about alternative data enrichment solutions

Some CRMs and marketing tools offer data enrichment through built-in capabilities or integrations. Using them, you can connect mail communications with your database and digital resources to smoothly update customer information through multiple channels. For example, Inkit’s mailing tool connected with Iterable and Towerdata enables businesses to get the full mailing address even if they only know an email. This integration also allows you to enrich customer data, unify its format, and automatically update the information. The basic address services offered by USPS cannot provide this.

How to Optimize Return Mail Management and Cut Costs With Mail Automation

As it was already mentioned, mail marketing automation is great for data enrichment. It improves the accuracy of customer information, minimizing the chance of insufficient address returns. Yet Inkit’s mail automation solution can enhance your return mail management and cut expenses in many other ways:

  • Inkit supports tracking functionality. This gives you better control over mail returns and allows you to get the advantages of first-class mail at basic rates
  • Inkit’s team has significant experience in direct mail marketing and cooperates with USPS to always meet the formatting and delivery guidelines
  • The tool is fully automated, which reduces the likelihood of human mistakes and the resulting insufficient address returns or data breaches
  • Inkit gives you a centralized platform to manage customer data, communications, and expenses

Want to know whether Inkit is suitable for your business? Let’s talk about this.

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