Posts Tagged ‘Holiday Shopping’

Santa’s Delivery Secret: Address Validation

With the holidays fast approaching, your customers will soon be shopping online and breaking last year’s sales records. They will be counting on your business to make sure all of their packages are delivered on-time to their correct addresses. Adding to the holiday stress, there are even some Scrooges out there that will try to commit fraud.

To help ease some of your stress during this season, Service Objects is sharing one of Santa’s secret tools: Address Validation. Like Santa, you can enjoy the benefits of verifying and correcting addresses, ensuring accurate and timely delivery, while helping weed out fraudsters and malicious actors.

Simply visit our Santa’s Delivery Secret, powered by our Address Validation tools, to try it out.

If you have never used a real-time address validation service before – or even if you have – this is a quick and fun way to check up to 10 addresses.  If you are more like Santa and have a large number of addresses to check, we are here to help.  Either way, you can get started by looking up one address at a time, including business names, as shown here:
Santa's Delivery Secret

Once you enter a business or personal delivery address – anywhere in the world that reindeers fly – Santa’s helpers will be right back with a validated address, showing corrections where needed, ensuring happy deliveries.

If you have a larger database of addresses you want to validate and verify, Santa is giving you 500 free transactions when you sign up to test any of our real-time Address Validation APIs.

We’re hoping that once you get a taste of some holiday address verification – and understand how simple it is to implement for your business – you’ll want to have these capabilities for your business, all year round.

Have questions or want to learn more? Contact us and we’ll do our best to make it a happy holiday season for you too!

Holiday Shopping

Is Your Contact Data Ready for Holiday Shopping?

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.

‘Tis the Season: The Importance of Email Validation for the Holidays

People will always debate whether stores put out their holiday merchandise too soon. (Not all of you like being reminded that the holidays are just around the corner!) But we can all agree on one thing: it is never too early to make sure that your email contact list is genuine, accurate and ready for your holiday marketing campaigns.

From Black Friday and Cyber Monday all the way to the end of the year, the holidays are the busiest season by far for many businesses, particularly retailers.

According to recent 2018 statistics, as much as 30% of their sales take place over the holiday period, with total holiday retail sales climbing over the US$1 trillion mark for the first time last year – and nearly a quarter of these sales were generated through email marketing.

As the holidays approach, email validation plays a vital role in communicating with your customers and prospects. It impacts customer service issues, order confirmation, promotional marketing campaigns and sales efforts. Let’s look at some of the ways it can help make your holiday business season a success.

What email validation can do for you

When you use our DOTS Email Validation product with your email contact list, here are some of the things it will do for your holiday marketing and customer contact efforts:

Make sure your contacts are real contacts. We screen for obviously fake email addresses, so they don’t become part of your marketing contact list forever. These checks include bogus addresses, invalid domains, garbage and vulgar names, and more.

Fix common errors. With our automated syntax and error correction capabilities, you won’t lose a valuable contact because they did things like leaving off the “.com” or misspelling Gmail.

Ensure deliverability. This capability sets our email validation apart from most of the industry: we have the ability to make sure your email addresses work. In short, we check to make sure the email server AND address is able to receive email. This also includes checks for blacklists, known greylisters, invalid DNS records, and more.

Keep the bad guys out. Not every email contact has the best of intentions, and the busy holidays are classically the peak season for retail fraud. Still others steal your time by being known spammers or bots. We check for suspicious email addresses that are bogus, disposable, or known bad actors, so you can take corrective action ahead of time.

Protect your sender reputation. Even when you are careful about obtaining your email contacts in the first place, you are at risk of sending emails that could get you blacklisted from ISPs or run afoul of the CAN-SPAM Act against unsolicited commercial email – because you have little control over what a contact enters. We warn you about addresses that are known spam traps, honeypots, and role email addresses (read more about the importance of identifying role addresses from our blog, Email Marketing Tip: Dealing With Role Addresses).

Save time and money. Above all, email validation helps you market cost-effectively to a cleaner list, reducing bounce rates by up to 90 percent and making sure your message gets through to more contacts, which ultimately drives more revenue.

Taking a best practice approach to data quality at the holidays

Email validation is an essential part of your data hygiene strategy, particularly during the busy holiday retail season. Moreover, since email contact information is constantly changing, it is important to validate these email addresses at both the time of data entry and each time you run a campaign.

We make this easy for you by checking your email against over 50 proprietary tests and returning an easy-to-interpret quality score from 0 to 4, as well as specific details on the results. And our API interfaces allow you to implement email validation directly in most popular CRM and marketing automation platforms.

Want to learn more about how email validation can make your holiday season more profitable? Download our free whitepaper The ROI of Real-Time Email Validation to learn more, or contact us for a free consultation on your own specific email marketing situation.

Black Friday Neon Sign

Exceptional Customer Service Knows No Holiday

The four-day Thanksgiving weekend is traditionally the start of the holiday shopping season, with Black Friday sales bolstering bottom lines and consumer spirits. Retailers, online and off, are expected to see another year of record-breaking holiday sales.

Live support when our customers need it most

Thanksgiving has been a source of controversy in the retail industry in recent years, with more companies opening their doors for blockbuster sales on Thanksgiving Day itself – and some companies vowing to stay closed through the holiday.

Our stance? When our customers are open, we’re open. During the busiest and most mission-critical times of the selling season, like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it’s crucial that the businesses that support retail transactions are available if questions arise.

Our commitment to customer service excellence

Supporting our customers through the busiest time of the year is just one way that Service Objects is committed to customer service excellence. Our customers benefit from our sub-second response rates, 99.999% server uptime and dedicated 24/7/365 technical support. The entire Service Objects team takes pride in our customers’ success.

Record sales, record transactions

Loeb, Visa, and eMarketer predict retail sales will continue to grow, with holiday sales rising between 3.5-4.8% in 2018.

According to Geoff Grow, Chief Executive Officer at Service Objects, industry trends and forecasts predict that Service Objects will exceed transactions processed over the 2017 holiday, making Black Friday a prime day for a record number of transactions. He says, “Our services will continue to ensure that merchants can validate, clean and enhance their customer contact data in real time, backed by the support of our industry-leading technical team and extensive data sources.”

Services for busy retailers

While 2018’s projected growth presents an exciting opportunity for retailers, it is not without risk: with record sales come record opportunities for data entry mistakes and fraudulent orders.

Service Objects offers 24 different contact data APIs that validate a person’s name, global address, phone and email address against hundreds of authoritative data sources. Our tools can also append missing contact information or provide location intelligence about your contacts. We even have a service that provides sales and use tax rates based on a contact’s location. No matter what data quality challenge your business is facing, we have a solution that meets your needs.

If you have a question about how our data validation services can help your business, reach out to our team. If you’re a current customer with a support question, you can open a support ticket here.