Posts Tagged ‘Lead Validation International’

Lead Validation, Part 3: International Lead Validation

This blog concludes a series of deep dives into our DOTS Lead Validation (US and Canada) and DOTS Lead Validation – International (Global) services.

In the first blog, we dove into the core components or building blocks of the Lead Validation service: Name, Address, Phone, Email, IP Address and Business. We described how each component works, the types of tests we perform, and how these tests fit into the overall score returned, when we verify a lead through our service.

In our second blog, we delved a bit deeper into important features and capabilities of Lead Validation outside of the core components. These include Test Types, customizations, service messaging and other important outputs. These two blogs serve as a solid overview of the Lead Validation service as a whole.

In this blog, we will explore the closely related service called Lead Validation – International, which, as its name suggests, verifies global leads. Lead Validation – International corrects, validates and cross-validates name, address, phone, email, IP and business data from around the world, while providing a quality score for each component and an overall quality score for the lead.

The Similarities

The domestic and international lead validation services are almost interchangeable and share the same basic building blocks. All six components; name, address, phone, email, IP and business data, are analyzed, and most of the same basic tests are run on them. Both of these products do in fact run off of the same validation engine, and if the lead is either from the United States or Canada, the results should be indistinguishable.

In the same vein, the input and output structures for these two products are almost identical, making mapping from one service to the next extremely easy. All of the same output fields can be expected.  Even when there are differences due to different tests being run for a different country, the results are mapped back to the same easy-to-use result. Keep in mind that Lead Validation – International is a different service, and therefore a different license key is needed, but other than that a generated “GET” URL is identical.

All of this makes upgrading from Lead Validation to Lead Validation International a breeze. Service Objects is happy to help you move your license key, and best of all, there is no price difference between the two services. The same set of Test Types can also be used on both services, and work in similar expected ways: since US and Canadian leads are treated the same way in both services, it makes sense for the Test Types to be the same. There are slight differences for other countries, but those are seamlessly rolled into the same balancing and scoring that the US and Canada get.

Likewise, custom test types and customizations work the same way between these two products. Customizations are easy, since they would primarily be built into the shared engine doing the work. We want improvements made in one service to help the other! Likewise, the messaging system is also shared and can be seen in the Notes in our Developer Guide.  As before, all of the same tests are performed, so it makes sense that both services would also return the same set of notes. There are a few added notes for the international service, but these are fairly minor.

The Differences

While these two services are very similar in many ways, there are some obvious and key differences.

The most obvious is that Lead Validation is designed to validate leads only in the US and Canada, while Lead Validation International can handle all leads globally (including handling US and Canadian leads on a level equal to the domestic service). It might seem like a no brainer to just choose Lead Validation International, however, a key difference lies in how those services treat other countries.

For example, for clients who only intend to collect or process leads from the US, it is often easier for them if we just fail a lead outright because it comes from an unsupported country. In the case of Lead Validation International, we are validating the lead as is, so if it is a good quality lead from Japan, we are going to mark it as good regardless of whether it is a good lead for the user. We do identify the country represented, so programmers can either not call the service based on country or choose to exclude the results post-validation, if it turns out to be one they do not want.

Another difference in validating global leads versus US or Canadian leads is in the quality of data. Many of the core components such as name, email and IP address are fully functional on a global level and perform all of the tests successfully. Others such as address, however, use different services for handling different countries.

We are very strong in the US and Canada, with a full suite of powerful validation features. However, while we are also strong internationally, there are specific countries and/or areas that the data just doesn’t exist for. For example, India does not have postal data for large portions of the country, making it nearly impossible to do provide accurate validation. The service uses what it is available to make the best guess possible, factoring in what we do know about the location in question and how it matches with other components provided. Likewise, with phones, contact data in the US and Canada is robust, but not always the case in other parts of the world. As with addresses, we have to be creative with matching location, other data points and looking for red flags with the number to give an indication of the likelihood that it is good.

European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

This is not so much of a difference between Lead Validation and Lead Validation – International as it is a necessity of the International service. For the domestic service, Lead Validation will fail any lead that belongs to a country that falls under the GDPR. This makes sense since Lead Validation users will not be interested in correcting and validating European leads.

Lead Validation – International tracks the location of the lead as a whole as well as the individual components. Any lead or data element found to be connected to a country that falls under the GDPR will be flagged with a note “IsInGDPR”.

That said, GDPR is one of many privacy regulations that are to be enacted.  Other countries are currently working on their own privacy compliance laws and even individual states like California have plans to create their own privacy regulations.  In any of these cases, we will do our best to keep pace with them and update both Lead Validation and Lead Validation International to track and flag new privacy acts as they emerge.

Conclusion

Hopefully, this blog gives some insight into the Lead Validation – International service and how it fits into the overall Lead Validation framework. Taken together, all three blogs in this series provide a good overview of the use and value of both services. If you would like to learn more about Lead Validation – International, contact our friendly technical support team anytime!

Lead Scoring: How It Fits in with Marketing Automation

Your marketing efforts live or die on the quality of your leads. Automated lead scoring capabilities can help figure out who is a potential purchaser for your products or services, and substantially improve the efficiency of your marketing efforts. But the term sometimes confuses people, because there is more than one kind of lead scoring. Let’s examine some of the differences.

Lead scoring versus lead scoring

If you use a marketing automation platform (MAP), it is likely to have some kind of lead scoring capabilities. Contact data quality providers, such as ourselves, also offer lead scoring – in our case, in the form of our DOTS Lead Validation and DOTS Lead Validation – International products. Similar terms, but each kind of lead scoring has a totally different meaning.

Marketing automation platforms often score leads by examining criteria such as demographics, purchase history, or so-called BANT (budget, authority, need and timeline) data: Marketo, for example, publishes a useful cheat sheet regarding lead scoring strategies. These scores may involve capturing data such as location, visiting your website, downloading a white paper, past purchases, and more.

Our lead scoring is different. We filter out potentially bad leads from your contact data, before you spend time and effort marketing to them. This is because we approach lead scoring from a data quality perspective, as opposed to predicting purchasing behavior. Here are examples of some of the bad actors we can help catch:

  • Someone who signed up for your mailing list with a name of “Donald Duck” and a bogus address, so they could get a free marketing goodie
  • A contact whose mailing address is in Tennessee, but whose IP address is in Tajikistan
  • Leads that came from an automated bot designed to scrape information from your site
  • Contact data that has gone out of date or is incomplete

So which kind of lead scoring should you use? The right answer is usually BOTH: make sure you have a database of genuine, accurate and up-to-date contacts first, and then analyze their potential value as prospects. This helps ensure you are working with clean data from people who are most ready to buy.

How we score leads

Both of our lead validation products analyze over 130 data points with your contact data, returning an overall validation score between 0 and 100. The six primary components we analyze include name, address, phone number, email address, IP address, and business data. Our Director of Engineering has written two recent blog articles taking a deeper dive into how we validate and score lead data, including this article on basic capabilities, and this article on advanced features.

A key feature for both products is the ability to set specific test types, which allow you to customize your analysis for specific use cases. This feature lets you customize which criteria are put to use in processing your contact data, such as favoring business or residential criteria, or not penalizing some data for being incomplete. For complex or custom use cases, we also offer the ability to create custom test cases employing your own business logic.

Building an integrated lead scoring strategy

Service Objects’ lead validation capabilities are designed to ensure the quality of your leads at the point of entry, using a simple numerical score that can be customized to suit your specific needs. These capabilities can be integrated directly into popular marketing automation platforms including Salesforce, Marketo, Hubspot and others using real-time API interfaces.

Want to learn more? Download our free white paper Marketing with Bad Contact Data: A Recipe for Disaster, or contact our friendly product experts to discuss your own specific needs. We’re here to help put more power and efficiency into your marketing efforts and create more ROI for your lead data.

Test Types and Why We Use Them

If you have spent any time around our DOTS Lead Validation or DOTS Lead Validation International services you may have run across the input to the service, ‘TestType’. This input is arguably one of the most important inputs to the Lead Validation services, and this is your guide to understanding how to use it effectively in your Lead Validation requests.

What are test types?

Test Types help us personalize the results from the Lead Validation services to help fit the data that you want verified. The biggest reason we use test types in our services is that we want our Lead Validation service to know which data points to validate, and how to contrast and compare them against each other. The test type will specify the data points that will be analyzed and ultimately return an overall score that reflects the quality of the data points you have.

Business and Residential test types

Our test types typically analyze two different categories of lead information: Business leads and Residential leads. Business test types generally have “business” or “b” in the name. These test types will give better scores to things like business addresses and phone numbers associated with businesses. The business test types will penalize a lead if residential information is given, and conversely residential test types will penalize lead information if it is found to be associated with businesses.

Which test type should I use?

Our baseline residential test type that analyzes all sets of data is “normal1p” which tests for Name, Phone, Address, Email and IP Address. If you submit a lead to the service without one of these datapoints, then the service will penalize the lead as having missing data. Depending on your use case, this may or may not be helpful. If you are taking information on a user-entered form and want all data points provided, then this may help ensure that you get quality lead info and not just garbage information from your users.

However, if you simply don’t collect some of these data points you will likely want to look at other test types that are more suited to the data you do have present. We also have a variety of other test types that are available for use. Only collect name, address and phone? Use “n-a-p”. Want to validate everything but IP address? Use the “noip” test type when sending validation requests. Below is a table of some commonly used test types, the data points they analyze and whether they analyze business or residential information.

Test Type Inputs Business or Residential
normal1p Name, Address, Phone, Email and IP address Residential
normal2p Same as normal1p but takes in a 2nd phone number Residential
noip Analyzes everything but IP address. Has the option for a 2nd phone number Residential
n-a-p Name, Address and Phone Residential
business Name, Address, phone, Email and IP Address Business
businessonly Performs same checks as the business test type but more harshly penalizes residential inputs Business
business-noip Performs the same checks as the business test type but does not check IP Business

Custom test types

The above list is by no means a complete list of all our test types. If you don’t see a test type that meets your needs there is good news; we can create custom test types for you that best suit the data you have! We can create special rules and scoring behaviors for a test type. The best way forward for this is to schedule a call with our Applications Engineering team to go over your requirements, and we can ensure you get the validated lead information that you are looking for.

Want to learn more? Reach out to us at support@serviceobjects.com

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Dealing with Difficult Countries in Lead Validation – International

What is DOTS Lead Validation – International?

For over a year now, Service Objects has been validating leads around the world with DOTS Lead Validation – International. This service looks at six key components – name, business, email, IP address, mailing address and phone – testing, analyzing and cross-comparing each to build a certainty score of 0-100 indicating the reliability of the given data.

Lead Validation – International can be used for any type of data quality need, be it validating data in an online web form or shopping cart, cleaning up a CRM or other database, passing leads through a marketing automation platform or just running against a list. It can be integrated with any major programming language, and is compatible with all of the major CRM and automation systems.

Lead Validation or Lead Validation – International?

Lead Validation – International is the global successor to our US and Canada based service, DOTS Lead Validation. Both services generate a lead quality score using our strongest data sets and algorithms to validate and cross-compare key contact data components – name, business, email, IP address, mailing address and phone. Lead Validation – International was built from the ground up with a new interface, tests and datasets. Once this new service was up and running, we circled back and upgraded the US and Canada service to take advantage of this new interface and engine.

For the purposes of validating US and Canadian leads, Lead Validation and Lead Validation – International will return the exact same results. Choosing between the domestic or international service really comes down to your needs and the mix of international leads in your data set. Since the results for domestic leads will be the same, we generally recommend using Lead Validation – International for most lead validation where any international leads may be captured. To make it easier, the new interface is shared between both services so switching from one to the other requires only a minor update to the request URL and a new license key for the other service.

What’s new in Lead Validation – International?

The power of Lead Validation – International continues to grow as we refine our algorithms and add new international datasets. Processing international data is still one of the most challenging things we do at Service Objects, due to the logistics of getting and working with international data sources. Our latest Lead Validation – International update includes more attention to identifying questionable phone numbers, weeding out reserved phone numbers country-by-country, and looking for combinations of phone numbers that are likely to be invalid.

Additional tests have been included in the logic that cross-compares the input and component country information. These new tests allow for better resolution in validating the consistency of leads data by allowing us to check from a few new directions. Above all, the main reason for this latest update was to upgrade how we handle problematic countries.

How does Lead Validation – International deal with problematic countries?

As mentioned, the primary motivation for the recent Lead Validation – International update was to help one of our clients deal with a large uptick in potentially fraudulent leads from questionable countries, that traditionally appear at the top of generic, drop-down country lists, such as Antarctica, British Indian Ocean Territory and Aland Island. The first two have almost no population, while the latter has a small population.

Prior to this update, we considered these unsupported countries. Because it was unlikely that these leads were actually genuine, and a choice of these countries should cause them to be flagged for further scrutiny, the service would return a quick error and not charge the user for the request.

A deeper dive into example data surrounding these leads suggested that quite a lot of fraud takes place using these countries. It seems likely that many leads selecting these questionable countries are coming from automated sources, like bots. Often these leads have additional data points that do not match up well or are clearly fraudulent. Our service is well suited to identify these cases.

What’s next for Lead Validation – International?

Our engineers are constantly refining all of our services, including Lead Validation and Lead Validation – International. The current solutions are great tools and we continue to improve their processes for dealing with problematic countries or whatever the next challenge. We are constantly evaluating and adding more accurate and reliable data and while improving and refining our algorithms to detect questionable leads, businesses, and suspicious input in general.

These are just a few of the things we will continue to explore to help Lead Validation and Lead Validation – International continue to meet your needs. If you have feedback or questions regarding our Lead Validation services, get in touch with our team.

Lead concept with people and gear icons on a blue background

Why Should a Business Validate Leads?

Your business is measuring how many leads you generate with your marketing efforts. You’re even scoring your leads’ likelihood to buy with a marketing automation tool or CRM. But can your marketing and sales tools tell you if your contacts are legitimate prospects? Lead validation fills the gap between marketing automation and sales efforts, creating more visibility in marketing and more efficiencies in sales.

Validating leads can help any B2B or B2C business improve their marketing and sales tactics, but it can be especially transformational for international companies. While all businesses face the issues of incomplete, incorrect, or spam form submissions, there are unique challenges to doing business in the global market. Differences in country address formats and language characters can muddy your data. What’s more, automated validation can provide a solution to international compliance issues.

What is lead validation?

According to Michael Brenner, the CEO of Marketing Insider Group, lead validation is critical to your marketing – without it, you run the risk of grossly overestimating the ROI of your marketing campaigns. We agree wholeheartedly.

Lead validation is the process of verifying and scoring the quality of the leads you generate. It’s risky to assume that each phone call to your sales team or form completion on your website indicates a strong lead. According to a recent study by marketing services firm Straight North, analyzing over 350,000 marketing inquiries, barely half of them were legitimate sales leads. Manually sorting through past inquiries could be considered a form of lead validation, but in practice it’s inefficient. Moreover, you may not recognize typos or spam entries by sight alone.

By implementing a lead validation service, you can use automation to cross-check new lead information and push your most promising leads to the top of your sales team’s to-do list. Our DOTS Lead Validation – International service supports more than 250 countries with the most accurate, current data available and integrates with leading CRM and marketing tools like Salesforce, Marketo, and Hubspot.

How does lead validation work?

Simply put, the contact input you collect from your leads is verified as real, then compared to existing data sources to correct and append the information where needed.

How does our Lead Validation – International service work? It verifies and cross-validates contact data, including a prospect’s name, address, phone, email, and IP address against hundreds of authoritative data sources. Following verification and correction, it provides an overall quality score of 0-100 for the lead itself, and a specific quality score to each data point. Your business logic determines the parameters of how the output works with your processes. Our notes even indicate if a contact is covered by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), so you can be sure you’re in compliance.

Why is lead validation important?

Almost every department in your organization benefits from lead validation. Here are just a few of the ways that lead validation can directly strengthen your business practices:

  • Marketing – Gain a better understanding of effective (and ineffective) marketing practices, pivot campaigns quickly, and create powerful and personal marketing automation. Scores can be connected to campaigns for a more accurate lead gen reporting.
  • Sales – Spend more time and energy focusing on leads that score the highest, gain insights to leverage during sales calls, and deploy effective sales drip automation.
  • Business Development – Collect clean, accurate data to make projections and plan growth.
  • Compliance – Adhere to regulatory guidelines, such as GDPR.

Lead Validation – International can be deployed in four ways

  • Real-time API – Check and score data at the point of entry.
  • Cloud Connectors – Connect with major marketing, sales, and ecommerce platforms.
  • List Processing – Batch services are available to clean up existing databases.
  • Quick Lookups – Spot-check leads that come in through nontraditional channels.

The bottom line: validating your leads ensures your contact records are as genuine, accurate, and up-to-date as possible, and helps your team identify contacts that fall under data privacy regulations. If your business is spending time and money on global marketing and sales efforts, lead validation should be the next tool you add to your toolkit. Get your free API trial key and see how Lead Validation – International provides powerful insights to help your business grow.

Comparing Lead Validation – International Components

As with many of our services, DOTS Lead Validation – International fits in our main company objective to reduce fraud, increase conversions, and enhance incoming leads, Web orders, and customer lists. One of the main purposes of this service is to allow organizations to prioritize leads based on their quality.

This service returns an overall quality value and an overall certainty score that examines all of a lead’s component inputs – such as business name, name, email, address, phone number, and IP address – and evaluates them as a whole. The certainty score is a value in the range of 0-100 that represents the overall certainty the service provided on this lead, while the overall quality value indicates whether a lead should be rejected, reviewed or accepted. Each component has several outputs that paint a picture of the component result, including each individual component’s certainty and quality.

Which brings us to the purpose for this blog: explaining the differences between the component results of Lead Validation – International and the component services themselves.

Lead Validation – International leverages other services we offer to help it make and determine a score, because there is often confusion between these two different sets of results.

Email Validation 3 versus the EV component

What Email Validation 3 does

DOTS Email Validation 3, which is used by Lead Validation – International, follows a series of steps to determine the validity and meta data about an email address. It dives deep into the input email, with high level steps that include email correction, syntax check, DNS check, SMTP check and integrity checks. Data points returned include flags to show if the mail server is operational, will accept mail for the specific box, or will accept mail to any box in that domain. Other data points include an estimate on the validity of the mailing address, warning codes with flags indicating a bogus, garbage, spam trap, disposable, known spammer or vulgar email, and many other data points.

How Lead Validation – International is different

The key difference why one service is not a replacement for the other is because Email Validation 3 only has the email to validate against. Everything Email Validation 3 finds can be determined based on the email itself. Lead Validation – International has many fields that can help make other determinations that work in concert with the email data points. For example, Lead Validation – International asks itself how the email stands up against a name input, the name of the person on the phone contact, or even the name of the company involved in the lookup. In other words, the email is evaluated and the data is returned based on how the email results stack up against the entire lead as a whole.

Lead Validation – International could steer a user down the wrong path if they are trying to use the results to determine whether they should send mail to a given email address. Lead Validation – International gives some basic indications, but it does not reveal everything that would be helpful for validation geared towards an email campaign, because it doesn’t need to – Lead Validation – International is for validating leads as a whole and not just its parts. The evaluation of the component parts does not happen in a silo.

Address Validation versus the AV component

What Address Validation – International does

What DOTS Address Validation – International does, in a nutshell, is validate international address. (I know, it’s strange, you were likely thinking it measured gravitational waves…) But seriously and more specifically, I pulled this from our developer guides since it sums it up so well, “Address Validation – International is designed to take an international address, validate it and return a standardized international version of the address. Depending on the information available for a given address, Address Validation – International can return additional information about a given address. For example, it can return Delivery Point Validation (DPV) information for US addresses”.

What Address Validation 3 does

DOTS Address Validation – US 3 is our US address validation product. The input to the service is typically a non-standardized address, and what is returned is a standardized, deliverable (where possible) address that is validated against the latest USPS data. It also returns a DPV score that lets the user know the degrees of validation of what was determined by the service: for example, a DPV score of 1 indicates a valid mailing address was returned, and a DPV score of 2 shows that the address was not found in the USPS database of valid mailing addresses. Further, a DPV score of 3 and 4 typically indicates that portions of the address were valid but with a critical piece missing for making mail delivery flawless.

There are a lot of details returned with this service, such as features that help save on shipping costs or allow for processing the fragments of an address when companies have limited space on labels, and much, much more. The service returns a lot of codes that can help you understand the changes that were made to an address during the validation as well as error codes to tell you what went wrong.

What Address Validation – Canada 2 does

DOTS Address Validation – Canada 2 is the Canadian counterpart to Address Validation 3. The goal of the service is very similar to the goal of Address Validation 3, but due to the nature of available Canadian data it does not have all of the same type of fields. For instance, it does not have DPV scores. If this service does not return an error then you are looking at a valid address. But like Address Validation 3, it does have correction codes to guide you through the changes that were made. Since Canada is bilingual Address Validation – Canada 2 allows for French and English validations based on a Language input flag.

How Lead Validation – International is different

The magnitude of the differences here is not so large when it comes to the address component. Just like EV3 and the other components, Lead Validation – International benefits by evaluating the address with other data points outside the address component values. A perfect address in Address Validation – International may not have an address certainty score of 100 in Lead Validation – International, however, because some of the other components may have not been a good match for the address. In general there may be good reasons to penalize an address or good reasons to increase its score, based on the other components. Again, the address component in Lead Validation – International is not a strict address validation.

Name Validation 2 versus the NV component

What Name Validation 2 does

Users can use DOTS Name Validation 2 to validate names, verify name accuracy, fix unordered names and return gender information, among other details. In essence it gives you insight into a name, even providing similar names to the name in question, as well as outputs such as name origin, vulgarity, celebrity, bogus and garbage name scores. These are just a few of the main results from the service.

How Lead Validation – International is different

So what is different? Most of the things mentioned in the Name Validation 2 service can be found in Lead Validation – International, however only to varying degrees. For instance, the Name Validation 2 outputs for vulgarity, celebrity, bogus, and garbage are scores, while in Lead Validation – International they are flags, which means that the Name Validation 2 product will return greater resolution when it comes to these kinds of result fields. Lead Validation – International will have less detail on the name component, but it is not designed as a name validation service, so even in this situation this component is again evaluated in context of the lead and not the name alone.

Summary

We intentionally did not go through all the components in Lead Validation – International, because the examples above all make our main point: the underlying services work in a silo, and Lead Validation – International does not. Component results from Lead Validation – International are tightly associated with each other to help people make decisions on the whole lead, rather than just the individual components of a lead.

The decision between using one or more component services versus Lead Validation – International is tightly tied to your project requirements. For example, you might use Lead Validation – International if you have a couple or more components that you want to make larger decisions upon and don’t have a heavy requirement for the underlying component to lead the way. Conversely, if you are doing email marketing and don’t have much need for the other components then Email Validation 3 is better suited, because you’ll have access to better email data points. The same can be said for the other components.

Of course, the best way to determine which combination of services is best for your project is to talk about it. Reach out to us and we’ll go over, in detail, the advantages and disadvantages in each scenario. We are always available to help you make the best decision and make your project a success.

Lead Validation International: Best Practices

DOTS Lead Validation – International has been available for almost a year, and we have received great feedback from our customers on how they are using it. Using this feedback, we have compiled some general best practices to help you get the most from the service and learn how it helps your business.
There are two main uses for this service, prioritizing leads and regulatory compliance.

Lead prioritization

When your business generates hundreds to thousands of leads daily, it is best to prioritize them based on their quality. One of the simplest ways to determine a lead’s value is using the two outputs from Lead Validation – International; OverallCertainty and OverallQuality. OverallCertianty is a value that comes back in the range of 0-100 and represents how likely the prospect could be contacted with the information they provided. The OverallQuality output shows whether a lead should be rejected, reviewed or accepted.

Each main component of a lead (name, address, email, phone, IP address, and business) is also scored this way. For example, the address component also has certainty and quality scores directly associated with it, AddressCertainty and AddressQuality. The purpose of these individual component values is to allow you to see how the components’ scores break down and make even more informed business decisions.

GDPR compliance

The second major use we have seen for the Lead Validation – International service is determining if any component of your lead is from a country that falls under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). We have made this simple to identify by providing an output, IsInGDPR, which simply identifies that your lead is covered by the GDPR. Our customers are using this to ensure they stay in compliance with the regulation and avoid its hefty fines.

Now that we’ve outlined its main uses, let’s focus on the three most important parts of the service: Inputs, Test Types, and Outputs and how they can be used.

Inputs

The more inputs you have, the better the returns will be. The service heavily cross-references the individual inputs for each component, which means the more data points you share with the service, the better we can analyze the data.

Some organizations simply do not collect all the data points, or the data they buy doesn’t include them. For these reasons, it is very common to have an abbreviated number of inputs for the service. But Lead Validation – International goes a step further and makes adjustments along the way to help maximize results when not all data points are available. If you are missing an IP address, company name, or another data point, Test Types have you covered.

Test types

To avoid penalizing lead scores because of lack of data, TestType is a required field that works like a directive to the service, adjusting the algorithm itself to work with the data available. Using a test type is not only required, it is also just as important a consideration as the other input data. For example, attempting to validate business leads without using TestType=business will skew the results, leaving you scratching your head at the end of the day. Best practice is to match the following test type to your available inputs:

Standard test types
  • normal1p/normal2p – Incorporates all the main components except the business component. The only difference between the two types is that normal2p allows for a second input phone number, where normal1p is limited to one.
  • noip – Same as normal1p, but does not incorporate IP address input in the processing.
  • nap – Simple but common test type that looks at name, address and phone components, a second phone number is optional.
Business test types

Designed for business-to-business leads, not having a business name in a business test type is allowed, but providing a business name returns better scores.

  • business – Like normal2p, but adds the business component.
  • business-noip – Like the business test type except it does not utilize the IP address component. While designed for data with a missing IP address input, this is NOT one of the more recommended operations. Having the IP address as an input for business to business leads provides strong links to connect to other data points and provides some useful flags for fraud.
  • business-n-e-p – Checks name, email, and phone components.
Custom test types

Custom test types can be created for specific needs. In some instances, you may have a component that you don’t have much confidence in and want the system to be less strict in analyzing. Conversely, some organizations may have fields that are so critical that they want to scrutinize specific components over others. Most organizations fit into one of our predefined test types, but customizations are available to ensure unique business needs are met to maximize the results from our service.

Multiple test types

Some companies use multiple test types. It is less common to see multiple test types in the same process, because if a field is missing you likely want that lead to be penalized in OverallCertainty. However, you may have multiple processes fed by leads from several departments and various sources, so ideally you will match the test type to the process and available inputs.

Outputs

Lastly, you will want to pay attention to the OverallCertainty and OverallQuality fields when prioritizing your results. It all comes down to the higher the certainty, the better the lead. There are several factors to consider when thinking about prioritization. For instance, cost of leads, sales team bandwidth, or automated CRM lead scoring could all affect priority outside of validation. Your organization will make these considerations before making any final decisions.

The Notes field is helpful for tying everything together, and will help you understand how the return was generated. The service will output general notes about the validation such as IsNamePhoneMatch or IsPhoneAddressMatch, but also creates Notes about each individual component like IsBadStreet for address or IsPublicProxy for IP Address. Each component that can associate itself to a country can impact the output, IsInGDPR, indicating if the lead or a component of the lead falls under GDPR.

In closing, it is worth reiterating that the quality of the results from Lead Validation – International are predicated on the number of inputs and using the correct test types. This service helps you prioritize your leads, identify the weak and the strong points in your data, and stay in compliance when it comes to GDPR. If you’re working with international leads, reach out to our team to learn more about how our validation service can help your business.

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!

Data Quality and Compliance

For most people, regulatory compliance sounds about as exciting as doing your taxes. And this is actually a pretty good analogy, because compliance and taxes are both obligations that won’t go away if you ignore them.

According to a recent article in CIO Dive, being concerned about compliance is actually a good thing, because concerns about confidentiality and data security can seriously erode trust in your brand; nearly 80 percent of Internet users in the US now worry about privacy, and 84 percent worry about their data being hacked. So in a very real sense, your data quality should be an important part of your product marketing and customer service strategy.

But let’s take our initial analogy a step further. Tax software packages have largely automated the burden of doing your personal income taxes into a simple data entry exercise. In much the same way, Service Objects’ API capabilities can help you create automated processes that put much of the burden of compliance on autopilot. Let’s look at three specific areas where we can help.

TCPA. The federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) requires businesses to protect consumers from unsolicited telephone marketing, particularly wireless users. Enforcement has increased and fines are steep, up to $1500 per call or text message. And since phone numbers change owners and line types constantly, you need an automated process to verify every phone contact for every phone-based marketing campaign, at both the time of data entry and the time of use.

Our DOTS GeoPhone Plus services can help keep you in compliance by verifying subscriber names against ones you have captured with valid consent, flagging the type of line (wireless, landline or VoIP), and providing a porting date so you can comply with TCPA’s 14-day deadline for incorporating changes. Learn more about our TCPA solutions here.

GDPR. If you do business with customers or prospects in the European Union (EU), their new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) ushers in strict rules for the privacy, security, and data quality of individual consumer data as or, including clearly documented you have made every effort to keep y0uor contact data as up-to-date and accurate as possible. Fines for non-compliance can range up to €20M or 4% of annual turnover.

Article 5 of GDPR requires consumer data to be accurate, to avoid unsolicited marketing to incorrect contact information. Our address, lead and email validation capabilities can check and update your contact data, and we can also create a Certificate of Accuracy (COA) for each of your contact records to document compliance efforts. To learn how we can help you comply with GDPR Article 5, get a free GDPR Quality Assessment here.

Connect America. The federal Connect America Fund helps underwrite the build-out of voice and broadband capacity in rural areas, allowing eligible carriers who serve them to recover some of their costs from the federal Universal Service Fund. This requires documentation and verification of the locations to be served, including latitude and longitude.

Service Objects’ HUBB-compliant geolocation data can uncover more eligible locations and multi-unit sites at a fraction of the cost of physical surveys, and is guaranteed to be accepted by the FCC. Previous customers have reported discovering 20-50% more eligible locations using our capabilities, including getting funding for multiple units at a single location. To learn more about our capabilities to support Connect America, visit this page.

Here is a closing thought. As we mentioned at the beginning of this blog, few people get excited about compliance efforts. But we do! And we think that you should too. Why? Because many of these regulatory efforts are hallmarks of a new era in marketing, away from interruptive marketing and towards a new era of authentic customer engagement. We feel that organizations who take the lead in this direction will not only avoid non-compliance penalties, but succeed much better in the marketplace of the 21st century. It is an exciting time full of opportunity – and we can help you get there.

The Role of Data Quality in GDPR

If you do business with clients in the European Union, you have probably heard of the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that takes effect in Spring 2018. This new EU regulation ushers in strict new requirements for safeguarding the security and privacy of personal data, along with requiring active opt-in permission and ease of changing this permission.

Most articles you read about GDPR nowadays focus on the risks on non-compliance, and penalties are indeed stiff: up to €20 million or 4 percent of annual turnover. However, we recently hosted a webinar at Service Objects with two experts on GDPR, and they had a refreshing perspective on the issue – in their view, regulators are in fact helping your business by fundamentally improving your relationship with your customers. As presenter Tom Redman put it, “Regulators are people (and customers) too!”

Dr. Redman, known as the Data Doc, is the author of three books on data quality as well as the founder of Data Quality Solution, and the former head of AT&T’s Data Quality Lab. He was joined on our webinar by Daragh O’Brien, founder and CEO of Castlebridge, an information strategy, governance, and privacy consultancy based in Ireland. Together they made a case that GDPR is, in a sense, a healthy evolution across Europe’s different cultures and legal systems, taking a lead role in how we interact with our customers.

As Daragh put it, “(What) we’re currently calling data are simply a representation of something that exists in the real world who is a living breathing person with feelings, with emotions, with rights, and with aspirations and hopes, and how we handle their data has an impact on all of those things.” And Tom painted a picture of a world where proactive data quality management becomes a corporate imperative, undertaken to benefit an organization rather than simply avoid the wrath of a regulator.

At Service Objects, we like Tom and Daragh’s worldview a great deal. For our entire 15-plus year history, we have always preached the value of engineering data quality into your business processes, to reap benefits that range from cost savings and customer satisfaction all the way to a stronger brand in the marketplace. And seen through the lens of recent developments such as GDPR, we are part of a world that is rapidly moving away from interruptive marketing and towards customer engagement.

We would like to help you be part of this revolution as well. (And, in the process, help ensure your compliance with GDPR for your European clients.) There are several ways we can help:

1) View the on-demand replay of this recent webinar, at the following link: https://www.serviceobjects.com/resources/videos-tutorials/gdpr-webinar

2) Download our free white paper on GDPR compliance: https://www.serviceobjects.com/resources/articles-whitepapers/general-data-protection-regulation

3) Finally, contact us for a free one-on-one GDPR data quality assessment: https://www.serviceobjects.com/contact-us

In a very real sense, we too are trying to create a more interactive relationship with our own clients based on service and customer engagement. This is why we offer a rich variety of information, resources and personal connections, rather than simply tooting our horn and bugging you to purchase something. This way we all benefit, and close to 2500 existing customers agree with us. We feel it is time to welcome the brave new customer-focused world being ushered in by regulations such as GDPR, and for us to help you become part of it.

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.

Three Building Blocks to Global Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Compliance

Is your business ready for the GDPR? On May 25, 2018 a sweeping change in global consumer privacy, one that will fundamentally change the way companies around the world perform outbound marketing, will become law. This is the date that enforcement commences for the European Union’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), governing the use of personal data for over 500 million EU residents. US companies who market to customers or prospects in Europe will now face strict regulations surrounding the use and storage of consumer data, backed by potentially hefty revenue-based fines.

However, recent studies have shown that many businesses are woefully unprepared for GDPR, which will require changes ranging from point-of-entry data validation to the management of changing contact information. So, what is a good way to get started on the road to compliance? Start with these three building blocks.

For most organizations, GDPR compliance pivots around three fundamental building blocks: consent management, data protection, and data quality.

The first two of these building blocks will revolve around process change for most organizations. In the first case, consent management means that you will now need to prove that you have permission to use someone’s personal data for marketing purposes, and maintain records of this permission.

There are no exceptions to this rule for previously captured data, which means that consent may need to be re-acquired under mechanisms acceptable under GDPR. This also extends to providing easy and accessible ways for consumers to reverse this permission, extending all the way to Europe’s concept of “the right to be forgotten”—requiring you to erase all traces of a person’s contact information if requested by a consumer.

The second building block, data protection, involves deploying processes—and possibly specific people—designed to protect consumers’ personal data from unauthorized disclosure.

At a process level, this means that organizations will need to show that they have safeguards in place against personal data being stolen or misused. One popular approach for this involves pseudonomization, where key personal information is kept separate and secure until actual use. Unlike anonymization, where ownership of data cannot be reconstructed, pseudonomiization allows certain identifying characteristics to be used as a “password” to combine other separately-stored components of information at the time of use.

If your organization is large enough, GDPR may also require the formal role of a Data Protection Officer (DPO), with dedicated responsibilities within an organization for protecting personal data. The specific criteria for needing a DPO is “large-scale systematic monitoring of individuals,” along with more specific situations such as public authorities and organizations handling large scale data processing of criminal convictions. With or without a formal DPO, companies will be expected to have a documented game plan for protecting consumer information.

Finally, data quality serves as the third building block. Once upon a time incorrect, fraudulent or changing contact records were seen as an annoyance, or perhaps an unavoidable expense—and if people received unsolicited marketing materials or contacts as a result, it was their problem to endure or resolve. Today, in the era of GDPR, data quality issues can lead to compliance problems with serious financial consequences. This means that data must be verified and corrected, both at the point of entry and time of use.

Of all three of these building blocks, data quality is the one area that is probably represents the largest ongoing responsibility for most organizations. Thankfully, it is also the one that is the most amenable to automation.

Interested in finding out more about the role contact data plays in Global Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)? Visit our GDPR Solutions page, which contains a variety of resources that explain the key principles of GDPR compliance for contact data, and how automated data quality tools can protect your marketing efforts in the European marketplace.

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.