Holiday Shopping

Is Your Contact Data Ready for Holiday Shopping?

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As I write this article, it is now just over a month before the holiday shopping period that runs from Black Friday and Cyber Monday through the end of the year – a period that, for many retail and e-commerce businesses, can represent nearly a third of their sales for the entire year.

This means that if you sell products to consumers, you have a lot on your plate right now. So I have a gentle reminder for you: if you haven’t already, you need to get your contact data accuracy squared away NOW. Let’s look at why this is important, and how to get there.

Why contact data accuracy matters

There are many reasons why having genuine, accurate and up-to-date contact data is a must – particularly as you head into the holiday retail season. Here are some of the most important ones:

Costs. You may not be shipping a 17-pound catalog to your customers or prospects, like one merchant has famously done in recent years. But whether you are mailing sales literature, contacting customers by phone, or hitting “send” on an email contact list, there are often substantial direct and human costs to using dirty or out-of-date contact data.

Compliance. Data privacy laws have changed rapidly in recent years, and penalties can be steep for non-compliance. Legislation such as the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), the European Union’s strict new GDPR regulations, the CAN-SPAM Act for email marketing, and a host of new regulations coming online all underscore the importance of sending to accurate contacts who have opted in to receive your messages.

Customer reputation. Mis-deliver an order due to bad contact data anytime, and customers will be unhappy. But do this with someone’s holiday presents or Black Friday deals, and they will be furious – and much more likely to trash you to friends, relatives, and the entire world on social media. The holiday season is much more than a revenue opportunity: it is where brand reputations live or die.

Cash flow. This is perhaps the most important reason for accurate contact data as holiday spending looms: every inaccurate lead or customer record represents a lost revenue opportunity, at a time of the year when these contacts have their greatest potential value. Moreover, capturing accurate contact data at the time of ordering is critical to ensuring customer satisfaction, reducing future customer service issues and calculating accurate shipping costs.

Confidence. Finally, from a data quality standpoint, they don’t call it “Black Friday” for nothing. The holidays are the most error-prone time of year for data capture, as customers rush to purchase deals, and are often entering unfamiliar “Ship to:” addresses for gift purchases. Now, more than ever, it is critical to validate contact data at the time of data entry – and the time of use – to ensure clean contacts. (Ok – So maybe it is also called Black Friday because retailers enter into the black for the year.)

It isn’t too late

Thankfully there are automated solutions for issues like these – and you still have time to implement a data validation API, if you move quickly enough:

  • Our DOTS Address Validation and DOTS Name Validation products can help ensure that your holiday catalogs, brochures, or advertising mailings reach their targets. We validate and correct contacts from anywhere in the world, while flagging things like fraudulent or vulgar names or non-existent addresses.
  • Our DOTS Email Validation service helps ensure that email marketing messages reach their targets and avoid spam traps and CAN-SPAM violations. We don’t just check these addresses against lists: we correct common syntax and spelling errors, flag fraudulent or garbage email addresses, and discreetly test the email servers’ ability to actually receive email.

How long will it take to implement capabilities like these within your CRM or marketing automation platform? Often less than a day, with the right programming talent – here is a recent article, API Integration: How Much Time to Set Aside, that breaks down the time needed. And you have a secret weapon to help your implementation go smoothly: our friendly and knowledgeable technical team, who is always happy to help.

There is still time to implement validation services that will quickly pay for themselves. Need help to get going? Contact us and we’ll help you hop right on it – and make this your best holiday sales season yet.

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