Author Archive

Where in the World? – DOTS Address Detective International

DOTS Address Detective International is our latest addition to our international suite of products. The new service attempts to append a country to a lead or contact record that either doesn’t have one or helps identify that an incorrect country was connected to the record.

The service can use any combination of Address, Phone, IP Address and Email to determine the best country for the location of the input data. These components are examined individually to determine a best country or perhaps multiple potential countries and then cross-examined with each other to determine the overall best fit. This is not a simple undertaking as data is not always clean and often the result may be unexpected. However, given a few inputs, Service Objects can reliably append a country to most leads or tell you why it can’t be done. We can also help companies determine when their own methods for determining the country have failed.

Challenges for Detecting Country

There are many challenges around properly determining the country from a set of data. While we can predict a country from just one input, these challenges show why it’s important to try to validate with as many inputs as possible. Think you can tell a country by address alone? Take our short, fun Country Quiz to get a sense of how difficult this can be.

Addresses around the world have wildly inconsistent formats. The paradigm of address, city, state, zip does not apply to many countries. In addition, databases, CRMs and marketing automation platforms where user data is stored, do not always conform well to the country of the user. So, data can be jumbled around, missing or even in another language.

Phone numbers present a whole different challenge. Phone numbers are often user submitted and could potentially include access codes or call-out codes. International users may or may not include a country code and without that, it is only possible to guess at the true country based on length or format.

IP addresses are often the cleanest way to detect country but aren’t always collected or may not be the true owner’s IP, especially if it was collected from a list or secondary source. A user using a company VPN, proxy or even using a service that makes the IP anonymous can lead to false positives.

Email addresses can be the most misleading of all, since the location of the user and the mail server that host their messages may be in very different areas, especially for common domains.

Why do you need to determine the Country?

There are many reasons knowing the country of your contacts might be a necessity. Here are just a few:

Marketing. Here at Service Objects, we ask for some basic details on our registration forms before new users get started. Like many other companies, our marketing team does not want to ask for too many details, they call this signup friction. The more data fields you ask for, the more likely a prospect will move on. By detecting country, we can eliminate one more field from the form and lessen signup friction. Until recently, we have been primarily focused on companies in USA and Canada, so our in-house marketing database rarely has the contact record’s country attached to it. When it does, the contact’s country is determined by the sales team on the fly, a judgment call that can be time-consuming and error-prone, as we quickly discovered when using the service on our in-house contact records. Enterprise level companies will find this process even more challenging.

Even if your company collects country, most likely its going to be user-generated, which potentially leads to even more problems. For example, one of our colleagues admits that when he fills out a web form and country is required, he will often choose Albania as the country simply because it appears first on the list.

Cost Savings. Maybe you have an old list of contact records or a CRM full of contacts where the country was never provided and want to validate them for accuracy. Many validation services require country as an input or at the very least, have to perform a more expensive validation because the country is missing or inaccurate. Our service reliably and affordably can append the country before performing more comprehensive validations.

Compliance. The newest challenge comes from the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which regulates how companies protect EU citizen’s personal data. Companies need to know if their contacts reside in any of the EU countries covered by GDPR or risk non-compliance and heavy penalties for violations. Service Objects is dedicated to helping companies mitigate these risks by helping identify EU contact records and leads, especially those that are either missing the country or were not accurately obtained. The service will include flags identifying leads that are likely to be in the European Union or have data points within it.

We will also expand the offering to include new areas of interest as well as they form. Countries like Japan, Australia and Brazil are all moving down the path of having similar regulations and our service will assist in identifying those records as well. Used in conjunction with a service like DOTS Lead Validation International, whose purpose it is to validate the authenticity of users around the world, gives the best edge for solving GDPR and data-protection related problems.

Test Drive Address Detective International

So how do you use Address Detective International to detect your contact records’ country? Start with a complimentary API key or send us a list for batch processing. If you would like to discuss in more detail, please contact us, we love talking about data validation!

Address Detective – Why it is so cool!

Service Objects has been providing USPS CASS-Certified Address Validation services for over 17 years. Over this time, we have developed one of the best systems for validating, correcting and appending useful data points to US addresses. Our address validation service specializes in fuzzy matching for address corrections and, more importantly, making sure that each and every address provided is NOT changed to something unexpected or incorrect.

While our address validation service is top notch, the focus on both USPS and accuracy introduces necessary limits on how we treat addresses that might be messy or missing key elements.  Which brings us to one of Service Objects more under appreciated offerings, our DOTS Address Detective service.

 

Address Detective and its Operations

Address Detective was born from a need to help our customers fill in the gaps and make sense of their very messy and/or incomplete addresses. This service is an ever-evolving collection of address utilities designed to help with various problems that can arise from these messy or incomplete addresses.  Currently, there are three operations available that each solve uniquely different problems.  It is helpful to understand what each operations does and how it can be best used to correct an address before you even start your implementation.

Operation NameDescription
FindAddressUses name and phone number to assist with the processing of very messy or incomplete addresses.
FindAddressLineTakes inputs that might be jumbled into the wrong columns and parses them into a usable result.
FindOutlyingAddressesDigs into alternative data sets from USPS to identify addresses that while not deliverable may still be good addresses.

 

Address Detective’s Operations Explained: FindAddress

The flagship operation of Address Detective is FindAddress. This service was designed to help clients with addresses that may be so messy or incomplete that they may not be obviously fixable, even to the human eye. FindAddress is given free reign to be more aggressive in its basic operation but also makes use of other data points like name, business name or phone number to assist with the validation.

Behind the scenes the service will dig into public and proprietary data sources to connect the dots between given data points to return an accurate result. The service is not designed to return an address if one is not given, its designed to analyze data given with cross referenced values in order improve or validate a normally unvalidatable address.

For example, perhaps the desired address is:

Taco Bell
821 N Milpas St
Santa Barbara, CA 93103

But what if the input address is something like:

Milpas Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93103

Clearly, not enough information is given for this address to pass validation. A house number is always required. DOTS Address Detective is able to use either the name “Taco Bell” or the phone number, (805) 962-1114, to properly identify and standardize the right location. The partial input values given are still important to compare back and make sure the most accurate result is returned.

What about addresses that are even messier with misspelled or incorrect data:

Milpaaaas Str
Santa Bar, CF 93103

Given either “Taco Bell” or (805) 962-1114, there is still enough information to go on to compare, cleanse and return the correct standardized result.

 

Address Detective’s Operations Explained: FindAddressLines

The second operation, FindAddressLines, solves a very different problem. We would often run lists of addresses for clients where they would give us a .csv file of addresses with data points that were in unexpected locations. Perhaps they tracked multiple address lines in which the third or fourth address line contained the normal “main” address line.  For example; what if they had something like this:

Four Address Lines:

Address 1: Johson Paper Bag Company
Address 2: C/O John Smith
Address 3: Floor 4
Address 4: 123 Main Street
City: Santa Barbara
State: California
ZIP: 93101

If the user does not know that the needed address in this case is Address4 (123 Main Street) its possible they may be sending the address: Johnson Paper Bag Company, C/O John Smith, Santa Barbara, CA, 93101 which obviously would not be a valid address. Perhaps they have an even bigger problem and there was an error in how the address was stored or a corrupted database leading to something like this:

Corrupted Database Example:

Address 1: 123 Main St
City: Apt 5
State: Santa Barbara
ZIP: CA

Both of these cases are solved by using the FindAddressLines. FindAddressLines takes in a generic list of Address inputs and analyzes them to figure out how to properly assign the inputs to the correct fields.  The result is then validated, corrected and standardized as a normal address. While there is some synergy with the FindAddress operation here, in order to properly parse out an address, the address would have to at least look like an address.  FindAddressLines would not be able to do anything with an address of “Milpas Street” as opposed to “821 Milpas Street”.

 

Address Detective’s Operations Explained: FindOutlyingAddresses

The final operation is FindOutlyingAddresses. This operation cross references several massive non-USPS datasets to find likely good addresses when USPS cannot. While our Address Validation service is designed to accurately identify deliverable addresses and contains the vast majority of US based addresses it does not cover everything. Pockets of addresses either in very rural areas or some well known areas like Mammoth Lakes (California) do not have deliverable houses, all mail is delivered to a local post office for pickup by residents.

FindOutlyingAddresses aims to fill in the blanks of these hard to find addresses. They may not be important for mail delivery but still play a vital role in identifying lead quality. While the data returns for this operation are not as complete as our Address Validation service, we will attempt to identify the data points at the lowest level we can. Do we know the house number exists? Maybe the house number does not exist but we know the street does? This operation will return as much useful information as it can about these locations.

 

Address Validation + Address Detective = Powerful One-Two Punch

One of the best ways to ensure you have accurate and up-to-date address information is by combining our Address Validation service with Address Detective. This combination allows many of our customers to identify and repair addresses that they would have normally discarded.  We are always happy to help our clients set up this powerful one-two punch.

In its most basic form, we use Address Validation to correct and verify all addresses. Addresses that could not be validated or corrected by the initial, stricter validation process, would be sent to our Address Detective service where supplemental information helps ‘solve’ the address and returns a viable address.

 

What is next for Address Detective?

DOTS Address Detective is an ever-evolving collection of operations that were created to meet the needs of our clients. We are always looking for new algorithms, data sets and features we can add to meet these needs and help clients recover and update even more addresses.

One of the more recent requests we are working on is helping identify GDPR exposure.  Our clients need to know if a contact record resides in any of the European Countries that are covered by the far-reaching privacy protection regulations of the GDPR. It is always a little more fun to solve real-world problems that our clients are facing and we are excited to be launching a new international address detective service in the coming week to help.  (By the way, if you think it is simple to identify a country by an address, try taking this Country Quiz.)

We encourage clients and prospects alike to reach out and let us know if they have a need that does not seem to be covered by one of our current products.  Share your needs or try it today to see what DOTS Address Detective can do to help!

 

International Lead Validation and GDPR – A Perfect Match

Late in 2017, Service Objects released a new service, DOTS Lead Validation International, which is helping companies validate their residential and business leads from around the world. Lead Validation International is built on our core foundation of data validation tools and uses the best of ten of Service Objects strongest contact record validation services, providing the unparalleled ability to validate and correct leads from around the globe.  Below is a list of some of the services that Lead Validation International relies on:

DOTS services used with Lead Validation International

Address Validation - InternationalGeoPhone Plus
Address Validation - USPhone Append
Address Validation - CanadaEmail Validation
Address DetectiveIP Address Validation
Name ValidationProprietary internal services

6 Key Components of Lead Validation

Our Lead Validation International service looks at six key components: name, business, email, IP Address, mailing address and phone, performing hundreds of tests to validate the authenticity of each of these individual components, as well as, their connection with each other. A built-in scoring system provides quality scores for each of the individual components and provides a weighted overall quality of the lead based on the results from the components. In addition, a verbose notation system provides insight into how the individual scores were achieved, highlighting interesting data points both good and bad for each component.

Recently, we introduced a set of fields called InformationComponents, which allows for the seamless addition of new content and provides flexibility for our team to work with clients on custom solutions without interrupting the service for other clients. Another example of our continued commitment to improve and evolve our Lead Validation International service is helping our customers evaluate their risk with regards to the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Meeting the GDPR Needs of our Customers

Using Lead Validation International, customers can identify potential risks with regards to the new GDPR, which went into effect in most European Union (EU) countries on May 25th, 2018. These new regulations, designed to protect the personal data of users within the EU, put a great burden on companies and require them to know if their leads are physically located in the EU, as well as, making sure the contact record data is authentic and up-to-date as possible.

So how does Lead Validation International help? In addition to the primary goal of determining the authenticity of a lead and its data points, Lead Validation International is now using geolocation to help identify the physical location of a lead and the various regulatory laws and restrictions that impact that location. The potential for GDPR risk is determined by examining the individual components; Address, IP Address and Phone number of each lead, as well as the overall lead, and determining if the lead resides in a country that observes the GDPR. If a component is found to be associated with the GDPR group, it is given a note: “IsInGDPR”. From here, an analysis of all components is automatically performed to determine if an additional note of “IsInGDPR” should be assigned to the overall notes of the lead.

Companies can use these data points to help assess their risks with any given lead. As of today, Lead Validation International only tracks GDPR risk. However, as new privacy laws and regulations come out, this feature of Lead Validation International will be extended to take these new laws into account and address the needs of our customers.

Check out the power of DOTS Lead Validation International!

Customizing DOTS Lead Validation to Your Needs

DOTS Lead Validation is a service combining many of Service Objects’ key contact validation features: you could think of it as our “greatest hits.” It provides validation for name, address, email, phone, IP and optionally business information. Each of these items are validated, scored and cross-referenced with each other to build a 0-100 score that helps companies tell good leads from fraudulent or fake ones.

Its basic functionality provides a wide spectrum of detailed analysis on contact records. However, many users are not aware of the flexibility this service has, ranging from customizable scoring to completely customized solutions. DOTS Lead Validation is a highly configurable service that can be engineered to fit the needs of any client. Let’s explore how we do this.

The key to this flexibility is what we call a Test Type: a set of rules or instructions that DOTS Lead Validation uses to interface with clients to customize their own evaluation criteria. These Test Types tell the service which inputs the client has, how to weight these inputs, which tests they want to run, and how to score these tests. They can vary by client: for example, one client may require email addresses, another may not have email addresses at all, and still another may not care whether one is there or not. Lead Validation gives you the flexibility to account for any of these options.

Service Objects maintains a substantial library of over 50 Test Types for typical client situations. These cover many combinations of the main inputs: name, business name, email, IP address, phone number and street address. The most common ones are listed in the Lead Validation Developer Guide, but if you have needs that fall outside one of these, just ask us – we might have exactly what you need!

There are four main flavors of Test Type that these combinations are built on:

  • The first are the “normal” types. These are for residential contact records, and give preference to consumer leads. If you want to score leads containing personal information, this is the one to use.
  • Second, “business only” types are designed for handling strictly business leads, if you want to avoid consumer leads. Adding a personal phone number or address to a business only Test Type will lead to substantial penalties in the lead scoring.
  • A third category is the “business” type, which is similar to the business only type but allows for home business leads. It values business data, but prioritizes matching data over the distinction of business versus personal contacts. For example, if someone lists their personal cell phone as their contact number, this will not be penalized if their contact name matches the original given name.
  • Finally, “educational” types aim to be a bit more lenient on mobile students. A student is more likely to be a roommate rather than a homeowner, and more likely to have location data that doesn’t match up: for example, they live in Michigan but have a cell phone registered in Ohio.

While Service Objects’ own library of Test Types encompass tried and true scoring models that fit the vast majority of our clients, we are also willing to work with clients with specific needs. Depending on how unique these needs are, we can either create new types to add to our library, or work with a client to create custom test types for their exclusive use. For example:

  • A client may want to see everything that’s wrong with an IP address, but not have these errors affect the overall score.
  • Another client may want to remove a series of tests from being performed.
  • Still another may ask to weight a component differently: for example, they may seek to bump up the influence of an email’s result to 50% of the overall score.

Finally, outside of the Test Type process, we can periodically customize Lead Validation to allow new tests to be integrated. Each of our components (name, email, phone, etcetera) has a Notes section that allows for the addition of true/false responses, while another section called Information Components allows us to add new data values dynamically to the service.  For example, one customer recently asked us to specifically identify non-profit companies in addition to validating their business leads. In this case we added a flag called “IsNonProfit” as an identifier to the Notes section for the lead, and added an identifier for the type of non-profit company in the Information Components section.

DOTS Lead Validation is much more than a powerful marketing validation service – it is also home to a complete infrastructure for effective validation of your unique prospect database. Take advantage of our built-in customization capabilities, or just tell us your special need and we might even be able to incorporate it into the service! Try it today, and see how we can help make your data-driven marketing even more successful.

Service Objects Improves Phone Data by 200%

Service Objects works with multiple data sources to provide the most accurate, complete and up-to-date telephone number services for our clients’ needs.  Our product development team is constantly researching and adding new data sources in our on-going commitment to improving and enriching our services.  Recently, we integrated a large data source that significantly improves our phone and contact validation services, making them broader, deeper and stronger than ever.  This new data improves many areas of our phone products, whether it is our reverse look-up services that return contact data from a telephone number, appending a phone number from contact data or using the new phone data with our composite services like Lead Validation to perform complex comparison validations.  All will ensure that businesses have the tools they need to streamline their data quality initiatives.

With this new data source, contact record append services such as DOTS Geophone and DOTS Geophone Plus now have more contact records than ever before.  DOTS Geophone, which is limited to Landline/VOIP numbers only, gets the largest boost, appending about 50-60% more names and addresses.  DOTS Geophone Plus, which already boasts an industry-leading 80% return on contact names, has increased to over 85%.  Overall, address details for contacts grew from about 50% to 75%. In addition, wireless contact data, both names and addresses, should be significantly more accurate as wireless numbers are the biggest additions to our data sets.  These additional records also increase our address match rates. Users will see a significant rise in ‘High’ quality leads with the new data.  (Our services include a quality rating for each result of High, Medium or Low quality).  Finally, the new data source leads to increased redundancy and better performance, which ultimately results in even greater reliability.

Phone number append services such as DOTS Phone Append will see multiple benefits as well. Users will see that the number of contact numbers has increased by 200% with the new data, with match rates heading toward 80%.  The biggest boosts to the Phone Append service are the ability to return wireless phone numbers and the streamlined calls to the consumer and business data sets. As with the previous services, users will experience improved performance and reliability.

Composite services, such as DOTS Lead Validation, which make use of all the aforementioned services, benefits from the increased match rates and accuracy, further empowering the comparison algorithms and providing more accurate lead validation and lead quality scoring results.  These results will lead to more informed decision-making, as lead scores will more clearly move both farther up and down the quality scale, resulting in fewer leads being tagged for “Review”.

Service Objects is excited to share these new services with both existing and new clients.  If you have any questions or would like a demo of any of the products mentioned, please feel free to contact us.

 

Leverage Service Objects’ Industry Expertise to Reach Your Data Quality Goals

At Service Objects, we are fully committed to our customers’ success, which is a main factor in why over 90% of our business is from repeat customers. And with over 16 years of experience in contact validation, we have accumulated a broad base of industry expertise, created numerous best practices and are considered thought leaders in global data validation.

It is because of this knowledge that some of our customers turn to us when they lack the internal resources to carry out their data quality project. Whether it is assistance in implementing a data quality initiative, asking for customization to our products to meet specific business needs or help integrating our solutions into Marketing or Sales Automation platforms, Service Objects’ Professional Services can assist your business in achieving optimal results on your project in a quick and efficient manner.

Here are just three of the ways we can help:

Integration Programming and Code Support

If your team is overwhelmed or lacks the technical resources to integrate data quality solutions into your existing systems, Service Objects can step in and quickly get your project moving. We provide your team with the technical knowledge, support, and best practices needed to implement your chosen solution in a timely fashion and within your budget.

CRM or Marketing Automation Platform Integration

We have created cloud connectors for the leading sales and marketing platforms and have developed extensive knowledge on how these systems work with our data quality solutions. We enable your organization to implement best practices, allowing your business to verify, correct and append contact data at the point of entry. The result is your contact database contains records that are as genuine, accurate and up-to-date as they can possibly be.

Custom Services

Our engineers have years of experience creating, implementing and supporting data quality services in many different programming languages. As a result, we can customize our existing services to solve a challenge that is specific to your business. Our proactive support services team will work with your technical team to refine, test and implement the custom service to work for your business’ specifications.

These are just some of the ways we can help. For more information about how you leverage our industry expertise and technical knowledge, contact us.

What’s New: DOTS Lead Validation International

Service Objects has recently released a new member of the Lead Validation family, DOTS Lead Validation International.  Lead Validation International builds on the strengths of our DOTS Lead Validation service but adds a significant number of new tests and features.  Lead Validation users will likely find Lead Validation International familiar; however, a brand-new interface adds new levels of detail over the older service. Lead Validation International works better than ever for US and Canadian leads but now covers over 250 other countries as well. This service gives users the flexibility to validate leads anywhere in the world.

The Lead Validation International service looks at six key components: Name, Business, Email, IP Address, Mailing Address and Phone, performing over 200 tests to determine both how strong the individual components are as well as how well they connect to each other. These tests give a strong indication of the quality of the lead. Each component is given a 0-100 score, and a recommendation.  The service also provides an overall lead confidence score, giving users a lot of flexibility in how they want to evaluate their leads.

While building on the strength of the old service, Lead Validation International adds scores of new tests, digging deeper into the leads than the old US and Canadian API as well as providing new international specific tests.  The new API exposes more data and points of interest than the older API and provides more details than previously returned by the service. The Notes sections for each component highlights interesting data points that used to be more obscure. An overall Notes section highlights comparisons between data points, providing more indications of how well the various components in the lead matched each other, making it more obvious where the data broke down or providing more confidence in the quality of the lead.

DOTS Lead Validation International’s new interface also allows more customization than previous services.  A new set of fields called InformationComponents allow client specific rules and outputs to be written.  This allows new rules outside of the normal Lead Validation structure as well as the easy addition of new rules we feel could benefit all users.  One of the biggest strengths of the new operation is its ability to be tailored to almost any client need.

Service Objects has always been strong in International Name, Email and IP Address validation.  With the recent release of International Address and Phone validation products, we can cross-reference far more of the contact record’s data points to provide a qualitative view of the international lead and deeper insights into the lead, creating a fuller picture. The user will know the location of origin for all data points now and be able to find the red flags in their data.

International Lead Validation Provides the Complete Picture:

International addresses present their own challenges in identifying, parsing and outputting. While Lead Validation International is not a perfect replacement for a true international address validation tool, the outputs in this new API are designed to be as universal as possible.  Users will get a result that is formatted consistent with the country of origin, as well as details on the locality, primary administrative areas and country of origin.

International phones, address and IP addresses use a new Service Objects proprietary fuzzy location identifier that does a great job of cleaning and standardizing data points so that even the messiest of data can provide useful validation.  If the proper locations can be identified, we have the best chance of cross validating all of the components.

Our international lead service can be deployed in several ways; whether seamlessly integrating our fully supported, real-time API into your software, as a plugin for industry-leading CRM, marketing and sales platforms or as a list service to validate and improve existing lead records.  We also provide sample code, sample data and a robust developer guide to help get the service up and running.

If you are interested in learning more about Lead Validation for the US and Canada, please visit our DOTS Lead Validation product page.  If you are interested in our International service, please check out our International product page.

Service Objects integrations can help improve your contact data quality, help with data validation, and enhance your business operations.

API Integration: Where We Stand

Applications programming interfaces or APIs continues to be one of the hottest trends in applications development, growing in usage by nearly 800% between 2010 and 2016 according to a recent 2017 survey from API integration vendor, Cloud Elements. Understandably, this growth is fueling an increased demand for API integration, in areas ranging from standardized protocols to authentication and security.

API integration is a subject near and dear to our hearts at Service Objects, given how many of our clients integrate our data quality capabilities into their application environments. Using these survey results as a base, let’s look at where we stand on key API integration issues.

Web service communications protocols

This year’s survey results bring to mind the old song, “A Little Bit of Soap” – because even though the web services arena has become dominated by representational state transfer (REST) interfaces, used by 83% of respondents, a substantial 15% still use the legacy Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) – a figure corroborated by the experiences of our own integrators.

This is why Service Objects supports both REST and SOAP among most if not all services. We want our APIs to be flexible enough for all needs, we want them to work for a broad spectrum of clients, and we want the client to be able to choose what they want, whether it is SOAP or REST, XML or JSON.  And there are valid arguments for both in our environment.

SOAP is widely viewed as being more cumbersome to implement versus REST, however tools like C# in Visual Studio can do most of the hard work of SOAP for you. Conversely, REST – being URL http/get focused – does carry a higher risk of creating broken requests if care is not taken.  Addresses, being a key component in many of our services, often contain URL-breaking special characters.  SOAP inherently protects these values, while REST on a GET call does not properly encode the values and could create broken URLs. For many clients, it is less about preference and more about tools available.

Webhooks: The new kid on the block

Webhooks is the new approach that everyone wants, but few have implemented yet. Based on posting messages to a URL in response to an event, it represents a straightforward and modular approach versus polling for data. Citing figures from Wufoo, the survey notes that over 80% of developers would prefer this approach to polling. We agree that webhooks are an important trend for the future, and we have already created custom ones for several leading marketing automation platforms, with more in the works.

Ease of integration

In a world where both applications and interfaces continue to proliferate, there is growing pressure toward easier integration between tools: using figures cited from SmartBear’s State of the APIs Report 2016, Cloud Elements notes that this is a key issue for a substantial 39% of respondents.

This is a primary motivation for us as well, because Service Objects’ entire business model revolves around having easy-to-integrate APIs that a client can get up and running rapidly. We address this issue on two fronts. The first is through tools and education: we create sample code for all major languages, how-to documents, videos and blogs, design reference guides and webhooks for various CRM and marketing automation platforms. The second is a focus on rapid onboarding, using multiple methods for clients to connect with us (including API, batch, DataTumbler, and lookups) to allow easy access while APIs are being integrated.

Security and Authentication

We mentioned above that ease of integration was a key issue among survey respondents – however, this was their second-biggest concern. Their first? Security and authentication. Although there is a move toward multi-factor and delegated authentication strategies, we use API keys as our primary security.

Why? The nature of Service Objects’ applications lend themselves well to using API keys for security because no client data is stored. Rather, each transaction is “one and done” in our system, once our APIs perform validation on the provided data, it is immediately purged from our system and of course, Service Objects supports and promotes SSL over HTTPS for even greater protection.  In the worst-case scenario, a fraudster that gains someone’s key could do transactions on someone else’s behalf, but they would never have access to the client’s data and certainly would not be able to connect the dots between the client and their data.

Overall, there are two clear trends in the API world – explosive growth, and increasing moves toward unified interfaces and ease of implementation. And for the business community, this latter trend can’t come soon enough. In the meantime, you can count on Service Objects to stay on top of the rapidly evolving API environment.

Service Objects’ DOTS Lead Validation Service

Service Objects recently released the latest and greatest version of DOTS Lead Validation, our lead verification API that cross-validates five critical lead quality components: name, street address, phone number, email address and IP address. The new service includes a technology update to some of the latest frameworks, a new interface, more options for customization, enhanced reporting and new algorithms.  We explore these in more detail below.

The new operation – ValidateLead_V3 –  offers more options for connecting with Service Objects.  In addition to SOAP, GET or POST, users also have access to a RESTful interface and can now choose XML or JSON for their response.  Current users should expect about the same sub-second speed for a transaction despite the new behind the scenes engine.  While the new engine is faster, it is also doing more work.

Regardless of REST or SOAP preference, users also will have access to a cleaner more descriptive new interface in the new ValidateLead_V3 operation.  The new DOTS Lead Validation fully supports both Residential and Business leads, however, the older interface was designed with Residential leads in mind and the new version was designed for both.  Some newer optional inputs include things like Domain name and EIN (business tax identification number).  Service Objects is working to make their business offerings even stronger and will be rolling out new features month by month.  Other optional inputs include more options for names (pre-split names and salutations).

The biggest difference for Lead Validation will be on the response.  One of the most important new feature is the “Notes” sections.  Each component (name, address, email, IP, phone, etc.) as well as the overall general lead has its own independent Notes section detailing most of the interesting things we discovered about the component.  The previous version of Lead Validation was limited to the three biggest warnings to describe what was going on with a lead.  The new version includes a lot more granularity including items both good and bad.

Individual component Notes contain specific key pieces of information about the component itself that help give more details on why a high or low score might have happened.  Was the IP Address an anonymous proxy or was it known to have been used for malicious purposes?  Is an Address vacant, is it deliverable, or is it missing key information for validation?  Is the name too short to be real, does it contain vulgar words or does it match to a well-known celebrity?  Is the phone number a mobile number, does it belong to a business or it is a google voice number?  These things and many more give clearer insight to the components of a lead.

General Notes contain information about the lead as a whole, considering multiple components.  Did the name and email match up?  Did the phone, name and address match up?  Does the IP Address seem to match the Business name or domain?  General notes often give the best indication about why a lead received a really high score or a really low one.

Other new outputs include some additional component based location information. In the previous version much of that was tracked and scored behind the scenes, but in the new version all three of the main location based components (address, IP address and phone) attempt to return a locality, admin area and Country of origin.  These can help provide some insight when data points do not seem to match up.

See for yourself how DOTS Lead Validation can help your business gain immediate insight into the quality of your leads. Sign up for a free trial key and test up to 500 transactions.