Addresses & Their Sneaky Little Trouble Makers

Getting address details right is often a challenge for businesses, but when you do it becomes the engine that drives a business to uncover a wealth of information and measurable results.

KMS Data have discovered a few sneaky little trouble makers that appear in most address databases which at some point in time are likely to cause you to either corrupt your database, send the mail to the wrong house or play havoc with your location intelligence.

Poor addressing standards can often be the culprit for underperforming sales and marketing results, customer service complaints, poor database management and misleading business analytics. Having a focus on getting this key piece of information right should be a priority, trying to correct bad information at a later date can be costly and there’s always the risk that it ends up in a worse state.

What is seldom recognised is how important each and every part of an address is. What taught us a lesson early on was when we found a street address that appeared twice in the same postcode. Surely not I hear you say… so we checked again and now we’ve found nearly 1,900 instances of this. Here’s just one example to demonstrate what we found. Get the directions from Google Maps:

1 The Esplanade, Oneroa, Waiheke Island 1081
1 The Esplanade, Palm Beach, Waiheke Island 1081

Every component of the address is identical except for the suburb name so if you haven’t recorded that then it’s a lucky dip which one it’s supposed to be.

Now here’s the kicker – only one of them is mail deliverable so that means only one of them appears on the NZ Post postal address file (PAF) and if you are reliant upon the PAF file to either verify an address or use the delivery point identifier, you will only find the Palm Beach address. We’re now wondering how often the family in Palm Beach receives mail meant for the family in Oneroa. Random fact: over 3,500 roads in NZ are not mail deliverable.

Another example of an address that often causes errors is 10 Bridge Street, postcode 3120. This exists in both Edgecumbe and Whakatane. The trick with this one is that many residents in Bridge Street, Edgecumbe actually record their address as “Bridge Street, Edgecumbe, Whakatane 3120”. Since the Edgecumbe address isn’t mail deliverable, most address cleaning software will change it to the Whakatane address – yes it looks valid and yes it will now be postal deliverable but now your mail is going to a house 19 km’s away from the person you’re looking for. If you’re checking this one out on Google Maps make sure you enter the Whakatane address first and then get driving directions to the Edgecumbe address – this one even causes Google problems!

So that’s the duplicate road names in the same postcodes sorted but the issues don’t stop there. New Zealand has an incredible rate of repeating road names, suburb names and even town names throughout the country.

So what does all this mean? Our goal is to educate NZ businesses on the importance of recording every little bit of an address that you can. For many of our clients it’s about getting the postal address right, for others it’s more important to figure out which locations are performing better than others and don’t forget if you’re ever purchasing new prospect data and want existing contacts removed, the state and accuracy of your existing addresses is a big factor in how successful this is.

At KMS Data our primary activity is supplying prospect databases and analytical services to our clients so having good location intelligence and the best possible address information is paramount. With this in mind (and because we’re a fussy bunch of pedantic data geeks) we set off to find the most authorative physical address reference file for NZ and to our surprise no such thing existed, plan b was to build our own. It took almost 2 years to build KMS Data’s Address Vault database and it was well worth it.

Address Vault gives us over 2.2 million physical address points with complete street address, suburb, town/city, postcode, district and region information along with mapping coordinates, meshblock information and a host of other details that make the rest of our databases function with ease. KMS Data now licenses Address Vault to businesses that need the most flexible and complete physical property reference information possible. To make sure Address Vault works for every need, it can also be supplemented with information from the NZ Post postal address file so alongside “2 Vaughans Road, Long Bay Auckland” you can also see the postal details “2 Vaughans Road, RD 2, Albany”

From building Address Vault and managing our client databases, we have certainly learnt a few lessons along the way. Apart from what we’ve already mentioned above, there are three other common problems that you need to work around.

  1. No matter how hard you try to discourage it, someone will want to put special instructions in their address e.g. “Back unit down driveway” “Beside blue barn” “C/- Mr Smith” etc. In some cases having this information is helpful so most people force this in to the street address field. The better solution is to have somewhere to record this; having a special instructions field to store this detail means you’re less likely to lose this detail if you have your address database cleaned and less likely to corrupt the rest of the address information.
  2. Units of a house number seem simple enough, right? Apparently not. The most common error we see is “2- 70 Carr Road”. The issue here is that some commercial buildings do actually have number ranges e.g. 48-52 Mayoral Drive, Auckland Central. When you separate units from the street number it is better to use a forward slash “/” rather than a dash “-“ so you can easily identify which are building number ranges opposed to those that are separating a unit from the street number so 2-70 Carr Road becomes 2/70 Carr Road. It amazes us regularly to see how many people get the unit number and street number around the wrong way so make sure it is clear what information you want recorded and in what format.
  3. If you can, keep physical addresses separated from postal addresses. This way your location intelligence doesn’t get confused by postal delivery information. Few people are aware that postal details like RD 2, Albany is actually physically located in Long Bay, Auckland. Also when the RD (rural delivery) information is put in with the street address it is often mistaken to be the abbreviation for “Road”, keeping this separate makes a huge difference when you need to tidy up your street addresses. A common issue we see is where someone originally had “1 Adian Way Rd Rangiora” and now has “1 Adian Way Road, Rangiora” when it should be “1 Adian Way, RD 2, Rangiora”.

The trick to having a clean, manageable and mineable database is to separate everything out (within reason) so it is clearly identified what information you want and where. Having a robust address structure means if any work needs to be done on your database in the future, you reduce the risk of errors and corruption and duplicates become far easier to find. The best address structures we use look like the following:


Other addressing need to knows:

  • Postcodes, RD numbers and Postal Towns can change if the mail delivery route changes.
  • DPID numbers against a property can change and a large number of properties still don’t have a DPID number. Be careful using DPID’s as a unique record identifier.
  • Postal suburb names, postal towns and postal postcodes do not always reflect where the physical property is. Remember this information is used to identify postal centres that deliver the mail to the property which can be in a completely different town to where the property is.

We could go on about addressing issues all day long (and we often do!) but it all boils down to recording as much address detail as you can and making sure you have it in an easy to understand format.

If you’re not sure what the best solution is for your business, KMS Data provide free consultations and can review what you have and make suggestions that can work within the limitations your database may have, or call us to discuss if Address Vault will work for you.

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