Tricky Irish Addresses

Ireland doesn't have unique addresses. More than 30% are not unique. Then there are multiple versions of the same name, and that’s before you get to the Irish language versions. Little wonder compiling and maintaining accurate data in Ireland is a headache.

You wouldn’t base an important business decision on a guess, and yet in Ireland sometimes we’re forced to. Reliable data is powerful. Gaining a competitive advantage by mining it for transactional, behavioural and geographic factors is where significant advantage is to be found.

So what are the issues?

  • Non-standard formatting of Irish addresses
  • Over 30% of Irish addresses are nonunique
  • Lack of postcodes means that address capture and validation are error prone
  • Placenames are interchangeable – Bagenalstown/Muine Bheag
  • Irish and English versions of addresses
  • Urban addresses as short as 2 lines, rural as many as 7
  • Prevalence of “vanity” addressing

Free-form data entry systems, both customer facing and in-house, exacerbate each of these issues, as does inadequate training on the importance of such data and the lack of KPIs around data quality in many organisations. Put it this way a valid address is a valuable resource, and vice versa.


What might good address quality deliver?

  • Reliable and actionable customer insights
  • A minimum of undeliverable mail
  • Fraud identification opportunities
  • Enhanced brand image through better customer service
  • Easier compliance with regulatory obligation

That last point is interesting. It is often regulatory compliance, rather than marketing opportunity, that drives data quality. It is also true that internal consumers of data often assume such data is accurate and a sound basis for strategic decisions. It may not be.


Why doesn’t CRM work?

It can do, but research shows that more than 50% of such projects don’t succeed. Higher quality data is the missing raw material. This means there is enormous scope for reducing the percentage of failed endeavour. It might take longer to get the data right. It might be difficult. But CRM is a strategic investment, and the long term cost/benefit view should always take precedence over perhaps misguided short term pressure to deliver.

The potential value of a customer’s address goes way beyond its postal use as a routing instruction. This is what makes the point of entry for this data so important. It is the basis for analysis of spatial, demographic, risk, share of household wallet, socio-economic household behavioural patterns and lifestyles. It is rich data.


Why don’t companies do this better?

  • Pre-formatted drop down boxes that don’t allow for urban/rural variances, free text options that exacerbate inconsistencies
  • Separate address elements should always be specified on separate address fields. This can still remain open to individual interpretation, but it shouldn’t. Irish websites should never irritate their customers by asking for postcodes as a mandatory field.
  • Sometimes address fields are not mandatory. If you don’t tell them exactly what you want to know, they won’t tell you.

It needn’t be this complicated. Data Ireland’s PrecisionAddress software is a powerful tool, both when consumers are keying their details directly into your website or call centre staff are updating your CRM database.

You can then start to build on this fundamental accuracy. You’ve got profiling information, risk variables and geospatial data, for instance, at your fingertips, and all without the need for expensive retrospective updates. Now you’ve got a valuable asset and you’re all set to glean full value from it.


To find out more about how PrecisionAddress can iron out your Irish address data quality, contact Morgan Nolan on morgan.nolan@dataireland.ie or 01 858 4864.