Posts Tagged ‘Lead Validation’

Maximizing the Value of Your Leads: A Use Case

What are the best leads for your business? Obviously the ones that purchase your products or services. Understanding what makes up these leads requires data, research and market intelligence.

Equally important, is understanding what your worst leads look like? We can help answer that one for you. Automated lead validation services helps identify leads with bad or fraudulent contact data, including people who submit fake names or contact information to get a free marketing goodie, potentially fraudulent customers, and leads whose data was entered incorrectly. Lead validation tools can also identify and restore leads with accuracy decay: over 70% of even your best leads can go bad per year.

With the aid of a little automation, you can mitigate these problems and substantially improve the quality and ROI of your lead database. Let’s look at how to make this happen.

Lead validation: an automated tool for lead quality

Our DOTS Lead Validation APIs – available for US, Canadian and international leads – are bundled products that combine the core strengths of our contact data validation services with sophisticated analysis and artifical intelligence (AI) to determine the quality of your leads.

These products validate the individual components of your lead data, such as name, address, phone, email, IP address, and more. More importantly, they also cross-validate this information and analyze over 130 data points to create a composite lead quality score from 0 to 100. In addition, they return individual scores for the quality of each element, as well as error codes for specific issues.

For example:

  • Let’s say that a lead appears to have an accurate address in the United States, but uses a prepaid phone number or their IP address shows they are in a high-risk country. Situations like these are flagged, and may be an indicator to review the lead for potential fraud.
  • Another example is testing for business leads, which are scored lower if the contact information includes a personal rather than a business phone number.

These are just two examples of how the overall score, individual component scores and error codes of these services can be used to help you make good decisions about your leads.

A sample use case for lead validation

Here is one example of a procedure for improving the quality of your leads database using Lead Validation:

1) Validate each lead at the point of capture, at each of the touchpoints where leads are normally acquired: for example, web-based forms, internal data entry, or third-party lists or sources. These are the “rivers” that feed the “lake” of your contact database, and validation at the time of data entry allows you to catch incorrect or fraudulent leads before they pollute your data. The API interface of Lead Validation makes it possible to incorporate these capabilities directly within major business automation platforms.

2) Validate and correct leads when you are preparing outreach and marketing campaigns. This helps recover and update leads that may have changed since initially being captured. This keeps the “lake” clean for the “rivers” that use this data downstream. This not only improves contact record accuracy and determines lead quality, but can also allow you to build business logic and processes around quality scores.

3) Create business logic that routes the highest (composite) lead quality score to your best sales representatives.

4) Use individual contact data element scores to determine the best way to reach a prospect. For example:

Contact data Marketing strategy
Bad (or no) phone / Bad Email / Good Address Direct mail
Good Phone / Good Email / Good Address Omni-channel marketing
Bad phone / Good email / Bad address Email campaign only

5) Use lead quality ratings to help evaluate and set marketing and sales performance metrics. For example, a poor quality phone number score might result in lower call center contact rate expectations.

6) Send poor quality leads to a lead recovery team, where they can research the lead for additional contact details and/or determine that the lead is fake or not salvageable.

7) Evaluate the quality of third-party lead lists by running them against the Lead Validation tool. Depending on the results you can negotiate the price for the list, choose not to work with a particular vendor, or buy with confidence.

The benefits of lead validation

Automated lead validation improves your marketing efforts in many tangible ways. First, it substantially improves the ROI of your lead follow-up. Second, it saves resources in terms of both money and human time that would be wasted pursuing inappropriate leads – particularly with high cost-per-lead channels such as direct mail or outbound telephone marketing. Third, you gain visibility about lead quality that lets your best team members execute better, while setting appropriate expectations for converting specific lead groupings.

There is also a substantial intangible benefit to improving the data quality of your leads. Your marketing and sales team’s morale will improve as they work with higher quality leads, resulting in better esprit de corps, particularly for people on commission – which in turn fuels employee retention and ultimately feeds back into better performance. Lead validation is a case where a small investment in your business process can pay big dividends in producing happy people, better results and more revenue.

Interested in learning how lead validation can help your business? Contact our data quality specialists to review your needs or schedule a demo to see how our services work.

Your Contact Data Doesn’t Keep Fresh Very Long

Your company’s revenue most likely depends on having accurate, genuine and up-to-date contact data. In fact, this is probably one of the biggest factors in the overall ROI of your contact database. In light of this, it is essential to have a clear understanding of how and why contact data decays – and more importantly, what you can do about it.

Contact data decay: a fact of life

A widely held figure nowadays is that business contact databases decay at a rate of about 30% per year on average. And much of this decay takes place for reasons that you have no control over. For example, look at some of the things that can happen with B2B contact data alone:

  • People move and change jobs
  • Contacts get promoted to new responsibilities
  • Your contact’s organization moved to a new headquarters across town
  • Life goes on and contacts get married, change careers or retire
  • Corporate changes such as layoffs or downsizing impact your active contacts
  • Product lines or service areas change or become obsolete
  • Even when people’s jobs stay the same, their phone numbers or email addresses change

And when you look at marketing to consumers, issues such as data privacy compliance and business reputation come into play as well. That phone number you contacted for your last marketing campaign may have opted in at one point, but now it has changed hands to a new wireless user who didn’t give you permission to contact them – and now you have run afoul of the US Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), with liability for stiff fines. And then there is the question of reputational damage from using outdated contact data – no one likes to receive unsolicited marketing messages.

This means that good data hygiene is no longer an option for companies of any size. Aside from risks such as compliance penalties and reputational damage, data decay has a real competitive impact on the return on your marketing efforts: for example, in 2017 the ROI of email marketing alone was $41 per $1 spent, with other channels such as mobile marketing also in double digits.

Today’s contact data needs to be seen for what it is: a perishable asset that requires regular maintenance.

Managing changes in contact data

Thankfully automated validation tools can help make solving contact data decay a regular part of your business process. Here are some of the options that you have with our products:

  • Individual component validation products such as DOTS Address Validation, DOTS Email Validation and DOTS GeoPhone can validate component contact information and verify that it is still accurate.
  • Bundled validation tools such as DOTS Lead Validation cross-validates and corrects your contact data against numerous data points, returning a quantitative confidence score that alerts you to changes in this data.
  • For important contacts that you wish to maintain correspondence with, our USPS-approved DOTS NCOA Live product links with official change-of-address data to keep your contact addresses up to date.

Our data quality tools are available through API interfaces that integrate directly with popular CRM and marketing automation platforms, as well as through cloud connectors, batch list processing and quick lookup options. Want to learn more about how to solve your own specific contact data issues? Our knowledgeable data quality professionals are happy to help: contact us anytime for a friendly, no-pressure consultation.

Using Business Logic with Validation Tools

According to Investopedia, business logic is defined as “the custom rules or algorithms that handle the exchange of information between a database and user interface.”

In the world of data quality, you can often leverage business logic to substantially increase the value of results you get back from external solutions like Service Objects validation tools. Helping us understand your use cases is the first step to creating impactful business logic coupled with our validation services. In this blog, we would like to share a few simple examples of how this works in some of our customers’ businesses, increasing their productivity and reducing wasted resources.

Case #1: Where do the leads go?

A marketing lead is a marketing lead, right? Wrong. That lead could be a hot prospect, luke-warm opportunity that requires nurturing or a bogus customer who signed up under a false name to obtain a marketing freebie.

Our DOTS Lead Validation service helps you sort out good leads from bad ones, analyzing over 130 data points and cross-validating contact components such as name, address, email, phone and IP address to check for the validity of the lead. This tool checks the quality and consistency of each of these components, returning a composite lead quality score ranging from 0 to 100 as well as Notes codes for specific issues, such as bad addresses or bogus names.

Using these outputs, you can create business logic to ensure your highest quality leads are automatically routed to your top-performing sales teams, leads that require nurturing are sent to your marketing automation platform and fraudulent and dead-weight leads are cleared from your sales funnel. You can also leverage these outputs to check for specific concerns common to their business, such as leads with a high risk for fraud.

Case #2: Managing deliverability

Similarly, an address is not always an address, at least in the sense of being deliverable by the US Postal Service. Some perfectly valid locations have addresses that do not receive mail from USPS, such as rural or general delivery locations. However, you still may be able to ship to these addresses using other third-party carriers, and knowing this information can be critical to executing a customer’s order.

Our DOTS Address Validation – US can easily determine when a delivery address provided is NOT deliverable via postal mail, using up-to-date data directly from USPS. Business logic or rules can then be written to handle this scenario in a number of different ways – for example:

  • At the time of entry, alert the user that their address is not deliverable and ask for a different address.
  • In real-time, determine which shippers can be used for this address and present them to the customer for them to choose.
  • Automatically assign the order to a third-party shipper that can deliver to the address provided and provide real-time pricing.
  • If the address is undeliverable, failover to our DOTS Address Detective service that can try to resolve or recommend the correct address (although it still may not be deliverable by USPS).

Case #3: Targeted marketing

Contact addresses are a goldmine of associated data, including their geographic location as well as demographic information for people who reside in this area.

Using products such as our DOTS Address Insight and DOTS Demographics Plus, you can target marketing efforts around data such as education, median income, ethnicity, age distribution, and much more. This data can combine with your business logic to target custom offers or information to specific markets. For example, you can use average salary information to craft a financially appropriate product or offering to the area.

Putting validation data to work for you

Service Objects data validation products offer a tremendous range of capabilities for verifying, cleaning and appending data to your contact data. But when you integrate these tools with your business automation platforms, using API interfaces and business logic, you gain the ability to leverage these results for your unique business needs.

We are experts at how to integrate these tools with the unique needs of your business. Want to discuss your specific situation? Contact one of our experienced data professionals any time.

The Latest Trends in Fraud and Identity Verification

Fraud is big business nowadays, and 2019 has been no exception. According to IDology’s Seventh Annual Fraud Report, overall levels of fraud remain similar to previous years, with online fraud reported to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center alone totaling over US $2.7 billion last year. However, there are some interesting year-over-year trends in this year’s report, which surveyed over 200 respondents across 164 companies. Here are some of the more important ones:

  • While companies report similar fraud levels versus last year, including fewer companies reporting fraud increases, 58% of firms report higher online fraud losses. Moreover, the average transactional value of fraud is increasingly shifting from high-ticket items to the under-$500 range, as fraudsters try harder to stay under the radar.
  • One particularly growing area of fraud nowadays is synthetic identify fraud, where criminals combine real information such as stolen Social Security numbers with false identities to open new accounts and make fraudulent charges.
  • The biggest challenge companies see in fraud deterrence – by a large margin of 64% – is balancing fraud prevention against customer friction.
  • 80% of companies feel that address verification is either “extremely” or “very” important to the identity verification process. However, survey respondents had a decidedly mixed view of whether their companies took a strategic, comprehensive approach to identity verification and fraud prevention, with an average ranking just below the midpoint between strongly agreeing and disagreeing.

Looking to the future, trends respondents see ahead include verification via mobile device attributes, artificial intelligence and machine learning, address verification and geolocation, and increased compliance and regulatory requirements. In particular, more than half of firms surveyed feel that the impact of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) going into effect in 2020 may or will be more burdensome compared with the managing Europe’s current GDPR data privacy regulations.

The importance of identity verification

Perhaps you might have noticed a common denominator across most of these trends: many of them revolve around the need verify the identity of leads and customers.

There has always been a trade-off between identity verification versus providing a frictionless customer experience. Moreover, particularly in the case of synthetic identity fraud, this isn’t only an issue for new customers – fraudsters are increasingly investing time in building trust with fake accounts before closing in for the kill. This means that identity verification is becoming even more important nowadays, beyond traditional suspicious transaction behaviors such as high-ticket purchases and foreign destinations.

This is particularly an issue for market segments such as the financial industry, where “know your customer” (KYC) rules require positive verification for transactions such as opening new accounts. But increasingly, customer verification – particularly frictionless approaches such as automated address validation – are becoming part of the landscape for a much broader range of retailers nowadays. And of course, even where fraud is not an issue, accurate contact information is critical to ensuring that your marketing, delivery and customer service operations function smoothly.

Making sure your contacts are real

One important way to prevent fraudulent activity is to verify new contact data, using tools such as Service Objects’ DOTS Address Validation. This service, which can integrate directly within your CRM or marketing automation platform via an API interface, uses the latest USPS and proprietary data to verify, correct and append addresses. It provides real-time verification of accurate, genuine contact data at the point of entry, and versions for Canadian and international addresses are also available.

For more information about automated solutions to prevent fraud, including validation of leads, orders, email addresses, IP addresses and BIN numbers, visit the solutions page for fraud prevention on our website. Or for a free personalized consultation, contact our technical team anytime – and start taking steps towards becoming fraud-free in 2020 and beyond.

The Most Common Types of Bad Leads (And How We Help Detect and Correct Them)

How big of a problem are bad leads? According to recent figures from various sources, bad data costs American businesses over $3 trillion dollars per year, and over 10% of revenues for many of them. But many of these losses are preventable with proper data hygiene.

This article looks at some of the most frequent issues with marketing leads in your contact database, together with what kinds of automated solutions are available to address them.

Where bad leads come from

One of the most important things to understand about bad leads is that no matter how careful you are about data entry – or qualifying leads on the front end – bad leads are still a fact of life for any contact database.

Here are some of the more common problems you will encounter.

Bogus leads: For as long as lead generation has existed, there will always be people who want the goodies you offer, but don’t want to be on your marketing list – for example, window shoppers, competitors, or people who aren’t in your market. Using our comprehensive DOTS Lead Validation product, you can use both our confidence and quality score to determine which leads are viable, actionable leads.  We also have individual validation tools for specific contact record fields, like:

  • mailing address
  • email address
  • phone number
  • first and last names (detect celebrity, vulgar and garbage)

Incomplete leads: Depending on your intake process, leads may be missing critical data for subsequent marketing efforts, such as phone numbers or email addresses. Our DOTS Lead Enhancement products are designed to verify and append contacts’ USPS-certified addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and names, for your leads, and for specific telemarketing applications, DOTS Phone Append can search and append business and consumer phone numbers while identifying the line type.

Data decay: The one constant in life is change, and this is particularly true for business leads. Nearly a quarter of your leads go bad every year due to moves, job changes, new contact information, or other causes. Lead Validation not only checks the accuracy but the consistency of lead data, to help ensure accurate and up-to-date contact information.

Business versus residential: Suppose you are selling an expensive B2B solution, and your lead is a student in a dorm room who ordered your latest report for a class project and will never buy. Lead Validation can check whether a lead has a business or residential address, and weight the lead score appropriately. You can even cater your business logic to harshly grade a residential lead address, helping make better business decisions before your sales team even picks up the phone.

Duplicate leads: Someone signs up for your list as in two different places with slight variations in their address. Or they enter their address with the suite number in different places. Or they simply sign up multiple times. Our flagship DOTS Address Validation products will verify and standardize address data to make removing duplicates a snap.  This blog does a great job of describing how to use the USPS’ barcode to detect duplicates.

Potential fraud: Some leads have potential red flags that raise caution – for example, a domestic street address and an IP address from a known high-risk country, or a disposable or bot email address. Lead Validation detects each of these cases, and factors them into our assessment of lead quality.

In addition to these situations, some of the more important cases of bad leads are found by cross-referencing what may be individually good data: for instance, a name or address doesn’t match the lead’s phone record. Lead Validation checks over 130 data points as part of assessing a quantitative lead quality score between 0 and 100.

Bad leads: a solvable problem

The good news about bad leads is that you can manage this problem as a business process, with the help of a little automation. By combining good data entry and data hygiene practices with API-based tools that integrate directly with your marketing automation and CRM platforms, you can avoid many of the cost, manpower and regulatory compliance issues that spring from bad contact data.

Want to learn more? Download our free whitepaper Marketing with Bad Contact Data: A Recipe for Disaster, or contact us anytime.

Lead Generation Quality: Trends and Directions

Leads are the lifeblood of most businesses. And everyone knows that lead quality is important. But exactly how important?

A recent survey from research-based marketing firm Ascend2 puts some real numbers to this question. They surveyed 260 marketing influencers, mostly at the senior management level, across a broad range of B2B and B2C firms ranging from small businesses to 500+ employee operations. Their report “Strategies, Tactics and Trends for Lead Generation Quality” is literally hot off the press, with survey data gathered less than a month ago as of this writing in September 2019.

Survey says …

Here are some of the more interesting results from this survey:

Yes, lead quality does matter. 95% of respondents felt that a lead generation quality strategy was successful for them, with 35% viewing it as a best-in-class strategy.

Social media and email marketing are king. These two channels were viewed as the most effective tactics for improving lead quality by 59% and 40% of respondents, respectively, with website personalization coming in a close third at 38%.

Firms are putting their money where their mouth is. 88% of respondents plan to increase their budget for lead generation quality, with nearly 20% expecting this budget to increase significantly.

The key strategy: getting personal. Personalization of marketing efforts (60%) and improving content and content engagement (57%) were far and away the most popular strategies for improving lead quality among respondents – and also the two biggest challenges going forward. Data cleaning was also a key strategy cited by 15% of respondents, with 20% seeing this as one of their challenges.

These findings – particularly the last one – dovetail with a message we’ve been sharing for years: that lead quality is critical to marketing and CRM, and it starts with having clean, accurate leads in the first place. More importantly, lead quality is part of a larger trend in marketing: we are steadily moving away interruptive, “spray and pray” marketing, and towards building targeted personalized relationships that benefit customers.

Our take on lead quality

Our company was founded in 2001 with the idea of reducing the waste associated with unwanted and misdirected marketing contacts. Today, a similar goal has become one of the most important objectives of marketing: improving the yield and cost-effectiveness of your marketing efforts.

To us, this starts with contact data that is genuine, accurate, and up-to-date. According to figures cited by HubSpot, nearly a quarter of marketing emails never even make it to the recipient’s inbox, while nearly a quarter of your lead data degrades every year. This where the power of data quality plays an essential role.

Data quality best practices dictate that ensuring leads are correct at the time of capture and validating the accuracy before executing a marketing campaign is the most effective way to achieve ROI, assist in data privacy compliance efforts and improve customer satisfaction.

And the results are real. As the Ascend2 survey points out, lead quality has become a competitive factor that no one can afford to ignore nowadays. Thankfully, with the aid of a little automation, better lead quality is something every marketing operation can put into practice nowadays.

To find out how we can help your business ensure the quality of your leads, visit our product page and get started with a free trial key.

A Shakespearean Sonnet to Data Quality

A little bit of summertime fun with the Bard and data quality.

“What’s in a NAPE?
That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”
-William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

OK, Shakespeare said ‘name’ not NAPE. But the sentiment rings true for data quality. Whatever you call it, good data quality practices will make your marketing perform sweeter. For us, NAPE is a simple acronym we use to describe the four most important elements of a contact record, and where you want to make sure your contact data is accurate:

N – Name

A – Address

P – Phone

E – Email

It is pretty clear to see why, having someone’s name wrong is not a great way to start off a relationship and their address, phone and email need to be correct to ensure your messages reach them. Now, let’s look at why each of these NAPE categories is important to you, and see how our services can support them.

How Macbeth would handle your data problems

“Fair is Foul, Foul is Fair”
-William Shakespeare, Macbeth

This quote is a good metaphor for the life cycle of contact data and its quality, because good leads age over time (Fair to Foul), but our automated services can turn bad leads into good ones again, or flag them for removal (Foul to Fair).

Here are some of the ways we do this:

Name. Not every marketing lead or order you get has a legitimate name, for reasons ranging from fat-fingered data entry, sidestepping lead collection to committing fraud. Our DOTS Name Validation product flags possible fraudulent names – including William Shakespeare! – by providing individual scores for vulgarity, celebrity, bogus, garbage and dictionary names, as well as provides an overall quality score, Name Score.

Address. Bad address data can occur as a result of factors such as data entry error, fraudulent data, or the natural decay of contact data records over time. Knowing where a contact record is from is critical for global compliance issues such as the European Union’s GDPR. Our flagship Address Validation products for US, Canadian or international addresses will correct, validate and append mailing addresses from over 240 countries, to improve accuracy and increase customer satisfaction.

Phone. Contacting wrong or changed phone numbers wastes your time, annoys prospects or customers, and can lead to huge compliance fines in the wake of laws such as the recently updated Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). Our Phone Validation products can provide contact information for over 400 million US and Canadian numbers, as well as line type, porting and geocoding information for numbers around the world.

Email. Email validation improves deliverability, decreases bounce rates, helps preserve your sender reputation, and can be important for compliance issues such as the US CAN-SPAM act. Our DOTS Email Validation takes a five stage approach to validating email addresses, weeds out invalid, undeliverable, and bogus email addresses worldwide, while correcting for common domain errors.

Finally there is cross-validation between all of these items – for example, making sure your order for Stratford-On-Avon isn’t coming from an IP address in an obscure third-world country. Tools such as DOTS Lead Validation and DOTS Order Validation will check your leads or orders against more than 130 data points to return overall quality and confidence scores.

Of course, data validation tools like these have gone from being a luxury to a necessity in recent years, for reasons that include marketing cost-efficiency and yield, competitive factors, customer reputation, and regulatory compliance. If you ignore good data hygiene nowadays then alas, poor Yorick, you face consequences ranging from stiff penalties to loss of market share.

How to avoid a Shakespearean data tragedy

In The Merchant of Venice, the Bard penned, “I am not bound to please thee with my answers.” We take a very different approach. Our friendly technical staff loves to give answers to your questions and explore customized solutions with you, with no sales pressure at all. You can even test-drive our tools online, explore all of our documentation, or get a free trial key for up to 500 transactions. Contact us anytime and let us help you sleep, perchance to dream, better about your contact data.

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.


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.

Lead Validation, Part 2: Advanced Features and Capabilities

Last month, we published a blog about DOTS Lead Validation, taking a deep dive into the services and core components that make up the building blocks of the service. This blog is designed to be a companion to that one – a Part 2 – taking a step back and looking at how those components fit together, as well as other important parts of the Lead Validation service.

Quick recap on Lead Validation’s components and scoring

In the previous blog, we focused on the core components of Lead Validation: Name, Address, Phone, Email, IP Address, and Business. Each component is analyzed independently using the tools and services previously described. The purpose of these tests is to determine how each given component looks unto itself. For example, if IP Address is being tested, we are looking at things like:

  • What is the IP’s location?
  • Is it a proxy?
  • Is the proxy anonymously hiding the user’s information?
  • Is it from a high risk country?
  • Is it potentially a bot?
  • Is it a mobile device?

After the components have been individually analyzed and scored, they are all cross-checked. Taking the same example of IP Address, we can look for things like this:

  • Does the IP’s location seem to match the location of the phone and address?
  • Are the IP and email linked?
  • Can we connect the IP to a given business?

The final component’s score is based on whether it is valid and whether it matches other components. This means that a failing score for the IP Address component could be either because a major red flag about the IP itself was found, or because it was clearly not a match for the overall lead itself.

The purpose of Lead Validation is to grade leads as a whole, rather than how they are as individual components. There are a few ways to tell why the component was given a failing score, which will be described later in the “Messaging” section.

All components are given the same treatment described for IP Validation, and those component scores (each 0-100) are added together to get an overall score, which is Service Objects’ recommendation for that lead. A bit more detail on this will also be described in the “Test Types” section below.

There are over 200 tests occurring in each run of a lead in Lead Validation, each of which is set to either true or false. Lead scores rise or fall based on passing or failing tests.

Lead Validation’s Test Types

Test types are a critical part of each run through the Lead Validation service. A test type is essentially a set of instructions that tells Lead Validation how to process and score the lead. It tells the service which components to test, which tests to perform and how to weigh and score each component. Components are given influence (the percentage the component contributes to the overall score) and threshold scores for when they are considered Accept, Review or Reject.

Each test is linked to a component and has the possibility of contributing a positive score for a pass and a negative score for a fail. Not all tests have both a positive and negative possibility. For example, taking the test that compares the IP Address and the Business together, it gets a big positive score if we can match them together but does not get a negative score if we cannot. It is a very good sign if we can connect the dots between them, but is not necessarily bad because we cannot, so it does not make sense to penalize for a failed test there.

Test types exist because not all needs are the same. Test types cover most combinations of input data as well as how they should be handled. For example, one user might consistently have Name, Address, Phone but occasionally collect Email. They might want two test types, one to handle Name, Address and Phone and one to handle Name, Address, Phone and Email. In this case they do not want to harshly score a lead for not including Email since they consider it optional. Another user may collect these same fields but while they only occasionally get email, they may want the system to score users lower who do not submit it. So, they would use the test type that expects all four inputs.

There are sets of test types that tell the system to process the lead as a residential lead, penalizing when given business data. There are also sets that tell the system to strictly process the lead as a business, penalizing harshly for residential data. And there are test types that are primarily focused on businesses but allow for residential data, focusing more on success in matching than penalizing because a business lead was given a personal email. There are also test types designed to work better with students. They are a bit harder to score, but students would be potentially more mobile, meaning some of the comparisons testing should be less harsh for mismatches. New test types can easily be added to the system as well as custom test types that are tailored to a specific user’s needs. More on that next.

Customizations and custom test types

There is a wide range of test types available that fit most needs, but sometimes clients have very specific needs, and it may be best in these cases to make a custom test type. Custom test types allow us to tweak everything about the test type, from high level balancing of component influences down to specific test scoring. We analyze requests for specific rules and scoring options to determine if a current public test type is needed, or a new public test type makes sense to create, or if the request is so specific that it just makes the most sense to create a private custom test type for our client.

The types of requests we see are things like:

  • I want to automatically fail the lead if any residential data shows up,
  • I want to fail any lead that returns a free email (Hotmail, Yahoo, etc.),
  • I want to fail any number that is a mobile phone regardless of its match to the lead.

Service Objects works with prospects and clients alike to tune and test specific test types to meet their needs.

In addition to custom test types, Lead Validation is highly customizable. When it makes sense, there is an available set of generic fields called InformationComponents that allows new outputs to be seamlessly added to the service without breaking current integrations. Clients interested in making use of available new InformationComponents can do so at their own pace. We could add something if a new data point becomes available that we cannot fit into the current output structure and is considered a good new fit for the service. Often we are also able to seamlessly add new features via Lead Validation’s Notes messaging system. More on that in the next section.

Messaging and other key data points

The latest and recommended operation of Lead Validation (ValidateLead_V3) contains a new improved messaging system that allows us to easily communicate key messages to our users. These are represented in the outputs by the following field categories: General Notes, Name Notes, Email Notes, IP Notes, Phone Notes and Address Notes.

General Notes contain information specific to the overall lead – primarily the results of various matchings between components. These notes give users a good idea of how well the components connected to each other (or didn’t). The other notes sections (Email, IP, etc.) have more detailed information on specific things we found out about the individual components (both good and bad) and give a good indication of why a high or low score was returned. A complete list of notes for all categories can be found here:

Notes allow us to easily communicate important things we found out about the component. For example, going back to the IP Address component: IsPublicProxy identifies IP Addresses that have potentially been compromised and used fraudulently, IsBadSyntax identifies IP Addresses that do not follow the normal IP format, and IsHighRiskCountryIP identifies IP Addresses coming from countries known to conduct more fraudulent activities. In a soon to be released new build, IsBad and IsGood notes will be added to each component, giving a bird’s eye view of our best guess for the component. These are intended to help users determine if the components themselves are considered good or bad independently of how they fit in with the overall lead.

Other key fields that users can expect to see are:

  • A standardized address based on the given address.
  • The best fit phone contact we found.
  • Locations for relevant components such as IP, address and phone.
  • A Lead Type which uses name, email, phone and address to help determine if the given data was more likely tied to a residence, a business or a mix.
  • A Lead Country that uses the various locations found by IP, address, phone and email to determine the best country fit for the lead.
  • InformationComponents, which do not currently have any results but will in the future.


Hopefully this blog, in conjunction with the previous one, will give you a great overview to Lead Validation and what it can do. If you would like to learn more about Lead Validation, please visit our product page and developer guide.

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

Credit Card Validation: Your Questions Answered

You’ve got questions? We’ve got answers! This is the first in a series of articles exploring common user questions about our products and how they can be used in business use cases, based on what you’ve asked our sales and technical support teams. We hope you’ll find these enlightening, interesting – and even fun to read!

For our first topic, we’ve chosen an area near and dear to many of our business clients: validating credit card transactions. We’ve previously explored some of the pros and cons of various approaches for credit card validation in a recent post, and will take a deeper dive into the differences between validation and verification of credit card addresses in a future article. Here, we will explore how to handle some of the most common use cases for credit transactions.

Let’s dive in:

Q: If we use the credit card company’s Address Validation System (AVS), we get a much cheaper processing rate. But it is very strict about these addresses, and kicks back too many transactions that are actually valid – so we are losing business and customers. Help!

A: This is an extremely common issue. One reason is that AVS only compares the numerical portion of the street address, together with the ZIP code, to verify the address. If either of these numbers are off even a little bit, it will reject the address. Often this is a good thing – because it can protect you from, say, a thief using a stolen credit card to ship to a bogus address – but this can also reject legitimate customers.

A simple solution for these “false negatives” is to use our DOTS Address Validation – US service to validate the address at the time the customer enters it. This gives you the ability to inform the customer in real time about address errors, and also offer them a validated and corrected address from our CASS-certified validation engine, powered by up-to-date USPS address data.

You can either simply validate addresses that fail the AVS check, or even better, validate every incoming address to ensure correct shipping addresses and a clean contact database. Either way, this is a simple step that will help more of your transactions go through smoothly.

Q: We are suddenly getting a lot of chargebacks and fraudulent transactions. Ironically, a lot of these fraudsters are giving us credit card numbers that pass AVS. What can we do?

A: You’ve discovered the hard way that many crooks – identity thieves in particular – open fraudulent credit accounts with legitimate shipping addresses. Of course, they never pay the bill and make off with your merchandise. Chargeback or “friendly” fraud is another way people fraudulently obtain goods without paying for them.

A 2018 Gartner report outlined machine intelligence and online fraud detection (OFD) tools as being among the most promising safeguards against these kinds of fraud. Many customers use our DOTS Lead Validation service as an automated screen for the quality of potential customers, using tests involving over 130 data points that yield an overall lead quality score from 0 to 100. Tools like these can go a long way towards weeding out the bad actors before you ship your merchandise to them.

As a bonus, the detailed results provided by Lead Validation also helps you decide whether to simply reject an order or pass it along for further human verification, making it easier to save good orders that may have raised a red flag or two.

Q: We offer a subscription service or sell products on a payment plan, billed to a customer’s credit card monthly. Increasingly people have been defrauding us by signing up with a prepaid credit card with a low balance – so they get the goodies, but only the first payment gets made. How can we prevent this kind of fraud?

A: This problem is actually quite easy to solve, using our DOTS BIN Validation product. Its output contains a value called CardType that lets you detect and flag prepaid credit cards. Armed with this knowledge, you can create business logic with options like:

  • Let the customer know in real time that you do not accept this type of card for this product/service
  • Request another form of payment,
  • Offer only a pay-in-full option for this card type, or
  • Decline the order.

Q: Is there anything else we can do to prevent fraudulent credit transactions?

A: One more pro tip is to compare the customer’s shipping and billing address with the BIN Validation’s Country field, which lists the country of the credit card’s issuing bank and the country result from DOTS IP Address Validation lookup. If they are different, you can flag certain countries (e.g. those with high fraud rates) to decline the transaction immediately or ask for another form of payment.

So what are your questions?

We would love to hear from you. Of course, you can contact our product team anytime for a personal response – and if there is anything you would like to see us discuss in a future article, let us know. Thanks!

Lead Validation: The Core Components

How good are your leads? DOTS Lead Validation, Service Objects’ most popular composite service, is designed to measure lead quality – helping our clients reduce fraud, increase conversions and enhance incoming leads, web orders and customer lists.

Lead with Certainty

Lead Validation blends the strengths of our Name, Address, Phone, Email and IP Address validation services to provide authoritative details and return a Certainty score from 0-100. Marketing teams can use the results to assess the quality of incoming leads in real time, sales teams can prioritize their leads based on quality, and companies, in general, can make sure their CRM and other customer databases are kept clean, accurate and as up-to-date as possible.

Lead Validation verifies leads in real time for the United States and Canada. Our DOTS Lead Validation – International service works in a very similar fashion, adding the capabilities of validating global leads to the mix while including the strength of our core services for validating leads from the US and Canada. In this blog, we are focused on the components of Lead Validation and how it helps our clients.

Our Lead Validation service contains six primary components:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone
  • Email
  • IP address
  • Business

Each of these components are discussed in greater detail below.

Name component

The name component is built on the strength of our DOTS Name Validation service to validate names, verify accuracy, parse out name components, return gender information and more. It gives you insight into the name, looking for similar names and nicknames to improve matching, and flags questionable things like names that seem to contain vulgar words, match well-known celebrities, or appear to be fabricated garbage names such as random keystrokes. Name Validation also has access to names from all over the world, giving it the ability to handle leads with names that are less common in North America.

Lead Validation compares the name to other data points such as the phone number, email and address to determine how the name connects to the rest of the lead. Red flags found, such as those listed above, factor into the scoring,  returning a quality score that indicates the reliability of the given name, both by itself and as part of the lead. Unusual or unknown names are not necessarily failed. Generally, names can be considered good, unknown or bad. However, to get the “bad” designation, we expect to see that the name fails in at least one of the red flag categories mentioned above.

Address component

The address component uses DOTS Address Validation – US, DOTS Address Validation Canada, and DOTS Address Detective to correct, standardize and validate addresses in the United States and Canada, as follows.

  • Address Validation – US uses our top of the line address validation engine and the USPS dataset to validate the given address, identify it as a business or residence, and determine if it is a mailable location, among other things.
  • Address Validation – Canada parses, cleanses and validates Canadian addresses in English and French.
  • Address Detective uses tools to deal with extremely messy addresses, from address information all appearing on a single line to jumbled inputs such as the street address being assigned to the city or the state being assigned to the postal code. Address Detective also has access to addresses not available in the USPS dataset to help with more challenging address inputs.

Lead Validation uses the results of these services, along with comparisons against other results like phone number and IP address, to build a component score that reflects both the quality of the component and its relation to the lead as a whole. Other Lead Validation specific tests look for things like hotels, prisons, intentionally bad data, post office boxes, CMRAs and more that also influence the component score.

Phone component

The phone component uses primarily DOTS Geophone Plus to gather contact, provider and location data for up to two phone numbers. Other important pieces of information are also collected. Is the number a landline, wireless or VOIP line? Is it a residential or business number? Does it appear to be a Google or Skype number? Is it connected? Can we detect patterns in the number that might signify that it is just randomly typed in numbers?

Lead Validation compares the resulting contact and location data back to the initially given name, business name, address, email, and IP address inputs to determine any connections that can be made between data points. These influence the component score along with the basic question: does it appear to be a good number?

The additional data points collected from the phone number also provides additional insights. Did a business lead provide a residential phone number, a personal email address or was a wireless line used? Dozens of tests create a component score that reflects the quality of the given phone number and its connection to the lead. If two numbers are given, the analysis is done on both numbers and the better fit for the lead is chosen as the primary one for comparison purposes.

Email component

The email component uses our DOTS Email Validation service to perform a step by step process that attempts email correction to fix common mistakes, syntax checks to make sure the address is both syntactically valid for email and that it conforms to the rules of the given domain, a DNS check to make sure the domain exists, an SMTP check to find the presence of a valid mail server and other various integrity checks. It tests that an email server is operational and accepting mail as well as if a specific mailbox is valid. Other data points collected include; if the email seems to be bogus, vulgar, garbage, disposable, an alias, a spam trap, is associated with a bot, is a free or business email and more.

Lead Validation compares email to other data points like name, business name, IP address and phone number to see if they can be connected. That combined with whether the mailbox is good, seems to be connected to the user and considerations for any red flags found while testing the email, lead to a component score that considers how valid the email address is and its likelihood of being a part of the lead.

IP address component

The IP address component uses primarily the DOTS IP Validation service to identify if the IP address is a good one, its country of origin or more accurate location, whether or not it belongs to a known proxy and if it appears to belong to a mobile device. The service can identify harmful proxies to determine if the lead is attempting to hide their location or check if the IP address has been linked to malicious behavior. Other pieces of information are returned as well to identify the internet service provider (ISP) or link the IP address to a business.

Lead Validation will compare IP address to address, phone, email and business to determine if any positive or negative connections can be made. Lead Validation will assess any high-risk countries along with the consideration of malicious and proxy IP addresses to determine the quality of the IP component and how it fits in with the lead.

Business component

The business component is unique from the other components. While the other components work for all leads, the business component is designed to work only with leads designated as business leads. This designation is controlled by TestType (i.e. TestType=business or TestType=businessonly) as users can decide if their leads are business, residential or perhaps a bit of both. This component also does not rely on existing services to gather core data.

Lead Validation performs its own internal tests and checks against our business datasets. Data points found can be compared to business names, addresses, IP addresses, phone numbers, and emails to look for connections. Other checks look for red flags in the given business name such as vulgarities and potential bogus submissions. All of these checks combine to create a business component score that reflects its validity and how it fits in with the lead as a whole.


Each of the components described above return their own 0-100 certainty score and a quality recommendation (i.e. Review, Review or Reject). Generally, high scores indicate the component score itself is good, while a low one indicates that it is bad. However, each component also has scoring based on cross-comparisons built in as well. For example, a given phone number might be perfectly valid but during the cross-examination phase, we find that it seems to belong to a person not indicated by the input lead. This would likely lead the phone component to a poor score because while the number is technically a “good” number, it is not good for the lead.

Hopefully, this gives you a strong overview of our Lead Validation service, as well as provide some insight into how the components are tested and how they relate to the overall lead. If you would like to learn more about Lead Validation, please visit our product page and developer guide.

Image of earth from space with network concept overlay

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.


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.


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.


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!

Lead Validation International ead quality to ensures you are working with the most genuine, accurate and up-to-date data available.

Anatomy of a Service: DOTS Lead Validation International

DOTS Lead Validation International is easily our most robust and valuable service. This service improves the quality of your leads by correcting or eliminating unreliable contact record data while providing you with an overall quality score, so you can make informed business decisions. This service cross-references prospects’ name, address, phone, email, and IP address to ensure the lead information is genuine, accurate and up-to-date.

The quality of each of these data points is analyzed and scored separately and also combined to provide a weighted composite score for the overall lead quality and certainty. These individual and composite scores are included in the fifty-plus outputs the service provides, allowing you to tailor business logic to meet your needs.

Lead Validation International can be used like our other services; as a real-time API, as a cloud connector for major CRMs and marketing automation platforms, or as an FTP service. If none of these work for you, you can send us your list and we will validate and correct the leads for you.

Customizing Lead Validation International to Meet Your Needs

Even if you are missing some of the contact record data points (e.g., email, phone, address, name, or IP) that the service uses to validate leads, our service can be customized to use the data you do have, correct any issues with it and provide certainty scores. To customize our service to work with your available data, we suggest using the variable, TestType. There are a number different test types that address common variations of available data points and the needs of our clients. These test types can be further configured to meet the specific needs of your application and business. If you are not sure about what test type you should use, please don’t hesitate to reach out, we will gladly help with best recommendations. We are committed to making sure you receive the full benefit and power of our Lead Validation International service, and if none of the available test types meet your needs, we are happy to create custom ones that will.

Interpreting API Responses

Interpreting the response from our API is an important first step in determining the best ways to use the service and how the resulting validated data can benefit your business. There are only three “required” inputs to Lead Validation International: Country, TestType, and LicenseKey. If all three of these inputs are provided, Lead Validation International will attempt to process all the lead information that is present. If the required inputs are not provided, here are some of the errors you might encounter:

  1. Error Code 1 – Authorization Codes

These errors indicate there is something wrong with the license key and we recommend that you double check you are using the correct key. One of the most common causes for this type of error is using a test key in a live environment (or vice-versa). Fortunately, this type of error is simple to detect and correct. In the test environment, the request URL should start with “https://trial.serviceobjects…” and be used with the test key sent to you. Production keys and URLs are different and issued only to customers. For other errors, please do not hesitate to reach out to us to help troubleshoot.

Error Description Code  Error Description Additional Description
1 Please provide a valid license key for this web service. There was no license key submitted to the service. Often, this occurs when the URL encoding has not occurred correctly.
2 The daily allowable number of transactions for this license key has been exceeded. This does not apply to all keys, but some have a daily maximum transactions limit.
3 The monthly allowable number of transactions for this license key has been exceeded. Some keys have a monthly maximum. You will encounter this value if you pass the monthly maximum.
4 The total allowable number of transactions for this license key has been exceeded. The overall amount of transactions has been exceeded.


  1. Error Code 2 – User Input 

Something is wrong with the inputs. Either necessary fields were left blank, or the inputs entered are too long.

Error Description Code Error Description Additional Description
1 That does not appear to be a valid TestType. The given test type was either blank or an invalid test type. Please contact us to help assist with a test type that would suit your needs.
2 The Country input is missing. There was no value in the Country field of the input. This is a required field that allows the service to cross reference different data points.


  1. Error Code 3 – Fatal Errors 

This unlikely error indicates that the web service is behaving in an unexpected way. If you see this error in a production environment, please notify Service Objects at once.

Error Description Code Error Description Additional Description
1 Unhandled error. Please contact Service Objects. Like it says, please contact Service Objects immediately and let us know what inputs you used to create this error.


  1. Error Code 4 – Domain Specific 

Some of our other services return Domain Specific errors which indicate the validity or lack thereof of the information sent to the service. Lead Validation International works a bit differently since it is a composite service and cross-checks data points to provide an overall score for the lead. Currently, there are no Domain Specific errors in our Lead Validation International service.

Validated International Lead Outputs

If everything is working as expected, the service will return over fifty outputs including validated and corrected data, quality scores and any additional notes that might be helpful. The table below shows the most common outputs and a brief description of what they mean.

Return Value  Description
  OverallCertainty This is the total lead score. It represents how likely it is that the given lead is valid. 100 is the best score, and 0 is the worst.
  OverallQuality There are only three different values that can be returned for this field: Reject, Review or Accept. This is a quick and easy flag that can be used to identify the overall quality of the lead. If necessary, separate reject, review, and accept flags can be developed internally.
  LeadType Provides a classification that helps flag the type of lead given. Values will be Residential, Business, or Unknown.
  LeadCountry The country associated with the given lead. It is presented in ISO2 format.
  NoteCodes These will be an enumerated list of the overall codes associated with the lead. These note nodes will provide further information about the quality of the lead and the different data points that did or did not match up. As a general rule, NoteCodes that are lower than 100 are marks against a lead and notes higher than 100 are data points that indicate cross data matching in the lead.
  NoteDesc These will be the descriptions that are associated with the NoteCodes.
  NameScore This is the first of the different component scores that Lead Validation International provides. Along with an overall certainty score, Lead Validation International will provide a score for each of the different pieces of information given as inputs. This field ranges from 0 to 100 and indicates the probability that the given data name is valid.
  NameQuality Values will be Reject, Review or Accept. A quick and easy flag to accept or reject the name portion of the lead.
  FirstName The first name without diacritic (i.e., accented) characters.
  LastName The parsed out last name of the lead.
  FirstNameClean The first name without diacritic (i.e., accented) characters.
  NameNoteCodes An enumerated list of note codes that provide further information on the quality of the name.
  NameNoteDesc The text-based descriptions associated with the codes in the previous field.
  AddressScore The overall score of the address portion of the lead. It ranges from 0 to 100.
  AddressQuality A simple reject, review or accept flag indicating the quality of the address portion.
  Address1 The validated Address1 line of the input address.
  Address2 The validated Address2 line of the input address.
  Address3 The validated Address3 line of the input address.
  Address4 The validated Address4 line of the input address.
  Address5 The validated Address5 line of the input address.
  AddressLocality The locality associated with the given input address. This is typically the City of the address.
  AddressAdminArea The Administrative Area associated with the input address. Typically corresponds to the State or province of an address.
  AddressPostalCode Validated postal code of the input address.
  AddressCountry Validated country associated with the input address.
      AddressResolutionLevel The resolution level to which the input address could be resolved. This will give some information on whether there is DPV, premise, or other data available for an address.
  AddressNoteCodes An enumerated list of codes that provide more information on the quality of an address.
  AddressNoteDesc Descriptive notes that correspond to the note codes for this field.
  EmailScore A score between 0 and 100 that ranks the validity of the given email address.
  EmailQuality A reject, review or accept flag that gives a simple flag on the quality of the input email address.
  EmailCorrected A True or False flag that indicates whether or not the input email address was corrected.
  EmailNoteCodes An enumerated list of codes that provide more information about the quality of the email address.
  EmailNoteDesc Descriptive notes that correspond to the note codes.
  IPAddressScore A score between 0 and 100 representing the validity of the given IP address.
  IPAddressQuality A simple reject, review and accept flag that will highlight the validity of the IP address portion of the lead.
  IPCountry The country associated with the IP Address.
  IPLocality The locality associated with the IP Address.
  IPAdminArea The Administrative area associated with the IP Address.
  IPNoteCodes An enumerated list of note codes that provide additional information about the quality of the IP address.
  IPNoteDesc Descriptive notes that correspond to the note codes.
  Phone1Score A simple reject, review, or accept flag that that indicates the quality of the given phone number.
  Phone1Quality A Simple reject, review or accept flag that that indicates the quality of the given phone number.
  Phone1Locality The Locality associated with the Phone1 field.
  Phone1AdminArea The Admin Area associated with the Phone1 field.
  Phone1Country The Country associated with the Phone1 field.
  Phone1NoteCodes An enumerated list of note codes that provide additional information about the quality of the Phone Number.
  Phone1NoteDesc Descriptive notes that correspond to the codes in the previous fields.
  Phone2Score A score between 0 and 100 that indicates the validity of the phone number in the Phone2 field.
  Phone2Locality A simple reject, review or accept flag that that indicates the quality of the given phone number.
  Phone2Locality The Locality associated with the Phone2 field.
  Phone2AdminArea The Admin Area associated with the Phone2 field.
  Phone2Country The Country associated with the Phone2 field.
  Phone2NoteCodes An enumerated list of note codes that provide additional information about the quality of the Phone Number.
  Phone2NoteDesc Descriptive notes that correspond to the codes in the previous fields.
  PhoneContact A Phone Contact Object. We will list this below.
  InformationComponents An array of information components. These are key-value pairs that can allow us to additional outputs and features to Lead Validation in the future.


When available, Lead Validation International can return the contact name and address information associated with the phone number.

  Name   Name associated with the phone number.
  Address   Address associated with the phone number.
  City   City associated with the phone number.
  State   State associated with the phone number.
  Zip   Zip Code associated with the input address.
  Type   Indicates the phone contact type. Returns can be Residential, Business or Unknown.


Hopefully, this quick primer is the first step to developing a better understanding of our Lead Validation International service and how it can be applied to your needs. Please reach out to us with any questions, and we will gladly provide recommendations, integration assistance or any other help you may need.

The GDPR is the dawn of a new era in customer relationships, providing new opportunities for business growth and marketing success as companies move away from interruptive marketing towards collaborative – and ultimately more profitable – relationships.

What Role Does Contact Data Quality Play in GDPR Compliance?

If you do business in Europe, you are probably quite familiar by now with the acronym GDPR – the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation. In May 2018, companies that handle personal information from European consumers will be required to follow strict new regulations for privacy, data security, and accuracy of personal data from EU citizens.

Many organizations are focused on avoiding the stiff penalties associated with GDPR violations. I have a different view. To me, the GDPR is an opportunity for business growth and marketing success as a result of the fundamental decisions you make about your data quality.

Let’s start with Article 5 of the GDPR, which will be one of the most critical compliance areas for most organizations. It requires you to make a good faith, best practice effort to correct or expunge errors in your contact database, along with ensuring data security and appropriate usage. You will need to be able to document these efforts to avoid penalties.

This Article responds to a norm among some organizations that a certain amount of bad contact data is an unavoidable cost of doing business – and in fact, according to SiriusDecisions, as many as 25% of marketing contact records currently contain critical errors. So what if Hans in Frankfurt or Liv in Stockholm gets a little extra junk mail because someone else lived at that address years ago?

To me, Article 5 of the GDPR forces you to care about something you should care about anyway – protecting your customers from unwanted marketing contacts. In addition, these unwanted or erroneous contacts are a serious drag on your marketing expenses and a waste of resources for the environment. Now that inexpensive API and list processing tools can validate addresses, lead quality and much more, it has long been past time for most organizations to put data quality on autopilot.

I feel that a similar nexus exists for much of the rest of the GDPR. For example, it has strict opt-in requirements that prevent you from “defaulting” a customer on to your marketing contact list, and you must make it simple for customers to modify their information or even be “forgotten” if they wish. Some may see rules like these as an onerous intrusion on their marketing process. I personally see it as the dawn of a new era in customer relationships, away from interruptive marketing and towards more collaborative – and ultimately more profitable – relationships.

So, go ahead and join the rush to become GDPR compliant by May. But in the process, take advantage of this time to re-think your data quality and marketing strategies for the long term. I think you’ll find that a new and much more effective business strategy lies in your future.

What Validated Contact Data Can Do for Your Business

What Validated Contact Data Can Do for Your Business

“Nobody is perfect. And my company wasn’t even talking about things like data quality ten years ago. So, what is the big deal if there are a few problems with my contact data? That’s life, isn’t it?”

Actually, it is a big deal. First, it affects your costs and competitiveness. Second, it affects your reputation in the marketplace. And finally, because bad data can be so easily fixed with the latest automated tools.

With new regulations on the horizon and an increasingly competitive marketplace, companies need data they can rely on. If you’re still on the fence, below are some of the main reasons your business needs confirmed data.

Saving Time and Money

Bad data always costs your business time, money, or both. It affects areas such as sales leads, delivery accuracy, your reputation when sending email marketing, and much more. It is estimated15-25% of contact data is inaccurate, incomplete, fraudulent, or out-of-date, and a great deal of resources are wasted due to inaccurate or straight-up bad data.

Getting sales leads is costly for most organizations, especially when leads are bad or inaccurate. The earlier you can validate incoming data, the better you will be able to utilize your resources.  Our Email and Address Validation services can help make sure your incoming contact data is coming in clean and valid, and our Lead Validation service helps prioritize your resources toward better targeted leads.

Improving Your Marketing Efficiency

Think of all the wasted resources involved when materials are sent to the wrong address, or salespeople chase after bad or mislocated prospects. Even a small percentage of errors can result in a great deal of frustration for everyone involved, and fixing these problems is low-hanging fruit you can easily automate.

Beyond our Address Validation services, our Address Geocode product can translate addresses to exact latitude-longitude coordinates in real time. For incomplete addresses, our Address Detective product can prevent you from purging good leads. It fixes fatal addressing errors by filling in the gaps of missing address data in your contact records, using a fuzzy-matching API that returns a confidence score for each updated address.

Protecting Your Email Reputation

Suppose you bought an email list and you are ready to send the perfect email, after weeks of refining. Nothing can give you a bad reputation quicker than sending email to a bunch of addresses that bounce, not to mention getting mediocre results from your campaign.

Use our Email Validation service to keep your reputation in good standing. Using a real-time API can reduce bounce rates up to 90%. Our service can process rented lists as well as your own house lists, giving you valuable insight into your contact data assets to make sure you get the most out of your investment.

Cleaning Up Your Existing Contact Data

We often hear people say, “What if I just realized we were doing things wrong and I want to get our data on the right track?” Once your database gets corrupted with uncertain data, typically two things must happen to reverse course. First, you need to draw a line in the sand and commit to making sure to validate any new information going into your system. The next step involves validating all your current database information in a separate process.

We can help automate much of the extra work of cleaning up existing data. We have lots of sample code and support many platforms to make it easy to integrate with us, not to mention the top-notch technical service team we have standing by to help you implement a robust solution.

Lather, Rinse, Repeat

Finally, we wanted to mention the importance of keeping your data current. Even after validating data coming into your system using our API or cleansing your system afterward with our batch process, data will still get old and invalid over time. People move, new homes are built, old buildings are repurposed, emails change, phone numbers are disconnected, and so on.  Like showering, regular data hygiene will help keep your data in the best condition possible, and we make this easy for you.

There are many benefits to keeping your data as up-to-date and accurate as possible, and we are here to help you every step of the way. Contact us to see what we can do for you and your data!


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.

Mail Servers: Where in the world…?

We love data here at Service Objects. We are constantly working to expand and improve on our datasets to further innovate our product lineup. A big part of what makes our Email Validation (EV) service so good is the data that helps drive it. When communicating with a mail server in real-time to verify an email address it helps to know what kind of mail server it is dealing with and if it is trustworthy. Just because an email address is deliverable does not always mean that it is good.  For example, an email may be disposable, vulgar or worse yet, a spamtrap.

Our Email Validation service already keeps track of mail server behavior patterns for millions of domains, which allows us to identify and flag mail servers with malicious activity or servers that have a high association with malicious activity.  In addition to monitoring behavior patterns, we are now focusing on determining the geographic location of the email servers.

What benefits does identifying mail server location offer?

Email addresses can be sent and received from anywhere in the world. They are not anchored to one physical location, and at a glance, one cannot easily discern its geographic origin. Even email addresses with a country code for a Top Level Domain (TLD) can have a global presence and may have servers located in multiple countries.  Fortunately, mail server location data can be derived and aggregated from some of our other datasets. This allows our Email Validation service to better identify potentially malicious mail servers and flag servers from known geographic hot spots.

In addition to helping identify problematic email servers, mail server location data can provide additional insights and benefits. From a marketing and administration perspective, the mail server location data can be used to help identify and organize email addresses for a particular region. The location information can also be used to gain business insights about a company and its location(s). At Service Objects, we are using the additional information to further enhance some of our other services, such as Lead Validation.

Challenges to identifying mail server location information

There are a number of challenges to accurately identifying mail server location information. First, we are identifying the mail server locations of a domain, not attempting to identify where an email message was sent from. This would require more than just a simple email address. However, the location data can be used to help cross-check and verify the legitimacy of an email message. For example, an email message is received, and the headers say that the message was sent from However, the server IP address in the header does not match any of the known Gmail mail server locations, so chances are the message was spoofed and that it is spam or part of a phishing scam.

Second, trying to identify all of the mail servers for a particular domain is not something that can be done quickly enough for a real-time service where end-users expect sub-second response times. Real-time communication with a mail server can often take several seconds, but trying to identify all the mail servers for a domain from around the world can sometimes take several minutes. For this reason, our DOTS Email Validation service does not include mail server location identification in its suite of real-time checks. Instead, the service relies on background systems that have already collected and identified mail server locations from around the world. This ensures that the service is not bogged down by slow processes and continues to respond normally. While mail server location identification may be too slow for a real-time check, it is a daily process that we perform to ensure our list of locations is up to date. The process is also quick enough that our background processes can routinely check for any new domains that we have not come across before and process them hourly.

Third, if a business has multiple locations, then a typical DNS lookup for a domain will just tell you which mail server(s) to connect to that are closest to your area, and not necessarily tell you about their other mail servers. DNS does this to help ensure that communication is quick and efficient, that way an end-user isn’t trying to communicate with a server on the other side of the country or potentially in a different nation entirely if it doesn’t have to. Part of what makes the location identification process “slow” is that we are looking for mail servers in every major region of the world, and not just in our own local areas.

What’s going on behind the scenes

While our email validation service will currently only display the location(s) of the mail server(s) in the notes of the output when it has been identified, it is doing a lot more with that data behind the scenes. Knowing the IP Addresses and locations of the mail servers means that we can perform cross-checks against more data points in other areas. Service Objects is extremely interested in fraud prevention, so we use this data to check for associations with known proxies, VPNs, bot services and other data points that have ties to malicious activity. The data allows us to check various data driven blacklists and white hat resources against more than a simple email address and domain.  Instead, we can pull back the curtain, so to speak, and dig deeper into the mail server(s) that run behind the scenes. All, while continuing and expanding our server behavior monitorization.

With the addition of this new data, we have added additional NoteCodes to the output from our DOTS Email Validation 3 service. Below is a list of the new notes codes and that have been added:

Code Description Example
11 Countries: The ISO2 country code for the country where the mail server(s) is located. If mail servers are found in more than one country, then all country ISO2 codes will be represented in a pipe-delimited list. JP
12 Region: The region in the country where the mail server(s) is located. The region is commonly returned as a two-character abbreviation. If mail servers are found in more than one region then the value will be a pipe-delimited list of the regions. OS|TY
13 Localities: The name of the locality where the mail sever(s) is located in. If mail servers are found in more than one locality then the value will be a pipe-delimited list of all the localities. Osaka|Tokyo
14 PostCodes: The post code of where the mail server(s) is located. If multiple post codes are found, then the value will be a pipe-delimited list. 543-0062|102-0082


For more information about terms for international addresses and locations please check out this previous blog post.

Unlike other NotesCodes where the corresponding NotesDescriptions value will be a human readable flag to describe the note code, the value will instead contain the list of locations found.

Get started testing DOTS Email Validation by downloading a real-time API trial key or sending is a sample list to run for you.

Our 2018 New Year’s Resolutions

A brand new year is upon us – and once again, many of us are making resolutions for 2018. Perhaps eating better, working harder, or even blowing a thick layer of dust off that exercise machine in our basement. The new year is always a great time to make a fresh start.

Here at Service Objects, we have our own resolutions for 2018 as well. Of course, ours are designed to help your 2018 marketing efforts be even more successful than last year. Here are some of the biggest ones on our list:

Automate your regulatory compliance. More than anything, 2018 will cap a growing era of global consumer rights and stiffer regulation. Between the pending May implementation of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the recent expansion of the US Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), your use of consumer contact data for marketing is more tightly controlled than ever. And ignorance of the law isn’t bliss: fines for TCPA violations run as high as $15,000 per violation, and GDPR violations can command fines as high as 4% of your gross turnover.

We can help you get started on your path to achieve compliance with both of these new regulations. For GDPR, which requires maintaining explicit customer permission for use of their personal data, products such as Address Validation International, Lead Validation International and Email Validation can flag European addresses for GDPR processing and clean your contact database at time of use. And for TCPA, which prohibits unsolicited calls to consumer cellular numbers, our GeoPhone Plus product can help ensure that customer contact numbers haven’t been ported to new mobile customers.

Help you move into global markets. The world is getting smaller every year, which means that your potential market is getting larger. We can help you validate and verify international leads with tools such as Address Validation International and Lead Validation International, to help you target your overseas marketing more effectively.

Reduce the amount of fraud in eCommerce transactions during sales peaks. Did you know that 2017 saw the largest online sales volumes ever for Black Friday and Cyber Monday? According to data from Adobe Analytics, consumers spent a record $11.6 billion dollars across these two peak sales days – and according to Forbes Magazine, fraudulent transactions spike during these peak periods as well. We have a wide range of solutions for eliminating online fraud, ranging from lead validation to best practices such as validating IP addresses, to ensure that order from Kansas isn’t originating in Kyrgyzstan.

Give your customers a better experience. Your business rises and falls with the service experiences you deliver your customers. Our flagship delivery accuracy solutions, powered by continually-updated USPS, Canada Post and international address databases, makes sure your products get to the right people at the right address every time. And even when customers slip up and give you an undeliverable address, our Address Detective product can help make things all better.

Lower your costs. Would you like to get better lead response rates in 2018? Keep your contact database clean and up-to-date as prospects move or change jobs? Or improve your marketing ROI by filtering out bogus or fraudulent leads? We can do all of that for you, and more. We have a whole smorgasbord of solutions that help you have genuine, accurate and up-to-date data, improve marketing campaign performance, ensure better leads, and do more with less.

One more thing that makes our New Year’s resolutions better than most people’s – we always keep ours! That’s why we have over 2400 clients and counting today. And we look forward to serving you in 2018.

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.

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Service Objects ColdFusion Integration Tutorial

As part of our commitment to making our data quality solutions easy to integrate, our Application Engineering team has developed a series of tutorials on how to integrate our services.  The series highlights various programming languages, with this tutorial exploring the “how-to’s” of applying our services using ColdFusion.

ColdFusion is a scripting language that has been around since 1995. It was created to make development of CGI scripts easier and faster.  ColdFusion has unique aspects, including use of its native ColdFusion Markup Language (CMFL for short) to allow HTML style tags for programming with systems. Like most things in the tech world, it can draw a lot of polarized opinions, where some are ardent supporters, and others, less than enthusiastic fans. If you fall in the supporter camp, and want to learn how to call a web service with ColdFusion, that is where our experts can step in and help.

To get started you will need a ColdFusion IDE (we’re using ColdFusion Builder 3) and a Service Objects’ License key. We’re using one for DOTS Lead Validation but you can follow along with your service of choice.

Project setup

The first step is to launch your IDE and select an appropriate workspace for your project. Next, we will create a new project.

Select next for a blank template and then click next again.  On the following screen give your project an appropriate name and click finish.

Congratulations! You created a brand new ColdFusion project. Now it’s time to add some code. For starters, we’ll want to add a form and elements to initialize our form inputs so that we can create a sample page to input data to send to our web service. This likely won’t be what you will want to do in a live environment, but this is for demonstration purposes.

The DOTS Lead Validation service that we’re using has quite a few inputs so this may take a while. Once you are finished it should look like the following:

Making the web service call

The next bit of code that we will add is to make the actual HTTP GET call to the Service Objects’ web service. Let’s use the CFML tags to make the actual web service call.

After the code makes the call to the endpoint, we perform a failover check in the code. This failover check and the try catch blocks that it is nested in will help ensure that your integration of our web service will continue to work uninterrupted in the event that the primary web service is unavailable or not responding correctly.

The primary endpoint should be pointing to and the backup endpoint should be pointed to

Displaying the results

Now that you have successfully called the web service, you will obviously want to do something with the results. For demonstration purposes we will simply display the results to the user.  You can use the code snippet below to display.

If you are having trouble figuring out how a particular output is mapped in the ColdFusion response, then you can use the <cfdump var=””> tag to dump the outputs onto the screen. This should allow for easy troubleshooting.

Now that our CFML is all set up, lets see an example input and output from the service. Below is sample lead information that you might encounter:

And here is some of the response that DOTS Lead Validation will return:

The DOTS Lead Validation service can return a multitude of information about your lead.  To download a trial key for any of our 23 contact validation solutions, please visit

P.S.  Here is the full ColdFusion script page in case you need it to get up and running.


Don’t Let Bad Data Scare You This Halloween

Most of us here in North America grew up trick-or-treating on Halloween. But did you know the history behind this day?

In early Celtic culture, the feast of All Hallows Eve (or Allhallowe’en) was a time of remembering the souls of the dead – and at a more practical level, preparing for the “death” of the harvest season and the winter to follow. People wore costumes representing the deceased, who by legend were back on earth to have a party or (depending upon cultural interpretation) cause trouble for one last night, and people gave them alms in the form of soul cakes – which evolved to today’s sweet treats – to sustain them.

So what were people preparing for in celebrating Halloween? Good data quality, of course. Back then, when your “data” consisted of the food you grew, people took precautions to protect it from bad things by taking the preventative measure of feeding the dead. Today, Halloween is a fun celebration that actually has some important parallels for managing your data assets. Here are just a few:

An automated process. The traditions of Halloween let people honor the dead and prepare for the harvest in a predictable, dependable way. Likewise, data quality ultimately revolves around automated tools that take the work – and risk – out of creating a smooth flow of business information.

Organizational buy-in. Unlike many other holidays, Halloween was a community celebration fueled by the collective efforts of everyone. Every household took part in providing alms and protecting the harvest. In much the same way, modern data governance efforts make sure that all of the touch points for your data – when it is entered, and when it is used – follow procedures to ensure clean, error free leads, contacts and e-commerce information.

Threat awareness. Halloween was designed to warn people away from the bad guys – for example, the bright glow of a Jack-o-lantern was meant to keep people away from the spirit trapped inside. Today, data quality tools like order and credit card BIN validation keep your business away from the modern-day ghouls that perpetrate fraud.

An ounce of prevention. This is the big one. Halloween represented a small offering to the dead designed to prevent greater harm. When it comes to your data, prevention is dramatically more cost- effective than dealing with the after-effects of bad data: this is an example of the 1-10-100 rule, where you can spend one dollar preventing data problems, ten dollars correcting them, or $100 dealing with the consequences of leaving them unchecked.

These costs range from the unwanted marketing costs of bad or fraudulent leads to the cost in lost products, market share and customer good will when you ship things to the wrong address. And this doesn’t even count some of the potentially big costs for compliance violations, such as the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) for outbound telemarketing, the CAN-SPAM act for email marketing, sales and use tax mistakes, and more.

So now you know: once upon a time, people mitigated threats to their data by handing out baked goods to people in costumes. Now they simply call Service Objects, to implement low-cost solutions to “treat” their data with API-based and batch-process solutions. And just like Halloween, if you knock on our door we’ll give you a sample of any of our products for free! For smart data managers, it’s just the trick.

Now or Later? When to Clean Your Marketo Database

If you were to make a list of the things people love to do, data cleanup would usually rank pretty low on the list. (Except for us here at Service Objects. We rather enjoy data cleanup. But then again, we’ve always been a little different.) This naturally leads to another question: should you clean up your contact data BEFORE you put it into Marketo, or LATER, before you actually use it in a campaign?

We have a three-part answer to this question: yes, yes, and automate the process.

Here’s why: there are irreplaceable benefits to each process. And when you properly automate it with the right tools, the process becomes frictionless and institutionalizes the ROI of these benefits. Let’s explore this in more detail.

Validating contact data such as names, email, physical addresses and phone numbers BEFORE loading them into Marketo has several advantages:

Saving money.  Your Marketo pricing tier is depending on the number of leads in your database. By cleaning this data on the front end, you can often delay or perhaps even avoid entirely the problem of moving to a higher tier and paying more for non-viable leads. And within your tier, fewer bad leads translates directly to less human intervention throughout the marketing cycle and more accurate analytics.

Garbage in, garbage out. Putting dirty data into your marketing database skews whatever metrics or analyses you might do beyond marketing campaigns, including the all-important conversion rate. And catching bad contact information in real-time lets you message the user at time of entry so they can correct it, preserving valuable leads and preventing possible customer service issues.

Detecting bogus names and fraudulent leads. What good is a database full of Donald Ducks and Ninja Turtles, who faked you out to get a free report? Tools such as name validation can programmatically catch and keep fraudulent contact information out of your lead database in the first place.

Lead preservation. Conversely, your bad contact data can be a hidden source of leads and revenue – if you use automated tools to correct bad addresses or append missing information such as contact phone numbers.

Finally, there is the broader question of lead quality. Marketo’s own lead scoring – based on tracking activities, behavior and demographics – is important but may not provide front-end protection from fraudulent or bad data. Contact-level lead validation adds a quantitative value for lead quality, based on over 200 criteria, that lets you decide to fast-track a lead, put them in your drip campaign to see how they respond, or even discard the lead.

Now, let’s look at the other side of the coin. Validating lead data LATER at regular intervals, particularly at the time you use it, has several advantages as well.

Coping with change. Over 70% of contact data will go bad in the course of just a year. Lead validation tools can check your existing leads and then correct, update, or remove them based on the results. This saves you money by only keeping and paying for viable leads, allowing you to better identify sources of high and low quality leads and providing more accurate reporting.

Taking care of your customers. By triggering emails or other contacts to customers who appear to have changed their addresses, using tools such as our national change-of-address (NCOA Live) capabilities, you provide better service and pro-actively avoid future service or delivery failures.

Making your IT department happy. Lead and contact validation tools from Service Objects are easily automated within Marketo using our Webhooks which can be found on Marketo’s LaunchPoint marketplace. In addition, we offer convenient offline batch processing for contact data files without a technical interface.

Of course, automated contact and lead validation are not the only forms of data cleanup that can help – this blog by Perkuto’s John Hill touches on other useful areas such as screening out competitors, inactive leads and people with unresponsive email addresses. With a clear process in place – and the right automation partner – it can be easy and inexpensive to optimize the value of your Marketo database at EVERY contact touch point.

Baseball and Data Quality: America’s National Pastimes

By the time October rolls around, the top Major League baseball teams in the country are locked in combat, in the playoffs and then the World Series. And as teams take the field and managers sit in the dugout, everyone has one thing on their mind.


Honestly, I am not just using a cheap sports analogy here. Many people don’t realize that before my current career in data quality, I was a young pitcher with a 90+ MPH fastball. I eventually made it as far as the Triple-A level of the Pittsburgh Pirates organization. So I know a little bit about the game and how data plays into it. We really ARE thinking about data, almost every moment of the game.

One batter may have a history of struggling to hit a curve ball. Another has a good track record against left-handed pitching. Still another one tends to pull balls to the left when they are low in the strike zone. All of this has been captured as data. Have you noticed that position players shift their location for every new batter that comes to the plate? They are responding to data.

Long before there were even computers, baseball statisticians tracked everything about what happens in a game. Today, with real-time access to stats, and the ability to use data analytics tools against what is now a considerable pool of big data, baseball has become one of the world’s most data-driven sports. The game’s top managers are distinguished for what is on their laptops and tablets nowadays, every bit as much as for who is on their rosters.

And then there are the people watching the game who help pay for all of this – remember, baseball is fundamentally in the entertainment business. They are all about the data too.

A recent interview article with the CIO of the 2016 World Champion Chicago Cubs underscored how a successful baseball franchise leverages fan data at several levels: for example, tracking fan preferences for an optimal game experience, analyzing crowd flow to optimize the placement of concessions and restrooms, and preparing for a rush of merchandise orders in the wake of winning the World Series (although, as a lifelong Cubs fan, I realize that they’ve only had to do that once so far since 1908). For any major league team, every moment of the in-game experience – from how many hot dogs to prepare to the “walk up” music the organist plays when someone comes up to bat – is choreographed on the back of customer data.

Baseball has truly become a metaphor for how data has become one of the most valuable business assets for any organization – and for a competitive environment where data quality is now more important than ever. I couldn’t afford to pitch with bad data on opposing players, and you can’t afford to pursue bad marketing leads, ship products to wrong customer addresses, or accept fraudulent orders. Not if your competitors are paying closer attention to data quality than you are.

So, pun intended, here’s my pitch: look into the ROI of automating your own data quality, in areas such as marketing leads, contact data verification, fraud prevention, compliance, and more. Or better yet, leverage our demographic and contact enhancement databases for better and more profitable customer analytics. By engineering the best data quality tools right into your applications and processes, you can take your business results to a new level and knock it out of the park.

Service Objects’ DOTS Lead Validation Service

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Great Debate: When to Validate Your Contact Data

A famous beer commercial had people debating whether it tasted great or was less filling. A similar debate is brewing among data quality professionals: do you validate your contact data when you first add it to your marketing automation platform (MAP), or at the time you use it?

The answer to both debates is exactly the same: YES.

First, let’s look at the first argument. Validating contact data such as names, email and physical addresses and phone numbers before recording them to the MAP has several advantages up front:

Saving money.  Most of the platforms charge based on the number of contacts in your MAP.  By validating the lead ahead of time, you can avoid adding and paying for bad leads in your MAP.

Garbage in, garbage out. Putting dirty data into your marketing database skews whatever metrics or analyses you might do beyond marketing campaigns, including the all-important conversion rate. And catching bad contact information in real-time, lets you message the user at time of entry so they can correct it, preserving valuable leads and preventing possible customer service issues.

Detecting bogus names and fraudulent leads. What good is a database full of Donald Ducks and Ninja Turtles, who faked you out to get a free report? Tools such as name validation can programmatically catch and keep fraudulent contact information out of your MAP in the first place.

Avoiding penalties. Saving the wrong contact data can cost you – big time – if it violates regulations such as the TCPA and Do Not Call lists for phone numbers, or CAN-SPAM compliance and ‘spam traps’ for email addresses. Automated validation tools let you flag high risk contacts before you save them.

Finally, there is the broader question of lead quality. MAPs provide lead scoring based on how the user used the site, but may not protect you from fraudulent or bad data. Contact-level lead validation adds a quantitative value of lead quality, based on over 130 criteria, that lets you decide to fast-track a lead, put them in your drip campaign to see how they respond, or even discard the lead.

Now, let’s look at the other side of the coin. Validating lead data regularly, particularly at the time you use it, has several advantages as well.

Coping with change. Over 70% of contact data will go bad in the course of just a year. Lead validation tools can check your existing leads and then correct, update, or remove them based on the results. This saves you money by only keeping and paying for viable leads, allowing marketing to identify sources of high and low quality leads, and providing more accurate reporting.

Avoiding penalties, part 2. You logged a phone number in your MAP last year. You used it in a marketing campaign this year. What is the difference? Up to $14K in TCPA fines, if this number changed from being a landline to someone else’s cell number. Always validate phone numbers and email addresses before every campaign, to ensure TCPA, Do Not Call and CAN-SPAM compliance.

Taking care of your customers. By triggering emails or other contacts to customers who appear to have changed their addresses, using tools such as our national change-of-address (NCOA Live) capabilities, you provide better service and pro-actively avoid future service or delivery failures.

Making your IT department happy. Lead and contact validation tools are easily automated within most MAP systems – for example, Service Objects’ contact validation tools have webhooks and API interfaces you can use with platforms including Marketo, Eloqua, Hubspot, Pardot, Ontraport and others.

Incidentally, that beer company never did resolve the “tastes great/less filling” controversy. Likewise, we’re going to play both sides of this debate – because it is easy and inexpensive to validate your lead and contact data every time you enter or use it. With the right automation partner, data quality can simply become one less thing to worry about in your marketing efforts.

Is Your Shopping Cart Feeling Abandoned? Data Quality Can Help

Dating experts will tell you that people have more problems committing than ever before. And nowhere is this more evident than in your online shopping cart. According to Barriliance, a vendor of online shopping cart optimization tools, over three-quarters of people abandoned their carts in 2016, with specific figures ranging from 73% on desktops to over 85% on mobile phones.

Cart abandonment sounds like a term straight out of family therapy, but in reality it provides an important window on consumer behavior. Some factors for bailing out on a purchase may be unavoidable – for example, customers may window-shop on their phones to purchase something later, or become reluctant to purchase when they see high shipping charges or additional fees. But other factors are within your control, and these often revolve around data quality issues.

Here are some of the big ones:

Too much data entry. Your customer sees 20 ‘required’ fields to be completed to check out.  Instead, they abandon the cart due to too much ‘form friction’. For greater conversion, we want to reduce the amount of friction wherever possible to promote a fast and accurate checkout process. Autocomplete tools can help lessen the friction, and are generally considered accurate, as they are based on the individuals’ contact information. Whereas, address-suggestors should be used with caution, as they can present the user with multiple address matches close to their own.  This significantly increases the risk of the user accidentally selecting an incorrect but real address. This can also create increased confusion when credit card authorization fails due to mismatched address, further increasing cart abandonment. Regardless of the tool, Address validation should always take place after the customer uses autocomplete and/or address-suggestor, to reduce the risk that a wrong – but valid and deliverable – address gets used.

Computer literacy. Often your richest target markets struggle the most with ordering things online – and too often, throw up their hands if there are too many hardships to placing an order. This means that cart recovery often revolves around being able to reach out to a customer and help them complete the order.

By using phone validation and email validation tools, you can help ensure correct contact data is captured in the event that you need to call or email customers about incomplete orders, and hopefully convert some of these into completed ones. These contacts are generally very effective: for example, Business Insider cites figures from marketing automation firm Listrak showing that 40% of follow-up cart recovery emails are opened if sent within three hours.

Payment information. When people pay by credit card online, they are usually entering 16-20 digits, and typos and bad information can quickly kill valid orders. A Luhn check, a real-time, simple checksum formula designed to distinguish valid numbers from mistyped or otherwise incorrect numbers, can help ensure the credit card number entered at least meets the basic criteria.  You can also check the Bank identification number (BIN) to ensure correct credit card numbers, that have passed that Luhn algorithm, are legitimately issued by financial institutions even before trying to process the actual charge.  This provides the opportunity to engage the customer at the time of entry and allow for corrections.  As a bonus, BIN validation also helps screen out fraudulent payment information before you process the order and/or ship.

Keep It Simple. The design, layout and even language used for your cart make a difference too. Kissmetrics notes that buyers can be turned off by faux pas ranging from bad design, making people create an account, or the process is too complicated.  A simple, clean step-by-step guide can provide confidence for your shopper and increase your conversion rates as well.  When there is an error, do not overlook the power of strong and informative error messaging.  For example, if email validation returns a specific error, let the customer know the precise nature of the error and provide suggestions on how to fix it. A generic ‘error’ message is not enough.

Finally, there is one kind of cart that always should be left behind: people who are trying to place fraudulent orders. You can use bundled tools such as lead and order validation to perform real-time multi-point contact validation on US, Canadian and International leads, comparing data such as name, company, address, phone, email and device against hundreds of authoritative data sources. The results provide both an individual quality score for each data point and a composite quality score (0-100), to ensure that you are working with genuine and accurate leads.

Online order entry truly is a bit like dating. We can’t make everyone fall in love with us, or guarantee that they will make it all the way to the altar. But with the right kinds of tools, including building in data quality safeguards at the API level, we can boost our chances of success substantially. And that is something every online merchant can be in love with.

The Cost of Incomplete Leads to Your Business

If you are old enough to remember the disco era, one of its biggest hits was “Got to Be Real” by Cheryl Lynn. (And if you’re younger, it’s been sampled over 100 times since.) Decades later, if you work in marketing, this tune should become your new theme song.

The lifeblood of any marketing operation is its lead generation efforts. And sadly, many of these leads aren’t real – according to industry figures, as much as 25% of your contact data is bad from the start, and from there 70% of it goes bad every year as jobs, roles and contact information changes. This ranges from fake or fraudulent contact data, often entered to gain access to lead generation bonuses, all the way to fat-fingered data entry.

Unfortunately, when your contacts aren’t real, the costs involved are very real:

Marketing costs: Direct mail costs can easily total $2-3 or more per piece mailed, while outbound telemarketing costs can top $35 to $60 per lead. In both cases, there is direct cost in both time and resources to working with bad contacts. Nearly any lead conversion strategy has a scalable cost per prospect, and bad or fake leads directly eat into these costs.

Wasted human effort: Take the labor costs, taxes and benefits you pay for the direct employees on your sales and marketing teams. Add in the costs of the overhead and infrastructure they require to do their jobs. Now multiply that by the percentage of time these people spend mitigating bad leads, and this total probably adds up to a very real and tangible cost, as well as impacting sales conversion rates.

Inefficiency: Ultimately, every business must deal with the problem of bad contact data. But the real question is when you deal with it. In many businesses, where data quality is no one’s responsibility, it gets fixed the hard way when prospects don’t answer and direct mail pieces bounce back. We describe it as the 1-10-100 rule, where it may cost a penny to catch bad contacts as they are captured, 10 cents to cleanse them after capture, and a dollar to work with uncorrected data. In addition, bogus leads can bog down your CRM or Marketing Automation platform, driving up costs and negatively impacting marketing campaigns.

Customer service reputation: Your all-important first impression on a potential customer pivots around responding to their requests – and if you fail to respond due to bad or misdirected contact information, the damage is often permanent. For example, if a customer enters their email incorrectly but are waiting to receive information from customer service, causing dissatisfaction and frustration.

The good news is that each of these costs can easily be controlled by automating the data quality process for your contact lead data, using tools that range from address verification to filtering out fraudulent names. For marketing operations, you can also use bundled lead validation capabilities that check over 130 data points to yield a lead quality score from 0 to 100, as well as lead enhancement that appends phone and contact information to your existing lead data.

The key to success in marketing, according to Forbes Magazine, is to know your customer. Data quality – making sure every contact record in your database is as genuine, accurate and up-to-date as it can possibly be – represents an important and cost-saving first step for this. Or as Cheryl Lynn would say, they’ve got to be real.

Lead Validation and Identifying Nonprofit Organizations

Service Objects, Inc. is fanatical about customer support, we love working with clients and prospects to build the kind of APIs that they want and need.  Some of our best ideas come from listening to our clients and prospects, discussing their problems and figuring out how we could help solve them.  Often, we do quite a bit of tailoring and will develop new features to help solve some of their challenging problems.  One of the recent additions to the Service Objects’ library is identifying nonprofit organizations, also known as not-for-profit, or Tax Exempt organizations within our DOTS Lead Validation service.

Why is it important to know if an organization is a nonprofit?

Nonprofits follow different rules than most organizations and a company’s interaction with a nonprofit may be completely different than it would be with a for-profit company. Knowing that you are engaging with a nonprofit beforehand allows you to be better prepared and make informed decisions moving forward.

As an example, we recently worked with one of our clients to enhance our Lead Validation service to identify non-profits in their prospect database.  This helps them determine the viability of the customer, their ability to transact large purchases, as well as the pricing they can offer.  In some cases, nonprofits may not need to pay sales tax on goods, which could be a factor in determining how much to charge them.  These are just a couple of examples of the value of knowing the type of organization you are working with.

What is a nonprofit and how do we identify them?

There are many types of nonprofits and most of us are familiar with the visible “public charities.” This is a narrow definition, as non-profits are generally defined as an organization that does not operate solely for gain and generally have special tax considerations.  With this broader definition, recognizing organizations can be tough.  They can be; human service organizations that help provide food, shelter and assistance in times of disaster, researching the next big cure, protecting the environment or animals, supporting civil rights groups, helping with international humanitarian needs, human rights or supporting various religious organizations.  The following graphic shows the distributions of current nonprofits:

Source: National Council of Nonprofits, What is a “Nonprofit”?,

For Service Objects, there are multiple ways we identify a company as a nonprofit, including by Tax number (EIN), address or location, business name and/or a combination of the above.  We continue to develop and improve this feature of our Lead Validation service and are happy to make it available to all of our customers.

At Service Objects, we are committed to meeting the needs of all our customers.  It is just a little more rewarding when we can contribute to doing good as well.

The Top 7 Skills of Successful Marketing Professionals

Good marketing is the bedrock of most business’ revenue pipelines; their number one job in many instances is to generate high quality leads through a variety of channels that can be converted into sales. Add to that the responsibility for creating, managing and communicating the entire organization’s brand, and the importance of marketing’s role becomes clear.

So what are some of the ingredients of a successful marketing professional? Here are some of the key traits of the very best ones:

Creativity. We put this first for a reason. More than anything, marketing creates “a-ha” moments by framing what businesses do in a new light. Where did Apple’s call to “think different,” Progressive Insurance’s Flo, or Dos Equis’s Most Interesting Man in the World come from? From the minds of people who thought far beyond MP3 players, insurance policies, or beer.

Communication. Marketing inherently tells a story. And whether that story involves quality, productivity, or success, good marketers place customers in the middle of a credible narrative that improves their lives. When you searched on Google, purchased a book or a dust mop on Amazon, or drove off in a new Tesla, you bought into a story that promised to tangibly make your life better.

Project Management. When you watch a football game or a musical performance, you are seeing a team executing specific roles under the direction of a good coach or bandleader. Marketing is also a thoughtfully composed performance, led by people who can get stakeholders like product developers, data analysts, sales managers and operations staff to all play in harmony.

Flexibility. Marketing is the polar opposite of the person who makes the same widget for 20 years. Markets change, opportunities develop, and competition never stops. Hockey great Wayne Gretzky once said that the best players don’t skate to where the puck is, but to where the puck is going – and in much the same way, good marketing professionals are always thinking three steps ahead.

Results. Professional comedians make their craft look easy on stage, but in reality, their acts are refined from months or years of experience about what works best with their audience. Likewise, good brands are fueled by information, market research, and outcomes evaluation.

Market savvy. Whether it is a manufacturer selling airplanes to airlines, or a hipster hoping their product video goes viral, every market has its culture and norms. Good marketing professionals “get” things like what strategies work with what market segments, what the size and potential of their market are, and what their competitive landscape looks like.

Data savvy. We saved the best for last. Marketers from a generation ago would never recognize how much data drives the revenue stream of today’s businesses. Smart marketers recognize that they need tools to help them make better decisions about the customers they serve. In addition, to maximize the value of lead data and be effective in communicating with customers and prospects, marketer’s need to have data quality tools in place to be sure their contact information in their database in genuine, accurate and up-to-date.

This is where we come in. Service Objects came into being nearly a generation ago – and nearly 3 billion contact records ago – to do something about the estimated 1 in 4 contact records that are inaccurate, incomplete, fraudulent, or out-of-date. Our proprietary tools, which combine up-to-date USPS, phone and demographic databases with sophisticated capabilities for lead validation and customer insight, add power (and revenue) to your marketing efforts. We can validate contact information, append missing information, and even score leads for quality, across a suite of products that plug in to your application or data processing. Visit for more information.

Why Data Quality is Key to the Sales and Marketing Relationship

History is full of famous “frenemies,” from opposing politicians to the latest Hollywood gossip – people who work closely together but get under each other’s skin. But in your workplace, one of the most common frenemy relationships is between sales and marketing.

On paper, of course, both teams drive the revenue side of their organization. Their functions are critical to each other, and they support each other’s efforts. But scratch the surface, and you’ll often find some built-in sources of conflict:

“Marketing doesn’t give us enough good leads.”

“Sales piddles around and then blames us for not closing the deal.”

“Marketing doesn’t listen to our needs.”

“Sales is always making unrealistic demands about lead quality.”

In reality, both teams are linked to a common shared goal, and often frustrate each other when these goals don’t happen as planned. And very often, the culprit is data quality.

The problem in most organizations is that data quality is nobody’s job. Marketing is focused on lead acquisition, and sales is focused on closing contracts. Making sure that contact data is accurate, names aren’t fraudulent, or leads are qualified all take time away from people’s daily workflow. And over time, more than 70% of this data becomes even more incorrect as changes happen. Unfortunately, the result is that bad data is accepted as part of the status quo – or worse, leads to fingerpointing.

The solution to this problem is obvious: automate the process of data quality. Thankfully, solutions exist nowadays for turning your raw contact data into a stronger revenue generation engine. Here are some of the capabilities you can build right into your contact intake and marketing process:

  • Lead Validation can verify contact addresses against real-time USPS and Canada Post databases, cross-validate these addresses with phone, email and IP address data, and then return a lead quality of 1-100 from an analysis of over 130 data points.
  • Phone Append can take your contact data and find corresponding phone numbers, using a proprietary database of over 800 million consumer, business and government phone number listings, with up to 75% accuracy.
  • GeoPhone capabilities can produce latitude and longitude data from your phone contact data for geographically-based marketing efforts – or even find corresponding mailing and SMS/MMS addresses, for over 400 million available phone numbers in North America.
  • For outbound telemarketing campaigns, Phone Exchange can verify the accuracy and type of your phone contact records. In addition to lead accuracy, this can help you discover numbers that have changed hands since your last campaign, particularly wireless numbers – and help keep you from running afoul of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), where fines for unwanted calls can run as high as $1500 per violation.

Capabilities like these yield an immediate ROI for the effectiveness of your sales and marketing efforts, which are fueled by the quality of your contact data. In addition, as prospects turn into customers, they can play a key role in preventing fraud and maintaining customer satisfaction.

This is a situation where a little technology can make a real difference in the dynamics of your sales and marketing teams. Here is an analogy: with real life “frenemies,” family therapists generally try to find solutions that help both sides feel like they are winning. Data quality tools are like family therapy for your sales and marketing team: they take their most common points of conflict and turn them into revenue-building solutions that everyone can be happy with.

Omnichannel Solutions and Data Quality

Just a few decades ago the concept of a “channel” didn’t exist, other than on your television. If a customer or prospect wanted to contact you, they called you or wrote you a letter. And if you wanted to contact them, you got out your Rolodex – or if you were a large enterprise, perhaps your batch mainframe computer, with disk drives the size of a washing machine.

Today, sales, marketing and customer support take place across multiple touch points that include point of sale, online orders, emails, social media inquiries – and even those same traditional phone calls and letters. Increasingly, this contact data is managed by integrated enterprise systems rather than separate vertical applications. Which also means that all of your sales and support channels often serve as pipelines to a common contact database.

Over the past five years, we have been in the midst of an omnichannel revolution in enterprise solutions. The reason is simple economics – particularly the growth of inexpensive, scalable, cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications. Once upon a time, enterprise software seemingly required months of planning and a cast of thousands to implement. Today, even the smallest operation can license applications that integrate ALL of their customer touch points on an inexpensive per-seat basis.

The era of integrated, multi-channel applications also means that the impact of bad contact data is now greatly amplified. Here are some examples:

  • Many customer touch points are notorious for providing incomplete or incorrect contact information. This can range from the person who enters “Mickey Mouse” or a fake address to get free marketing incentives, all the way to customer support tickets with missing contact data.
  • An estimated 25% of marketing contact data is bad – and in an enterprise solutions environment, this bad data propagates across all of your sales and marketing activities, wasting time and resources.
  • Telephone numbers change constantly, and your next telemarketing campaign could find you inadvertently – and illegally – calling consumer cell phones in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), exposing you to potential fines of up to $1500 per violation.
  • Data entry mistakes in order processing can lead to lost shipments, wasted time and human intervention, and customer dissatisfaction.
  • Identity fraud cost businesses over $18 billion in losses in 2014, and much of it could be avoided by matching IP address locations to customer orders – so, for example, your system can red-flag a big-ticket domestic order originating from an overseas computer.

The solution to issues like these is to build data quality right in to your enterprise contact data, with a little help from Service Objects. Our tools can validate, append and update addresses using continually verified data from the USPS or Canada Post. We can geocode and analyze your order data for fraud verification, tax compliance and more. We can do real-time phone number verification to help you maintain TCPA compliance. More strategically, we can do lead scoring and enhancement to turn your contact data into a revenue-generating engine. Using API and batch processing interfaces, these tools and more provide a seamless way to put your contact data quality on autopilot.

The omnichannel era is here to stay – and in the process, contact data has become a strategic asset for companies of any size. We can help you leverage the power of this asset, by making sure this data is genuine, accurate, and up-to-date. And with the right partner, you can let data quality drive a tangible difference in revenue across all of your channels.

The Importance of Address Integrity

“We all know that direct marketing can be tough when at least 30 percent of all leads generated online are bogus. Here is the problem: marketing departments are incentivized to bring in as many leads as they can. However, it is nearly impossible to know which leads have potential just by looking at them.” – Geoff Grow, Founder and CEO, Service Objects

Service Objects’ Founder and CEO Geoff Grow understands better than most people the importance of having quality leads, increasing conversion rates and lifetime customer value, while avoiding fraud and waste. This is why Service Objects offers real-time API data quality solutions and cloud-based connectors for leading CRM and Marketing Automation providers. These solutions are designed to improve your marketing efforts through data quality excellence.

This video will show you how you can instantly identify, verify, and qualify lead information at the point of entry. You will learn about tools that verify and correct your contact information, score leads from 0-100 using proven audience and conversion models, validate addresses against geographic IP locations, and append neighborhood-level demographic information to your leads to increase their value.

My Bright Orange Swedish Pension

Our professions don’t exempt us from real life. Doctors get sick, contractors have leaky roofs – and people who work at Service Objects receive misaddressed mail, just like the rest of us. But one piece of junk mail that recently arrived at my house wasn’t just a mistake: it was a full-fledged tutorial on everything that can go wrong in a direct mail campaign.

For starters, it was a big orange envelope with a bold message on the front – in Swedish. Which I don’t speak. A quick visit to Google Translate revealed that by opening the envelope, I could discover how to see my entire Swedish pension online.

Alas, I don’t have a rich Swedish uncle who has left me a pension. However, the person who used to live in my house did speak Swedish. So this mailing might have been useful to her when she lived here. Unfortunately, that was over 12 years ago.

So now, let’s suppose that this was meant for her, and that she in fact would like to learn about her Swedish pension. The next problem was that her last name was incorrect. Or more accurately, it would have been correct had she not gotten married 18 years ago and taken her husband’s last name.

But that’s not all. The street address was incorrect as well. Actually, they kinda sorta got it right, which is why it probably ended up at my house. But the street name was translated into the same kind of pidgin Swedish that I haven’t seen since the prank subtitles in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. For example, “Saint” = Sankt and “Anne” should be “Ann”.

Mercifully, they did get my city of Santa Barbara, California correct. But it was written in European format, with the ZIP code first (e.g. 93109 Santa Barbara CA). And apparently they don’t do commas in Sweden.

Finally, they did at least make sure that this went to the United States. Because they put this no less than three times in the address, in three different styles (US, USA, and U.S.A.)

Of course, spending a little quality time with Service Objects could have fixed all of these problems, easily and automatically:

  • Our Address Validation 3 product would have turned this address into a correctly formatted, CASS-certified USPS address.
  • More important, our National Change of Address (NCOA) Live would have produced a current, up-to-the-minute address for the intended recipient.
  • Finally, our Lead Validation product could have validated their contact record and assessed the overall accuracy and viability before sending.

This incident was pretty funny. But at another level, it is also sad. Think of all the resources that were expended sending this piece of junk mail across the Atlantic. Now multiply this by all the other misaddressed pieces of mail that were probably sent out in this campaign. Then multiply it again by the amount of direct mail that crosses the globe every day. That sum could pay for a lot of Swedish pensions.

If there is one silver lining to this story – aside from hopefully entertaining our blog readers – it is that at least this piece of mail will not end up in a landfill somewhere. It now hangs proudly on our Wall of Shame here at Service Objects, as a reminder for why we do what we do. And how we can help YOU save money and resources.

How Lead Validation Works

As a marketer, one of your jobs is to ensure that your sales team has access to high-quality leads. So how do you go about screening your lead lists for accuracy? Believe it or not, most marketers are doing very little to measure the quality of their leads , leaning heavily on the lead scoring tools in their marketing automation platforms to help screen leads. But this is not enough and is only one small part of the bigger lead validation picture. In fact, according to a study conducted by Straight North, about half of the leads generated by your marketing campaigns are not actual sales leads.

In our previous blog, ‘Custom Lead Scoring and How it Works‘ we touch on the perils of lead scoring. So what can you do to ensure you’re handing off high-quality leads to your sales team? Service Objects’ DOTS – Lead Validation solution is a good place to begin.

How does it work?

Now, you’re probably wondering how does Service Objects “know” whether or not a lead is a legitimate person or viable contact? Without getting too technical or giving away trade secrets, I can tell you that we use a combination of our best-of-breed data quality tools to look at key elements of a contact record. By examining a combination of the contact record’s data points like; name, email, address, IP address, device, etc., we are able to derive an overall lead certainty and quality score for each contact record. This is what DOTS Lead Validation does.

Once you have these lead quality scores, you can create specific rules and actions based on the scores. To give you some real-world scenarios, let’s run through a couple quick examples showcasing how you can use Lead Quality scores to develop rules-based actions that will streamline your marketing and sales processes:

Chip’s call center

After implementing DOTS Lead Validation API into their lead capture process, “Chip’s Call Center” sets up the following rules for their incoming, real-time leads, making it more efficient for their sales team to prioritize and respond to their potential customers.

If the lead’s quality score is between:

  • 75-100, Lead is systematically moved to the top of the call center’s call list and assigned to the best performing sales reps.
  • 60-74, Lead is assigned secondary priority on call list and sent to second tier sales reps.
  • 50-59, Lead is sent an email asking for further confirmation/interaction
  • 25-49, Lead is placed on an email drip campaign (cost effective)
  • 0-24, These leads are largely considered time-wasters and ignored or placed on a monthly newsletter with low-conversion expectation

Martha’s marketing agency

Martha is driving traffic from multiple channels and audiences within these channels, and needs to decide the best way to allocate her monthly budget. The sales cycle for her company is 9-12 months, so she has little concrete data from which to base her decisions.

  • Most of Martha’s leads are delivered from external sources like Adwords, LinkedIn and Facebook. With Lead Validation, Martha can easily determine the lead quality scores for these channels. Here’s how that score report might look:
  • Adwords – Campaign#1, average Lead Quality score of 78
  • Adwords – Campaign#2, average score of 36
  • LinkedIn, CEO Audience – 90
  • LinkedIn, IT/Developer audience – 54
  • Organic, average score of 87

Based on these average scores, Martha decides to place the majority of her marketing budget in the top scoring channels.

Heather’s house of iPhone accessories

Heather wants to buy a highly-targeted email list to drive traffic to her online store. In the past, she has purchased lists that did not perform and needs a reliable way to pre-determine the quality of these lists before buying them. As part of her negotiation with the list broker, she asks them to, “Please bounce your email list against Service Objects’ Lead Validation service and let me know the average score. I only want to buy leads that score a 50 or higher.

The point I’m highlighting here is that by investing in a Lead Validation Service to determine Lead Quality scores, your company can create whatever strategies, rules, and actions that best fit YOUR experiences and needs. Even more importantly, you can preset sales quotas and expectations around the different lead quality scores.

The power of lead validation

DOTS Lead Validation is the first step in recouping the inevitable 50% of unusable sales leads coming in. You have been shown a great resource to increase ROI on your marketing campaigns, save your company unnecessary costs, expand marketing and sales efficiencies, as well as elevate overall company morale. The benefits of incorporating a lead validation system will bring about a successful, sustainable business and we would love to help you get started!

Custom Lead Scoring and How it Works

Lead scoring is a powerful sales feature offered in just about every marketing automation platform. Companies with a solid lead scoring methodology in place are better equipped to not only evaluate VOLUMES of customer prospects, but more importantly, they can zero-in on “sales-ready” leads, and turn them into opportunities!

So what exactly is lead scoring? Marketo defines lead scoring as “a shared sales and marketing methodology for ranking leads in order to determine their sales-readiness”. Essentially, leads receive a score (i.e., a points system or ranking: A/B/C/D, or perhaps “hot”, “warm”, or “cold”), based on the interest customers express in a company’s products or services, etc.

Working together, marketing and sales teams rely on these scores to determine where potential customers fit into the buying cycle.

Remember, a customer’s lead score is dynamic, requiring re-evaluation from time to time, based on a predetermined set of criteria. When marketing and sales teams operate from the same set of lead scoring rubrics, they position themselves to drive more efficient and effective marketing campaigns.

Setting up for success

But what if you’re new to marketing automation? How will you go about setting up a sustainable lead scoring strategy? How will you be integrating the information from your data into a viable scoring system? How will you measure lead successes or failures? There are many factors to consider, but before you jump right in, you’ll need to do your homework and get clear about your company’s unique marketing goals.

You can start by answering this question: Who is your target audience and what rules will you put in place to define your ideal buyer profile?

To help create your lead scoring model we recommend that you start with a lead-scoring rules checklist that aligns with your needs, such as the one created by Marketo. When it comes time to evaluate your data, it’s very important that you consider a combination of explicit and implicit-based information: explicit scoring comes from what your prospects tell you directly about themselves and implicit scoring is derived from your observations or inferences from their behaviors.

With over 250 lead scoring rules, Marketo’s checklist does an excellent job of helping to identify:

  • Key demographics that pertain to your company’s individual goals (company info)
  • Behavior-based scores to consider (online behavior, email & social engagement)
  • Bad behaviors that warrant low or negative scores (unsubscribes, incorrect or erroneous information, spam detection)

Okay, so how do these rules work to determine lead scores? The rules can be as sophisticated and/or as complicated as you’d like, providing you the ability to create your own custom rules as well. Let’s walk through a couple examples.

Perhaps a strong lead score is assigned to someone who has: visited a specific product page, downloaded a white paper, engaged in a live chat session, AND then visited the pricing page. Conversely, you may give a low lead score to a lead who only visited a non-product page, like the Careers page. Leads with low scores might be sent back to nurturing or you might decide that they are not worth your time at all.

Once you’re up and running, measuring successes and identifying opportunities should come from a combination of sources. Marketers can make well-rounded, future decisions based on feedback from their sales teams, their customers, and from company analytics. The goal is to pinpoint the content and actions that are successful in converting leads into customers.

Identify, validate, and clean it up!

So what’s the common denominator in this lead scoring equation? Without a doubt, it’s that you cannot do any of this without contact record data. Above all else, the contact data entering your lead scoring system must be genuine, accurate, and up to date.

As the number of data entry points increases, so does the propensity for erroneous data to corrupt your system. In other words, you need to know, in all stages of the buying cycle, that you are working with “real” people! Following the “garbage in, garbage out principle”, if mistakes are made and not caught at the point of entry, then your pipeline will be peppered with dead end leads, wasting time and resources.

Unfortunately, marketing automation platforms do a poor job of ensuring the contact records captured are genuine, accurate and up-to-date. This is where Service Objects comes in. Our Lead Validation tools perform real-time checks to verify the contact data entered is real. We also offer a free Data Quality Scan, which gives you a detailed report on the quality of your existing contact data and areas where it can be improved

Clean Up Your Sales Pipeline: Lead Scoring vs. Lead Validation

The lead score simplified

As it stands, you are the one who decides what and how your lead scores are determined, most likely through rules you set up in your marketing automation platform. Your main objective is to send qualified leads to your sales team and of course you want those leads to be “hot”!! This is why lead scoring has become such a vital resource to marketing and sales teams— prioritizing leads to weed out dead end and “junk” leads. Accurate lead scoring helps you make informed decisions about what actions needs to be taken, whether manual or automatic, for each lead in the sales pipeline. From a conversion standpoint, lead scoring allows you to measure and qualify your leads based on:

1. Explicit Scoring—Looking at your leads to find out if they are the “right person” for your products or services, i.e., role/job title, company type/industry, company size/number of employees, company revenues, etc.

2.Implicit Scoring—Finding out if these leads are showing the “right level” of interest in your products or services, i.e., online behaviors and level of engagement of anonymous and known visitors, such as frequent visits to websites, form activity, email click-throughs, content downloads, etc.

According to Aberdeen Research, “companies that get lead scoring right have a 192% higher average lead qualification rate than those that do not”. That’s huge! Of course you need support from your execs and your sales team to make it happen, and you all need to agree about the definition of a lead and then how marketing will handoff those leads to sales, but more importantly, and this is a big element, your success in lead scoring, will depend on the technology that you’re using to capture information, orchestrate the lead handoff, and then ultimately track and process feedback.

High lead scores need validation too

Even with the best lead-scoring systems in place, we are human and humans make mistakes. What if a high-scoring, “hot” prospect somehow enters an incorrect email address or phone number? How does your sales rep contact this user to close the deal? The truth is, they can’t. Even though this lead completed the form and scored highly, there wasn’t an empirical solution in place to catch their mistake at the point of entry. Sadly, this lead now becomes “cold” or “dead”.

The key point here— just because a lead gets a high lead score, DOES NOT mean it’s also a valid lead. These are two separate entities altogether. To give you some perspective, let’s take a look at 2 hypothetical situations, one without lead validation and the other WITH a lead validation solution in place:

WITHOUT a lead validation solution

An iPhone 7 user visits a company’s home page, continues onto a service/product page, and then downloads their service whitepaper. During their 6 minutes on the site, the user signed up to receive the blog posts. Based on the rules set up in the marketing automation platform, this visitor is placed in a high-value lead drip campaign, where they’ll receive a set of emails that are specific to the service they are interested in, along with the benefits it brings. Marketing automation considers this a highly-valuable, or “hot” lead!

WITH A lead validation solution

That same iPhone 7 user completes the form from the above example as “Homer Simpson”, with a 555-555-1234 phone number, and an AOL email address, with their IP address showing they are in China but their mailing address says Santa Barbara. Even though the user did all of the right things above, and at first received a high lead-score, with the lead validation solution in place, this time around they will receive a low-quality lead validation score. At this point, marketing decides to remove this lead from the sales funnel so that it will have zero impact on future resources, reporting, and decision making. It is also important to note that the validation process is not created by the marketing team, meaning that it is not subjective.

In fact, it is a data-driven Lead Validation, i.e., Service Objects Lead Validation solution, where problems are not only identified, but legitimate leads are also corrected in real time, at the point of entry. The validation happens through these points: name, email, phone, address, IP address, device, etc., to verify that the visitor provided accurate and genuine information. Ultimately, we need to determine if this lead is in fact a real person.

The takeaway for you is, yes, lead scoring is a HUGE contributor to building a successful lead and sales pipeline, BUT it can ONLY go as far as the accuracy of the data provided. Incorporating lead validation into your lead scoring system is a powerful marketing tool and will help you reach a 192% higher qualification rate in no time. Happy validating!

Data Quality and Political Advertising

One benefit or problem, depending on your inclinations, of being in the marketing business is that you become acutely aware of the marketing that goes on around you. In many ways, that awareness is a great thing. Every day you can see great, and not so great, marketing ideas, concepts, and implementations. We learn from what others do. Now that marketing has become such a data-driven endeavor, the combination of ideas and data are the key to marketing and business success, and especially in political advertising.

The pundits are predicting that in the time between now and November, the spending on political advertising will set new records. Some estimates reach as high as $6.5 Billion across TV, print, and digital media. The people who implement political advertising are becoming more sophisticated in the ability to target potential voters due to the tools and techniques that the rest of us marketers use every day.

Here’s where the problems start. Many people and organizations rely solely on email addresses for their marketing. Yet political processes such as elections are largely local processes that rely on real people having real addresses. A great way to waste money is to throw advertising spend at the wrong people. Wasted spend would be so easy to do in this case.

The connection to data quality starts to emerge. One factor in defining the quality is the completeness of the data. Whether data is correct or not is easy to understand. Completeness is a little harder to grasp. In an election scenario, an email address alone certainly may not be of much benefit. Knowing a street address and having some certainty that the address is correct moves us in the right direction. Appending the demographics of the location to the record speeds up the move to valuable data. Being able to attach a score to measure the quality of a lead helps. Yes, for marketing purposes, a potential voter is a lead.

Those of us not in the election business can learn a few things from those that are. The marketing has to be done now. The election date isn’t moving. Getting things right the first time becomes more critical. Time for lots of A/B testing simply doesn’t exist. We can have great creative, but the effectiveness of our work diminishes quickly with poor lists. The need for data quality becomes more apparent due to the compressed timeframe.

If you are in marketing, keep your eyes and ears open in the next few months. What we hear and see from the political process is going to be interesting. The more that data quality plays a part, the more effective all that spend will be.

Building Intelligent Applications with Applied Machine Learning

Intelligent Systems are ubiquitous in our daily lives, from facial recognition in cameras to product recommendations in e-commerce. These modern conveniences and others are enabled through machine learning. Machine learning is the process by which behavior of an application is controlled based on prior experience vs rules that are dictated by hand. Recent polls estimate that up to 50% of businesses are now using machine learning in some capacity, with an additional 22% now road mapping projects which incorporate machine learning. Fueling this growth is the massive amount of data being produced by today’s connected systems which provide valuable insights for decision making. In addition, companies such as Amazon, Google and Microsoft provide API’s that make machine learning algorithms more accessible.

Learning style

Machine learning algorithms can be categorized by learning style; supervised and unsupervised. Supervised learners will use training data associated with a label to train the machine and yield the desired output. A supervised learning algorithm is used when the output classes are already known, such as whether an email is spam or not. An unsupervised learner, on the other hand, will not have any provided labels and determine classes through finding structures or patterns in the data.

Machine learning in practice

Choosing the right algorithm is the task of a Data Scientist whose responsibility it is to find insights on the data and make decisions on which learner is appropriate. Service Objects takes the guess work out of finding the right algorithm in DOTS Name Validation. In its latest operation, NameInfoV2, classification of a name is performed to determine whether a provided name is a person, business or unknown. Using sophisticated learners coupled with a proprietary database of millions of names yields a highly accurate system for classifying and scoring a name. This helps clients improve efficiency in sales and marketing operations by knowing whether a provided name is in fact a person or some entity.

Adapting to future needs

Building intelligent applications that can adapt to the needs of our users is paramount to ensuring our clients are receiving the highest quality data. With more intelligent applications on the roadmap, Service Objects edges closer to realizing its mission of ensuring every contact data point is as accurate as possible.

Revealed: 4 Fresh Lead-Generation Tools for Closers

Are you looking for fresh lead-generation tools to help boost sales? Do you have a rock star sales team already, yet know your sales force could close even more contracts if they had access to better leads? There are excellent new resources being developed for business owners and marketers thanks to entrepreneurs within the lead-generation sector. Following are four you might want to investigate if skyrocketing sales and happy customers are on your must-accomplish list:


OptinMonster offers a WordPress plugin for lead-gathering. You can create custom exit forms for your site to capture email subscribers for your business. Features include A/B testing capabilities, conversion tracking, and page-specific target messaging. If your business is using WordPress as its content management system, OptinMonster is definitely worth investigating.

Right Hello

Right Hello generates leads for businesses using a proprietary algorithm. Once qualified leads are generated, Right Hello helps connect you with potential customers via personalized emails and social media interactions. Your sales team doesn’t have to worry about discovering high-quality leads and can instead focus on closing sales with satisfied customers.


If you want to close more deals with businesses in your local area, ProspectWise is worth investigating. ProspectWise offers data on local businesses, obtained by having paid prospectors visit businesses. In addition to obtaining business cards from each establishment, lead generations sleuths interact with owners and staff to understand the needs of each company. Data is then passed onto ProspectWise customers capable of fulfilling the required needs of local business owners.


Sparta offers a handy platform to help turn your sales staff into supercharged lead-generation dynamos. You can create custom competition challenges for your staff to gamify the lead-generation and sales-closure process. Run multiple challenges at the same time for different departments and have team members compete against rival departments.

These are just four of numerous tools being developed by entrepreneurs within the lead-generation sector. Discovering fresh resources for your sales team can help increase sales while igniting team camaraderie at the same time. Will you be considering any of the above-listed tools for your sales force?

While generating leads is important for your business, making sure they’re accurate and up-to-date is even more so. All the leads in the world won’t help you if their contact information is incorrect. Be sure to clean your newly sourced leads with Lead Validation before importing them directly into your CRM to effectively reach your customers.

Preventing Online Fraud with Digital Fingerprinting

Every individual is unique; from DNA makeup to personality, even one’s online presence is particular and can’t be duplicated 100%. As experts in the space of contact data quality and contact data validation, we look at a unique contact record as that individual’s digital fingerprint.

lead-validation-digital-fingerprintFingerprints are usually associated with forensic science, or the science of gathering and examining evidence of past events. Since every human being has a unique fingerprint, it is a surefire way to identify the exact people who were present at the scene of a crime. Using fingerprints for identification is not always this scandalous, however, and is sometimes a precautionary measure for prospective employers to verify that an applicant is really the person he or she claims to be on paper.

Our composite fraud prevention tools employ a similar logic when validating contact data. They look at five specific data points which define each customer or contact –it’s like scanning their digital fingerprints. When we find that the user-supplied contact information doesn’t match the data points in our contact set, our APIs flag the contact for further investigation. In some exceptional cases, legitimate users may stray from a few components of their digital fingerprint; they may interact with your website from a foreign IP address while they’re traveling, or begin using a different email address if their old one got hacked. But most of the time, an unrecognized combination of contact data points is a red flag.

What exactly are the five pieces of information we consider to make up one’s digital fingerprint?

  1. Name. Every real, genuine online user has a name. One’s full name may be parsed into prefix, first, middle, last, and suffix, and each name will have a correct and particular spelling. More than one person can certainly share the same, exact name, but in conjunction with the other key data points, the name fortifies an individual’s digital fingerprint.
  2. Address. The shipping or billing address supplied by a user is a strong indicator of the contact record’s integrity. A valid address will give the location of an existing and occupied residence, business, or post office box.
  3. Phone Number. Phone numbers are registered to people and organizations, and therefore are associated with at least one contact. It is also important to note whether a phone number is still connected and in service, what line type it currently is, and if it’s been ported.
  4. Email Address. In many online activities and interactions, users must provide their email address. Especially in eCommerce, a valid and active email account is a vital part of the customer’s digital fingerprint. Online businesses need their users’ email addresses to maintain communications and the relationship, and without it, they don’t have the user’s complete digital fingerprint to verify.
  5. IP Address. The geolocation of an online user’s connection, via his or her IP address, is vital to fraud prevention. Identifying use of public or anonymous proxy servers can give you insight on that person’s genuineness and integrity.

Any one user may engage with your website using various forms of his or her name, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, or IP addresses. So an individual’s digital fingerprint may encompass multiple combinations of these datapoints; but any valid and verified combination of a name, address, phone number, email address, and IP address is sure to be attributed solely to one person. After all, even identical twins, who have indistinguishable DNA, have their own distinct fingerprints, both physically and virtually.

If you’d like to see how Lead Validation can help you verify the identity of your contacts by looking at their unique digital fingerprints, please request a demo, or start a free trial.

Data Normalization: The Key to Verifying Online Leads & Orders

Updated from original post Why Cross Checking is Important When Using a Contact Validation Web Service, published 02/17/10

Although the Internet allows for many business benefits, it is also an effective way that fraudsters create bogus leads or orders—ultimately creating business headaches. Online fraud is a pervasive issue that costs businesses billions of dollars every year in lost merchandise, customer satisfaction, and resources. There are many data quality companies who provide services to verify your online leads and orders, but how exactly do they go about doing that? And how are you supposed to decide which service provider will best meet your fraud-prevention needs?

Given that online leads and orders consist of multiple pieces of customer data points, it is imperative that the data verification process goes beyond checking the validity of each individual piece of information. In a truly valid lead or order, all elements must not only be accurate, genuine, and up-to-date, but consistent with one another. This means that your fraud-detection software service should normalize, cross-reference and compare the contact data for consistency, and generate a score or rating of the customer’s authenticity. It should be able to flag warnings that include:

  • A mismatch between the computer’s IP address and billing/shipping addresses
  • Inputted phone number owned by a different name and address
  • Disposable or bogus email addresses
  • A fictional or bogus name
  • Bank Identification Number of credit card is from a country of high risk

If the lead or order validation service you’re using does not employ advanced cross-checking algorithms, you risk accepting accurate but not genuine data in your database and systems. Your sales team may waste time trying to qualify fake contacts, or you may send out a shipment without knowing if the credit card used is legitimate and actually belongs to the intended recipient.

Here are some other crucial data elements to look for in a strong Lead Validation or Order Validation web service:

  • US address verification that includes Delivery Point Validation and USPS CASS-certified data
  • Canadian address verification
  • Reverse phone lookup
  • Detailed phone exchange information
  • Email validation with MX record and syntax checking
  • Comprehensive IP address validation
  • Bank Identification Number (BIN) validation for issuing bank authenticity

If your business relies on ecommerce transactions for revenue, Order Validation is a must to protect your business. And if your sales team relies or accurate, genuine leads to bring in new sales, a Lead Validation tool is great for building your business. If you’d like a demo of our data validation service or a free trial, please give us a call!

The Fight for Data Integrity

The importance of data quality to companies cannot be denied; but how many know how to identify high quality data from poor data? Even if companies identify a data integrity issue, do they understand the inefficiencies and wasted resources that result from it? Often times the individuals who recognize a data integrity problem are not the decision makers, resulting in a misunderstanding of how poor data quality is impacting the bottom line.

Organizations need to become aware that every customer entry point is an opportunity for bad data to enter their systems. Proactive measures should be taken to keep contact records and databases clean.

The first step a company should take to improve data integrity is to identify in real-time the areas where bad data is entering the system. Poor data quality has a downstream effect on all systems it interacts with, so the best solution is to reduce and prevent bad data directly at the source.

Common Origins of Bad Data:

  • Online customers:  Customers may intentionally enter incorrect information into web forms.
  • Front-line employees:  Customer Care representatives or support personnel are pressed for time to help as many customers as possible.  This can lead to abbreviated or incorrect data being entered into the system.
  • Typing errors:  Fingers can get tangled on a keyboard; letters or numbers become transposed or spelled wrong.

Poor Data Quality

Taking actions to improve the quality of data entering your database can lead to significant business gains and higher levels of customer satisfaction. One simple way to improve data integrity is to verify, correct and append customer contact information in real-time. This includes performing lead validation, address validation, phone number append, and email validation on contact records before it enters the database.

Failing to put proper data integrity procedures in place today can lead to significant waste down the road. Companies need to take the time to protect its most important business assets – customer data.

LeadsCon 2010… Its all about Quality Leads

I am out in Las Vegas attending LeadsCon 2010. THE Lead Generation Conference. After day one, the event is off to a great start. What I have noticed is that throughout the sessions, a recurring theme is Quality.

Quality Data. Quality Leads. Quality relationships between lead buyers and lead sellers.

I couldn’t agree more. The internet is rife with bad data and bad leads. And passing off this bad data as a “lead” is one of the key reasons for friction between Lead Buyers and Lead Sellers. So what is the answer?

“Keeping honest people–honest.” Contact validation is a critical component in this process. Whether you are a lead buyer or a lead seller, contact validation can help ensure the validity and contactability of a lead. By looking at a variety of data points for each contact, Lead Validation will help determine whether or not a lead should be accepted, rejected or reviewed.

The skinny on the benefits:
Lead Sellers- Improve your standings with buyers by increasing your percentage of valid/actionable leads. Demand higher price point per lead.
Lead Buyers- Only buy the leads that are the highest quality and likelihood of contactability.

Visit us on the web to see how our Contact Validation solutions can help you ensure the leads you are buying or selling are really going to drive more business to your bottom line.

Posted by: Gretchen N.

Why Cross Checking is Important When Using a Contact Validation Web Service

I have been working with web services for over 6 years now and have helped many companies both big and small to resolve their frustration with the online world of bogus lead chaos and bad affiliate programs.

With all of the information and services available to help validate your inbound leads you need to make sure that it is doing more than just a simple check for validity. There are a lot of Lead Validation services out there claiming that they are the best, but let’s really ask ourselves, what are they doing that is so unique? How will they really be able to assure you that they are catching your bad leads?
Good Question.

Lead Validation ROI in Plain English: Save Thousands per Month; Get 5.8 days ROI

A recent study by Marketing Sherpa found that when filling out web forms less than 40% of those surveyed provided accurate phone number and custom information—such as address—all of the time. The reality is most people are reluctant to give up their precious contact information when doing research or filling out requests for information. More often than not, the data is inaccurate, incomplete or fraudulent.

Where does this leave marketers, sales managers and lead generators? It leaves them sifting through mountains of contact data with the hope of isolating the true and valid leads that will bring more revenue to the bottom line. According to the Direct Marketing Association, 93% of marketers cite contact data quality as one of their most important issues.

Implementing a lead validation or verification solution is one way marketers and business managers can improve lead quality in real-time and at the source, and ultimately save money by shifting focus to high scoring leads, fixing questionable leads and discarding downright bad leads. 

Do the Math-
Here is a simple calculation showing where businesses save money by validating their leads:

Let’s say your business generates 100 leads per day or around 3,000 per month. 20% or 600 of those leads turn out to be bogus or bad leads. If your telesales team spends around 5 minutes per call and calls each lead an average of 3 times before qualifying and discarding bad leads, that is 15 minutes per lead. At $23/per hour that’s about $5.75 per lead—or $5.75 wasted on pursuing a lead that was ultimately determined to be bad. Multiply that by the estimated 600 bad leads per month and that’s $3,450 per month wasted telesales resources. Using a service like DOTS Lead Validation℠ will validate leads in real-time, before they arrive at telesales, and costs only about $.22 per lead or around $678/month for 3,000 transactions.

That is a savings of $2,772/month-with an ROI on the use of the Lead Validation solution in about 5.8 days.

In a nutshell, lead validation works by:

Validating whether the contact information is real. Is it a real address? Does 100 Main Street actually exist in the zip code provided?
Verifying that the contact name or business is associated or linked with the address, phone number and even IP Address provided.
Correcting address, city, state, and email elements as needed to make the lead data as complete as possible.
Scoring the lead based on the quality of data. Estimating the quality of data entails not only a check on data correctness as entered but quality as established through a method of proprietary checking and sophisticated cross correlation of supplied data with other data sources. An overall score is provided based on the quality of the pieces of contact information such as name, business name, email, IP address, phone number and street address. Recommending that you Accept, Reject or Review the lead.

Download our case study for more details on how DOTS Lead Validation can save your business money today!

Posted by Gretchen N.

Service Objects’ Ongoing Dedication to Fighting Fraud

Hi everyone! As you probably know, Service Objects‘ goal as a company is to combat fraud and enhance and validate lead information. We do this with many different solutions, but one of our most effective solutions is our DOTS Lead Validation Web Service. I wanted to spend a few minutes talking about some of the exciting upgrades we have made to improve this service, and perhaps some of the things we are looking to do in the near future as well.

One of the interesting things that I run across as an engineer when working with leads, is the difference between a bad lead, and a badly filled-in lead. For example, a bad lead is created by someone intentionally providing fraudulent information, or filling in random garbage just to get something for free. A badly filled-in lead could be an honest and interested person, but perhaps they omitted key information, misspelled an address, or in general just made a mistake when filling in their information. DOTS Lead Validation looks at these types of leads skeptically, since any mistake could be an indicator of a lead that is less reliable than others. However, rather than outright failing these leads, we prefer to identify the problem, and then go on to fix and enhance the lead.

Our focus over the last month was to improve the address verification element within DOTS Lead Validation. In addition to our excellent address validation and and Delivery Point Validation (DPV) services within DOTS Lead Validation, fixing the addresses that are improperly formatted (addresses without spaces or gross spelling errors) is something that we have greatly improved. We continue to fix any inconsistencies, but now we also count those inconsistencies and report them back as warnings, so that our users will understand where the problems have occurred.

Other areas of DOTS Lead Validation improvement are in the email and IP address components. We have greatly sped up the rate at which email addresses are validated, as well as adding improved detection for problematic email addresses (e.g. identifying emails with box names that appear to be randomly generated). On the IP address side, identification for both proxy servers and high risk countries has been greatly improved, allowing Service Objects to assign larger penalties for questionable leads.

Areas of DOTS Lead Validation that we plan to improve in the near future include expanding the service to include other countries. We are happy to announce that DOTS Lead Validation support for Canadian leads should be available shortly. Additionally, one of our most important upcoming tasks will be the continued development of our disconnected phone number tests. We are confident that all of these efforts will continue to improve our DOTS Lead Validation service. Every lead verification test is important to us and we pride ourselves on finding things that no one else would to improve the quality of every lead.

Thanks for reading this week!

Jonas S.

Have questions for Jonas S.? Email him at