Posts Tagged ‘Demographic Data’

Address Insight for US Addresses – A Deep Dive

Introduction

Our DOTS Address Insight – US API is a composite address-based service that provides insight and intelligence for a given location. The service has three core areas: Address validation to validate the address itself, address geocoding to provide location for mapping, and demographics to give general information about the area. The combinations of these data sets act to provide powerful insight about the location itself. This article provides a deep dive into Address Insight’s capabilities, and how they can benefit many specific use cases.

This service replaces and builds upon an earlier service known as DOTS Address Plus, adding a cleaner interface built on newer technology. By comparison, Address Insight provides access to newer data sets that were not possible to add to the older service, together with better messaging and error handling and a new dynamic interface that allows future features to be added with ease. While we will never change an expected output, this new design makes it much easier to add new content and continue to improve the service.

Address Validation

Address Insight uses our DOTS Address Validation – US service as a core building block, but adds much more to it as well. Address Validation – US provides robust address validation, correction and standardization for almost every valid address in the United States. It uses matching techniques based on sophisticated fuzzy logic to accurately deal with the most challenging of addresses. In addition to the standardized address, the service returns a delivery point indicator that indicates if the address is deliverable, parsed out address fragments and informational results such as barcode digits, carrier route, congress code and county name.

Corrections describe any changes that had to be made to the address during the standardization process. One of the more useful sections is Address Notes. Address Notes have many interesting informational results such as whether the address is a business, a residence, a PO Box or CMRA, a highrise versus a street address, or a military address, as well as whether the address is vacant or returning mail. If the note “AddressFoundByUSPS” combined with a DPV value of 1 shows up, you can be assured that the address is good, deliverable and properly standardized. More detailed information about Address Notes and other outputs can be found in our Developer Guide.

Address Geocoding

Address Insight uses our DOTS Address Geocode – US service as its core building block. Address Geocode – US aggregates multiple datasets and strong fuzzy matching techniques to return the best possible latitude and longitude values for the toughest of addresses. In addition to latitude and longitude, other key informational pieces returned include state FIPS, county FIPS, census tract, and census block. Place Name is a locality name that may be more exact than the city name that USPS knows, such as a suburb or alternative name because USPS tends to simplify the names of areas to streamline the delivery process. Upper and lower legislative chamber codes may help for political needs, tying the location to different districts to help identify which district the resident falls into.

Latitude and longitude are attained through multiple datasets, and most results will be either at the rooftop or property level. However, cascading logic allows us to use all known data points to return the best nearby matches in the event that we do not have the perfect match. All of this is clearly reported with notes signifying the match rate level we were able to find. This allows users to determine which addresses they want to accept under different mapping needs. Border testing also allows us to determine if the location falls outside of a known place, via an “IsUnincorporated” note. Knowing if a location falls inside or outside of a city’s borders may be important for a number of reasons, especially for things like taxes.

Demographics

Address Insight collects demographic and area details from a number of different sources that can provide useful information about the location. Some informational fields include area code, time zone, day light savings, MSA, CBSA, PMSA, and DMA. Sample demographics include the average household value in the ZIP code, the average number of people per household for the ZIP code and the average household incomes for the ZIP code, county and state. Demographics and geocoding can be useful for targeted marketing as well as some government compliance efforts. Some of these can be read about here in the following article, Compliance and Address Insight.

Location Intelligence

The United States Postal Service serves most of the country but its data is not 100% complete. There is a small percentage of locations that are just unknown to the USPS. Beyond the USPS dataset, this service also aggregates many other datasets. They are not all as authoritative as the USPS dataset but can still be a good indication of the validity of the location. The note “AddressFoundInSupplementalData” indicates that we have found the desired address in one or more aggregated datasets. The note “AddressIsGeneralDelivery” means that we know the area is known to be a General Delivery area (mail is delivered to a centralized location and not directly to the house) and also that we know other details such as that the street is known as valid. Unfortunately, in an extremely rare number of cases, some very rural locations may be so remote they reside on unmarked roads, making it nearly impossible to find them. However, these would be unlikely to even have recognizable addresses unless the names were made up.

These are powerful tools in helping users determine the likelihood that an address is good regardless of what is found by USPS. Users can use this information to make smarter risk analysis decisions on when to ship to a location, improve overall delivery rates and identify fraudulent or garbage data. To further help users here, a result called “StatusScore” indicates the likelihood that the location is a good one. Several conditions while looking at the address, geocodes and demographics will cause some variance but a high-quality USPS address will likely come back as 100, a location found in supplemental data will be around 85, a general delivery location would be around 70 and a steep drop-off from there will result as error conditions are found (house range out of bounds, street not found, etc.). Generally as the score dips below 60, the chances of the location being good start to fall dramatically.

Interface

Address Insight – US is built upon a new dynamic interface that allows us to safely add new data fields from time to time. Existing fields and expected values will never change, allowing users to be secure that their interface will remain unaffected by changes. However, this service is primed for new content, especially as interesting new data points become available that can provide additional details about a location. While not currently used, an input field called “TestType” is designed to allow us to interact with clients in the future, potentially building out alternative results or accessing additional datasets outside of the scope of the initial project to allow a custom experience.

Like all of our data validation products, Address Insight – US supports REST, SOAP, GET and POST requests over HTTPS outputting in XML and JSON formats. To learn more about how Address Insight – US can help your business, or obtain support for technical issues, contact us anytime.

Computer with Demographic Icons and target on the screen

Understanding Your Customers: The Important Role of Demographics

How well do you know your prospects and customers?

You know their contact data, of course: their names, addresses and phone numbers help you keep in touch with them. But are they likely buyers of your product or service? Are they likely to be Facebook or Instagram users? What kinds of marketing would most appeal to them? And perhaps most important, how can you best serve them?

The answers to these and many other questions often lie with demographic data. Demographics is becoming more important to businesses than ever – not only to stay competitive and profitable but for compliance as well. Here we’ll explore some of the ways that customer demographics help businesses grow, become more profitable, and steer clear of compliance risks.

How marketing benefits from customer demographics

Marketing professor Neil Kokemuller describes the process of marketing using the acronym S-T-P: segmenting, targeting, and positioning – and goes on to point out that demographics play a key role in the segmentation process. Knowing these demographics helps keep you from trying to sell winter coats in Death Valley, or using a tone-deaf marketing approach for Millennials.

If you’ve done any marketing, you already know that finding your audience is crucial. New companies will sometimes use surveys and make inferences, or if they have the foresight and budget, they’ll do studies before launching. But if you’ve already gone to market, there’s a wealth of information in your customer and lead databases that can drive you in the right direction.

Sometimes a ZIP code alone can provide valuable information about a potential market. (Think Beverly Hills 90210, for example.) But with the right tools, the addresses in your contact database can provide a wealth of marketing intelligence, including:

  • Age distribution
  • Income distribution
  • Racial and ethnic makeup
  • Population
  • Gender
  • Education
  • Crime
  • Climate

Once you understand what market segments exist in your contact data, you can use this additional information to create targeted marketing campaigns. You may already do this with tools like Facebook ads – for example, targeting a group by geolocation or age. But knowing the size and characteristics of the market segments in your contact database can substantially increase the specificity and ROI of your existing campaigns. Additionally, businesses maintaining demographics information on their customers can create dynamic customer profiles and personalize website experiences.

Finally, in an era of tighter-than-ever marketing budgets, knowing more about your customers and leads helps you in two ways. First, it helps you plan your campaigns around your highest-value customers, driven by data about them that refines your strategy and keeps them coming back for more. Second, it helps you avoid marketing tactics that may not be relevant to a specific group: for example, marketing homeowner products to apartment-dwellers, or investment services to college students. Or, even making sure to use large, easy-to-read fonts when marketing to older audiences.

How sales teams can use customer demographics

Once the marketing team has employed these tactics to drive quality leads to the sales team, good demographics can also help convert them into customers.

First, it helps salespeople make the best use of their time because having data on both your leads and your existing customers can be helpful in prioritizing incoming leads. Second, the more you know your prospect, the better you can tailor your pitch to their needs – factors such as average income, age or education can all inform what to expect from a sales call, as well as what issues to focus on.

How demographic data informs strategic planning

Here’s why your contact database is truly a goldmine for making business decisions: the cost of acquiring a new customer is five times that of keeping an existing one, but many companies still focus more on acquisition than retention – by over a factor of two. This makes strategic planning against existing customer demographics your secret competitive weapon.

Making business decisions such as growth, location and offerings based on demographic information from existing customers is both cost-effective and market-savvy. For example, clothing retailer Christopher and Banks has long designed their offerings around a prototypical customer demographic they refer to as “her,” consisting of middle-aged women seeking moderately-priced clothing. Strategic directions like these can then inform the marketing and sales processes, and understanding the life cycle of customer demand can also help with decisions on pricing, product changes and new service offerings.

Customer demographics and compliance

One of the fastest-growing areas for demographic data in recent years is regulatory compliance. Maintaining demographic information like household income can help your company should questions arise regarding acts such as FFIEC’s Fair Lending Examination Procedures, the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), and the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA). A recent post on compliance from our Director of Marketing Carolyn Healey examines these issues in detail, together with a powerful solution for automating the collection of compliance data.

How can we take you to the next level?

Enhancing your contact data with such demographics ensures you have the most accurate records for compliance and planning. More important, it provides a window on your market that you might never get from individual consumers themselves. It is truly the spark that can turbocharge the value of your contact data assets.

Service Objects has two complete, easy-to-implement services designed to power your contact data with demographics: our DOTS Demographics Plus service provides extensive block-level demographics for your address data based on the latest US Census and USPS data, while our new DOTS Address Insight service combines address validation, geocoding, and demographic data in a package that is custom-designed for compliance efforts such as finance, credit, real estate and more.

Want to learn more? Contact us anytime to speak with one of our friendly and knowledgeable experts.

How Location Intelligence Benefits Your Business

What is location intelligence, or LI for short? According to geomarketing firm Carto, it is the process of transforming location data into business outcomes. Today LI has become a very hot field, with projected revenues of over US $16 billion by 2021.

You probably use location intelligence in your business already, perhaps without even knowing it. If you sell to specific geographic markets, have seasonal variations in your sales patterns, or market to a targeted demographic, location data is probably part of your marketing mix. This is how we avoid pitching winter coats to people in Hawaii, or selling farming tools on Wall Street. But its applications now go far beyond marketing, into nearly every aspect of modern commerce.

How Location Intelligence works

Today’s LI works by marrying the benefits of geocoding and big data. It turns address data into exact latitude and longitude coordinates that frame information such as its census tract and usage, which in turn can be linked with associated data such as demographics, zoning, or spending patterns.

In much the same way that CRM provides you with a wealth of customer-based insight, LI can add the power of this accumulated location-based data to your business decisions. Here are some examples:

Compliance: Geospatial data can form an integral part of documenting compliance with regulations targeted at specific demographics or geographic areas. For example, the banking industry’s Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) and Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) requires lenders to support the needs of lower and middle-income borrowers as well as avoid discriminatory lending practices. And in another example, one of New York State’s largest cable providers was recently ordered to leave the state over charges of breaking commitments to roll out broadband services to rural areas.

Fraud prevention: Your bank receives a loan application from a new customer with a swanky business park address – which actually turns out to be an abandoned industrial area. Or the loan proceeds are being spent in areas of high drug trafficking or known financial crime. According to fintech expert Kenneth Goodwin, these are just two examples of how location intelligence can prevent or investigate financial fraud.

Targeted marketing: Once upon a time, companies decided where to place a billboard based on counting how many cars drove by. Today, according to ESRI’s Marianna Kantor, the out-of-home (OOH) advertising market – encompassing everything from news kiosks to municipal buses – can tap into a rich array of anonymized financial and demographic data, fed by everything from GPS data to smartphone use. At a broader level, location intelligence promises to vastly improve the granularity with which marketers can target their efforts using any channel.

Location-based offers: Suppose you walk into a ballpark, and a text message pops up on your phone offering discounts on a seat upgrade or in-game video highlights. This isn’t science fiction: it’s happening today with real-time applications such as Major League Baseball’s Ballpark smartphone app, which links ticket purchases and geospatial data to customize the live baseball experience. In the future, the potential to customize location-based customer experiences is nearly unlimited.

Putting Location Intelligence at your fingertips

Want to quickly add the power of location intelligence to your contact data processing? Service Objects offers capabilities such as Address Geocoding, which turns US or Canadian addresses into geolocation coordinates and associated data including census tract, county and block codes, and proximity to water, as well as our GeoPhone and GeoPhone Plus services that work from your telephone contact data. Use them as standalone services, or link them with other address-based data tools such as block-level demographics for a broader picture.

Any of these tools can be integrated directly into your marketing or CRM platform via a real-time API, or via a convenient batch interface for smaller applications. And you can try them out for free right now on our website, with no registration required.