Posts Tagged ‘marketing automation’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A New Role: The Marketing Technologist

Once upon a time, life was simple. There was marketing, and there was IT. The former did creative work to drive the product creation and sales process, and the latter kept the computers, software and networks running. In large organizations, the former had a Chief Marketing Officer and the latter had a Chief Information Officer. And if the two departments talked, it was usually about things like software licenses or password resets.

Fast forward to 2017. Marketing is now a heavily data-driven field, where success involves things like marketing automation platforms, CRMs, big data analytics, social media analysis, content personalization, and data governance. Technology and automation software now play key strategic roles in the marketing process. Which leads to a new buzz phrase that is now here to stay in the industry: marketing technology.

Content management firm Docurated defines marketing technology as “tools and platforms used by sales and marketing organizations to effectively complete their duties.” These marketing/sales tools and platforms are becoming increasingly complicated to deploy and administer while new ones are being introduced at an exponential rate. To manage these technologies, many organizations now have a formal leadership role, embedded within the marketing organization, to oversee its use of technology: the marketing technologist. According to marketing blogger Scott Brinker, over 60% of firms have now restructured their marketing and/or IT departments to better leverage marketing technology, or plan to do so over the next 12 months.

According to McKinsey, marketing technologists are much more than IT people who have been moved to a new office: “They’re passionate about re-imagining what marketing can do in a digital world. They help nontechnical marketers craft better campaigns, programs, and customer experiences that effectively leverage software and data … They’re hybrids, who speak both marketing and IT, and naturally see the connections between them.” Whatever their formal title, they are part of a closer integration between IT and marketing, often reaching all the way up to the C-level suite.

It is important to know that the marketing technologist has emerged because of larger trends in the software industry. People didn’t just wake up one morning and decide to create this role – it evolved in response to the growth of inexpensive, scalable, cloud-based tools such as Salesforce and Marketo, as well as other trends leveraging big data and social media. In less than a decade, the automated marketing environment has gone from the province of expensive enterprise solutions to becoming a competitive necessity used by almost everyone.

One of the key roles of a marketing technologist is managing the data quality of an organization’s information assets – and where possible, creating automated processes to ensure this data quality. This dovetails with a broader portfolio of responsibilities integrating component technologies that form the basis for an organization’s marketing automation strategy.

At Service Objects, we help marketing technologists automate their data quality and leverage the maximum value from their data assets. We do this with tools ranging from our flagship address validation capabilities, which clean and validate your contact data against continually updated USPS, Canada Post and international address databases, all the way to lead validation and lead enhancement tools that make sure all your contacts work hard for you. And we make it easy to automate these capabilities, using either our enterprise-grade APIs or custom-built cloud connectors for the most popular CRMs and marketing automation platforms.

Are you a newly-minted marketing technologist? Talk with us and see how we can help build your success!

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Salesforce Trigger Integration – Video Tutorial

Here at Service Objects, we are dedicated to helping our clients integrate our data quality services as quickly as possible. One of the ways we help is educating our clients on the best ways to integrate our services with whatever application they may be using. One such application where our tools are simple to implement is Salesforce.

Salesforce is, among other things, a powerful, extensible and customizable CRM. One of the advantages of Salesforce’s extensibility is that users can set up triggers to make external API calls. This is great for Service Objects’ customers, as it allows APIs calls to any our DOTS web services and helps ensure their contact data in Salesforce is corrected and verified.

In the video below, we will demonstrate how to set up a trigger that will call our DOTS Address Validation 3 service whenever a contact is added to our list of contacts.

See full transcript below.

Hello, and welcome to Service Objects video tutorial series. For today’s tutorial we’ll be setting up a trigger and a class in Salesforce that will call out to our DOTS Address Validation 3 web service. If you don’t already know, Salesforce is an extremely powerful, extensible and customizable CRM. One of the great things that we like about Salesforce here at Service Objects is the ability to call out to APIs so that the data going into your CRM can be validated and verified before it gets entered. This means that you can call out to any of our APIs from Salesforce. You can use this video as an overview for how to integrate any of the service, but for this specific example we’ll be using DOTS Address Validation 3.

To participate in this tutorial, you need the following items. A Service Objects web service key, whether that is a trial key or a production key. You can sign up for a free trial key at www.serviceobjects.com. You will need a developer account in Salesforce. You will also need a working knowledge of Salesforce and Apex, which is the native programming language inside Salesforce. We will go ahead and get started.

To start off, one of the first things we’ll need to do is add the Service Objects endpoint into the list of allowed endpoints that Salesforce is allowed to contact within your developer platform. To do this, you can navigate here and type in remote site settings, or remote, and the remote site settings field will pop up. Here, you’ll see a list of all the websites that your Salesforce platform is allowed to contact. In my account here you can see I have ws.serviceobjects.com and wsbackup.serviceobjects.com. To add a new site, you’ll go and select new remote site. Give an appropriate name, and you will type in the URL here. You can see for this example I’m going to type in trial.serviceobjects.com which will only work if you have a trial license key. If you have a production key, you want to add ws.serviceobjects.com and wsbackup.serviceobjects.com as those will be the two primary URLs that you will be hitting with your production Service Objects account.

This trial.serviceobjects.com URL will only work with trial license keys. Click save and new or just save. You see here if we go back to our remote site settings, you can see that trial.serviceobjects.com was successfully added to our remote site settings. Now that we have successfully added the Service Objects endpoint, we’ll want to add some custom objects in our contact field that will hold some of the values that are returned by our DOTS Address Validation 3 web service. To do that, we’ll scroll down and go to customize. In our example we’re using the contacts field, but you can add custom fields to whatever field is most appropriate for your application, and we’ll select add custom field to contacts. Once we are here, we will scroll down and scroll to this contact custom fields and relationship. You can see here I have several custom fields here already defined. I have a DPV, mostly DPV information and error information, which our field set will parse out from our Address Validation 3 response.

We’ll add another field here for the sake of example. For this field we’re going to add the Is Residential Flag that comes back from the Address Validation 3 service. For this we’ll select text, select next, and here we’re going to go ahead and enter an appropriate field name, which I have in my clipboard. We’re going to call it DotsAddrVal_IsResidential. If you hover over this little “i,” it will say this is the label. This is the label to be used on displays, pages layouts, reports, and list views. This will be a more of a pretty type display. You’ll want to name it something more appropriate and something that will work better in your workflow, but for our example we’re just going to name it this.

For length, we’re going to do length of 15, and for the field name we’re just going to call it AddrValIsResidential. This is the internal field name here. When you’re calling an internal field name, you’ll have to add a double underscore and C in the Apex class. We’ll see an example of that in the next piece of code that we’re going to add. We’ll select next. You’ll select the appropriate field level security here. Next again, and go ahead and click save. To add the actual code that will call out to our Address Validation 3 web service, we’ll scroll down here, go to develop Apex classes. I have already added the class to my developer console, but just for the sake of example, I’ll go ahead and delete it and re-add it. I already have the code in a text editor, so I’m just going to copy and paste that, and just go over the code and explain some key points of it.

Now that I have my code copy and pasted in, I’ll walk through some key elements of it. In the sample code that we have, we have some extra commented out information here that gives you some resources like the product page, the developer guide. You can download this sample code along with this tutorial so you don’t have to pause the video and type it out and everything. The first thing we do is substantiate some of the HTTP request objects in this call WS by ID method. We’ll pull back the contact that’s just been added, and so we’ll pull back all these fields. Mailing street, mailing city, postal code, and state as well as the custom DPV and error information fields that we’ve entered into Salesforce. To call an internal field, an internal custom field that you’ve created in Salesforce, you’ll need to add this double underscore C at the end of it. We can see that we’ve done that here and other place where we reference these objects in the code.

Here, you can see we set the endpoint of the request to the trial URL endpoint, and this will point to the GetBestMatches JSON operation, so this will return a JSON formatted output. We’ve URL encoded all of the address information here. As you can see with this EncodingUtil.urlEncode. We’ll encode it to the UTF-8 standard. Another thing to note here is that you’ll have to put in your license key in this field here. Right now we just have it as a generic WS72 XXX, etc, but you’ll want to put in your specific license key. Here, we’ll send a request to the service, and if the response back is null, then that means there was something wrong with the primary endpoint, so we’ll come back here and check out our backup endpoint. For this example, it’s pointing to the same URL, the same trial endpoint. If you have a production key, you will want to point this primary URL to ws.serviceobjects.com, and this backup URL to ws.backup.serviceobjects.com. You’ll want to be sure to change both the license keys to whatever your license key is.

After that failover configuration, we’ll see here we checked the status code. If it’s equal to 200, we’ll go into processing the response from the service. Create some internal address fields here, and we’ll initialize the error response here to none, which would indicate that no error was returned from the service. What this does is it traverses through the JSON response of the service, and it finds the appropriate field. For this case we’ll see if it finds address1, it will set our initial address field to the address1 that was returned from the service. That will be the standardize and validated address information that is returned. We do that with all the fields that are pertinent to us. The DPV and DPV description, DPV notes description, as well as the IsResidential and error fields down here.

Here, you can see if we get a DPV score equal to 1. That indicates that the address is mailable, it is deliverable, and it is considered good by the USPS. This is the L-statement for the 200 code check here. If the 200 code wasn’t right, then we’ll say put the error description as this generic error message. At the end of this, we’ll update the list of contacts, so we’ll go ahead and click save. Now that we have our TestUtil class made here, we’ll go ahead and scroll down, select Apex triggers. To add a new trigger, we’ll select developer console, select file, new, trigger. For a name, we’ll simply call it Test Trigger.

We’ll go down here and select the contact object. We have the little bit of code right here. I have the actual code in a text editor that will call the service, so I’ll just copy that in. Now that I have this copied, you can see here that whenever a contact is added, or before it’s inserted rather, it will call the class that we made which was called WS by ID, and it will send the contact to it. To save this, just simply go to file and save. Hit refresh. We can see we now have a test trigger here. Now, to add a contact and to test out our new trigger, we’ll simply go up here, select contacts. In recent contacts, you can see here we don’t have any, so let’s go ahead and add one. We’ll add in a fake person by the name of Jane Doe. Go down here to the mailing street information, and we’ll enter in an address. For this example, we’re just going to use our Service Objects office address. We’ll put some typos in there so you can see the standardization and validation that the Service Objects web service does.

We’ll do 27 East Coat. That’s suite number 500. We’ll do Sant Barb for Santa Barbara and CA and 93101. We’ll go ahead and save the contact. You can see here that we still have the old values here, and that’s because the Salesforce doesn’t immediately call the outside APIs. It cues it up a little bit, but if we go and select Jane Doe again, we can see that now we have a standardize address here. In our DPV description, we have a message that indicates, “Yes, this record is a valid mailing address.” For this DPV score, we get a score of one. We can find the “Is Residential,” says false, meaning this is a business address. Again here, we see that the validated address, we see the USPS standardize version of the address which is 27 East Cota Street, Suite 500, as well as the validated city and zip-plus four information.

This concludes our tutorial for how to add a trigger and a class that will call out to our Service Objects web service. If you have any questions or any requests to other tutorials, please feel free to let us know at support@serviceobjects.com. We’ll be happy to accommodate.

 

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.

Email Marketing Tip: Dealing With Role Addresses

Do you have any friends named “info” or “customerservice”?

If you do, our sympathies, because their parents were probably way over-invested in their careers. But in all likelihood, you probably don’t. Which leads to a very important principle about your email marketing: you always need to make sure you are marketing to real people.

Email addresses like “info@mycompany.com” or “customerservice@bigorganization.com” are examples of what we call role addresses. They are not addressed to a person, but rather to a job function and generally include a number of people on the distribution list. They serve a valuable purpose, particularly in larger organizations – if you have a problem with Amazon.com, for example, you don’t want to wait for Cindy to get back from vacation first to respond to you.

You probably realize that role email addresses create the same problems as any other non-person in your marketing database: wasted human effort, lower response rates, bounces, and the like. However, there are several other important reasons to purge role addresses from your contact database:

Bounce Rate. Role emails are generally the responsibility of an email administrator.  These administrators are not always kept in the loop when individuals move onto other positions or leave the company.  This can result in a role email’s distribution list not being up-to-date and emails being sent to inactive email addresses.  These inactive addresses are usually set to automatically bounce emails, resulting in a higher bounce rate and poorer campaign performance.

Blacklisting. Spamming a role email address doesn’t just annoy people. As one article points out, it can trigger spam complaints and damage your sender reputation – in fact, role accounts are often used as spam traps by account holders. This can lead to your IP being blacklisted for the entire organization, cutting you off from leads or even existing customers far beyond the original email.

CAN-SPAM compliance. Permission to send email is fundamentally a contract with an individual, and marketing to a role email address risks having your materials go to people who did not opt-in or agree to your terms and conditions – putting you at risk for being in violation of the US CAN-SPAM act that governs email marketing.

New laws. In Europe, the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) takes effect in 2018, severely restricting unsolicited email marketing. While it is not always clear that you are mailing to Europe (for example, many people do not realize that household names like Bayer and Unilever are based there), you are still bound by their laws and potentially stiff penalties. Eliminating role accounts from your contact database is an important part of mitigating this exposure.

Exponential risk. When it comes to risk, role addresses are the gift that keeps on giving. One of these addresses may go to 10 different people or more – and only one of them needs to complain to get you in trouble. Moreover, you can easily get multiple complaints for the price of one errant message.

Customer reputation. When someone signs up for your contact list using a role address, it is a form of “friendly fraud” that absolves them from personally receiving your emails – much like the person who signs up as “Donald Duck” to receive a free marketing goodie. But when other people start receiving your materials without their permission as a result, it is not a good way to start a customer relationship.

Thankfully, avoiding role-based addresses is relatively easy. In fact, many large email marketing providers won’t import these address in the first place. Or if you manage your contact database from within your own applications environment, we can help. Our email validation capabilities flag role-based addresses in your database like sales, admin, support, webmaster, billing, and much more. In addition, we perform over 50 verification tests, clean up common spelling and syntax errors, and return a quantitative quality score that helps you accept or reject addresses at the point of import.

So, with pun fully intended, your role in data quality is to ensure that your online marketing only goes to live, real people who welcome your message. Our role is to automate this process to make it as frictionless as possible. Together, we can keep your email contact data ready to roll!

The Direct and Indirect Costs of Poor Data Quality

Imagine that your company runs an online ad for a product. But when your customer gets to your website, this product has actually been discontinued. And from thereon in, every time the customer surfs the web they are now constantly served with banner ads for this non-existent product.

This scenario really happens more often than you think. And it is a perfect example of marketing at its worst: spending your budget to lose customers, ruin your service reputation, and destroy your brand.

We often talk about data quality on this blog, but this time I would like to focus on the results of lack of data quality. In the case above, poor linkages between inventory data and marketing lead to a bad customer experience AND wasted marketing dollars. Much the same thing is true with our specialties of contact data and marketing leads: bad data leads to a wellspring of avoidable costs.

First there are tangible costs. Bad leads and incorrect customer addresses lead to specific, measurable outcomes. Wasting human effort. Throwing away precious marketing capital. Penalties for non-compliance with telephone and email contact laws. Re-shipment costs and inventory losses. According to one Harvard Business Review article, the real costs of poor data quality now exceed $3 trillion per year in the United States alone.

Then there is the part few people pay enough attention to: the indirect costs of poor data quality. In a recent piece for CustomerThink, data management expert Chirag Shivalker points to factors such as sales that never materialize, potential customers who turn away, and the subtle loss of repeat business. Whether it is a misdirected marketing piece, an unwanted pitch on someone’s cell phone, or a poor customer experience, some of the biggest consequences of poor data quality are never quantified – and, perhaps more importantly, never noticed.

Finally there is the fact that data, like your car, is a depreciating asset. Even the most skillfully crafted database will degrade over time. Contact information is particularly vulnerable to decay, with estimates showing that as much as 70% of it goes bad every year. A recent article from insideBIGDATA put the scope of this in very stark terms: each and every hour, over 500 business addresses, 800 phone numbers and 150 companies change – part of a growing ball of data that, per IDC, will swell to over 160 zettabytes (for the uninitiated, a zettabyte is one sextillion, or 10 to the 21st power, bytes). And the bill for validating and cleaning up this data can average $100-200K or more for the average organization. So an ongoing approach is needed to preserve the asset value of this data, as well as prevent the costs and negative consequences of simply letting it age.

A recent data brief from SiriusDecisions breaks down these costs of poor data quality into four key areas: hard costs, productivity costs, hidden costs, and opportunity costs. And it is not like these costs are exactly a surprise: according to Accenture, data inaccuracy and data inconsistency are the leading concerns of more than three-quarters of the executives they surveyed. Their solution? Better use of technology, combined with process improvements such as formal data governance efforts.

The people in our original example above probably had no idea what kind of lost business and negative brand image they were creating through poor data quality. And ironically, I would say let’s keep it that way. Why? Because it is a competitive advantage for people like you and me who pay attention to data quality – or better yet, build processes to automate it. If you are ready to get started, take a look at some of our solutions and let’s talk.

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.

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.

Getting the Most Out of Data-Driven Marketing

How well do you know your prospects and customers?

This question lies at the heart of what we call data-driven marketing. Because the more you know about the people you contact, the better you can target your offerings. Nowadays smart marketers are increasingly taking advantage of data to get the most bang from their marketing budgets.

Suppose that you offer a deal on a new razor, and limit the audience to adult men. Or take people who already eat fish at your restaurant on Tuesdays, and promote a Friday fish fry. Or laser-target a new lifestyle product to the exact demographic group that is most likely to purchase it. All of these are examples where a little bit of data analytics can make a big difference in the success and response rate of a marketing campaign.

According to UK data marketing firm Jaywing, 95% of marketers surveyed personalize their offerings based on data, although less than half currently measure the ROI of these efforts, and less than 10% take advantage of full one-to-one cross-channel personalization. But these efforts are poised to keep growing, notes their Data Management Practice Director Inderjit Mund: “Data availability is growing exponentially. Adopting best practice data management is the only way marketers can maintain a competitive advantage.”

Of course, data-driven marketing can also go sideways. For example, bestselling business author and television host Carol Roth once found herself peppered with offers for baby merchandise – including an unsolicited package of baby formula – even though she is not the least bit pregnant. Her suspicion? Purchasing baby oil regularly from a major chain store, which she uses in the shower, made their data wonks mistakenly think that she was a new mother. Worse yet, this kind of targeted marketing also led the same chain to unwittingly tip off a father that his daughter was pregnant.

This really sums up the promise, and the peril, of using data to guide your marketing efforts. Do it wrong, and you not only waste marketing resources – you risk appearing inept, or worse, offending a poorly targeted segment of your market base. But when you do it right, you can dramatically improve the reach and efficiency of your marketing for a minimal cost.

This aligns very closely with our view of a marketing environment that is increasingly fueled by data. Among the best practices recommended by Jaywing for data-driven marketing, data quality is front and center with guidelines such as focusing on data management, having the right technology in place, and partnering with data experts. And they are not alone: according to a recent KPMG CEO survey, nearly half of respondents are concerned about the integrity of the data on which they base decisions.

There is a clear consensus nowadays that powering your marketing with data is no longer just an option. This starts with ensuring clean contact data, at the time of data entry and the time of use. Beyond that, smart firms leverage this contact data to gain customer insight in demographic areas such as location, census and socioeconomic data, to add fuel to their address or email-based marketing. With cost-effective tools that automate these processes inside or outside of your applications, the days of scattershot, data-blind marketing efforts are quickly becoming a thing of the past.

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.

Making an (email) list and checking it twice: Best practices for email validation

For most organizations, one of the most critical assets of their marketing operations is their email contact database. Email is still the lingua franca of business: according to the Radicati Group, over a quarter of a trillion email messages are sent every business day, and the number of email users is expected to top 4 billion by 2021 – roughly half of the world’s population. This article will explore current best practices for protecting the ROI and integrity of this asset, by validating its data quality.

The title of this article is not just a cute play on words – and it has nothing to do with Santa. Rather, it describes an important principle for your game plan for email data quality. By implementing a strong two-step email validation process, as we describe here, you will dramatically reduce deliverability problems, fraud and blacklisting from your email marketing and communications efforts.

The main reason we recommend checking emails in two stages revolves around the time these checks take: many checks can be performed live using a real-time API, particularly as email addresses are entered by users, but server validation in particular may require a longer processing time and interfere with user experience. Here are 3 of the most important checks that are part of the email validation process:

• Syntax (FAST): This check determines if an email address has the correct syntax and physical properties of an email address.

• DNS (FAST): We can quickly check the DNS record to ensure the validity of the email domain (MX record) for the email address. (There are some exceptions to this – for example, where the DNS record is with a shoddy or poor registry and the results take longer to come back.)

• Email Server (VARIABLE, and not within the email validation tool’s control): Although this check can take from milliseconds to minutes, it is one of the most important checks you can make – it ensures that you have a deliverable address. This response time is dependent on the email server provider (ESP) and can vary widely: large ESPs like Gmail or MSN normally respond quickly, while corporate or other domains may take longer.

There are many more checks in Service Objects’ Email Validation tool, including areas such as malicious activity, data integrity, and much more – over 50 verification tests in all! We auto-correct addresses for common spelling and syntax errors, flag bogus or vulgar address entries, and calculate an overall quality score you can use to accept or reject the email address. (For a deeper dive, take a look at this article to see many of the features of an advanced EV tool.)

Here are the two stages we recommend for your email validation process:

Stage 1: At point of entry. Here, you validate emails in real-time, as they are captured. This provides the opportunity for the user to correct mistakes in the moment such as typos or data entry errors. Here you can use our EV software to check for issues like syntax, DNS and the email server – however we recommend setting the API configuration settings to no more than a wait of a couple of seconds, for the sake of customer experience. At this stage either the user or validation software has a chance to update bad addresses.

Stage 2 – Before sending a campaign. Validate the emails in your database – using the API – after the email has been captured and the user is no longer available in real-time to make corrections. In this stage, you have more flexibility to wait for responses from the ESPs, providing more confidence in your list.

It is estimated that 10-15% of emails entered are not usable, for reasons ranging from data entry errors to fraud, and 30% of email addresses change each year. Together these two steps ensure that you are using clean and up-to-date email data every time – and the benefit to you will be fewer rejected addresses, a better sender reputation, and a greater overall ROI from your email contact data.

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 www.serviceobjects.com 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.

Maintaining a Good Email Sender Reputation

What are Honeypot Email Addresses?

A honeypot is a type of spamtrap. It is an email address that is created with the intention of identifying potential spammers. The email address is often hidden from human eyes and is generally only detectable to web crawlers. The address is never used to send out email and it is for the most part hidden, thus it should never receive any legitimate email. This means that any email it receives is unsolicited and is considered to be spam. Consequently, any user who continues to submit email to a honeypot will likely have their email, IP address and domain flagged as spam. It is highly recommended to never send email to a honeypot, otherwise you risk ruining your email sender reputation and you may end up on a blacklist.

Spamtraps typically show up in lists where the email addresses were gathered from web crawlers. In general, these types of lists cannot be trusted and should be avoided as they are often of low quality.

Service Objects participates in and uses several “White Hat” communities and services. Some of which are focused on identifying spamtraps. We use these resources to help identify known and active spamtraps. It is common practice for a spamtrap to be hidden from human eyes and only be visible in the page source where a bot would be able to scrape it, but it is important to note that not all emails from a page scrape are honeypot spamtraps. A false-positive could unfortunately lead to an unwarranted email rejection. Many legitimate emails are unfortunately exposed on business sites, job profiles, twitter, business listings and other random pages. So it is not uncommon to see a legitimate email get marked as a potential spamtrap by a competitor.

 

Not all Spamtraps are Honeypots

While the honeypot may be the most commonly known type of spamtrap, it is not the only type around. Some of you may not be old enough to remember, but there was a time when businesses would configure their mail servers to accept any email address, even if the mailbox did not exist, for fear that a message would be lost due to a typo or misspelling. Messages to non-existent email address would be delivered to a catch-all box as long as the domain was correctly spelled. However, it did not take long for these mailboxes to become flooded with spam. As a result, some mail server administrators started to use catch-alls as a way to identify potential spammers. A mail server admin could treat the sender of any mail that ended up in this folder as a spammer and block them. The reasoning being that only spammers and no legitimate senders would end up in the catch-all box. Thus making catch-alls one of the first spamtraps. The reasoning is flawed but still in practice today. Nowadays it is more common for admins use firewalls that will act as catch-alls to try and catch and prevent spammers.

Some spamtraps can be created and hidden in the source code of a website so that only a crawler would pick it up, some can be created from recycled email addresses or created specifically with the intention of planting them in mailing lists. Regardless of how a spamtrap is created it is clear that if you have one in your mailing list and you continue to send mail to it, that you will risk ruining your sender’s reputation.

Keeping Senders Honest

The reality is that not all honeypot spamtraps can be 100% identified. Doing so would highly diminish their value in keeping legitimate email senders honest.

It is very important that a sender or marketer follows their regional laws and best practices, such as tracking which emails are received, opened or bounced back. For example, some legitimate emails can still result in a hard or permanent bounce back. This may happen when an email is an alias or role that is connected to a group of users. In these cases, the email itself is not rejected but one of the emails within the group is. Which brings up another point. Role based email addresses are often not eligible for solicitation, since they are commonly tied to positions and not any one particular person who would have opted-in. That is why the DOTS Email Validation service also has a flag for identifying potential role based addresses.

Overall, it is up to the sender or marketer to ensure that they keep track of their mailing lists and that they always follow best practices. They should never purchase unqualified lists and they should only be soliciting to users who have opted-in. If an email address is bouncing back with a permanent rejection then they should remove it from the mailing list. If the email address that is being bounced back is not in your mailing list then it is likely connected to a role or group based email that should also be removed.

To stay on top of potential spamtraps marketers should also be keeping track of subscriber engagement. If a subscriber has never been engaged or is no longer engaged but email messages are not bouncing back, then it is possible that the email may be a spamtrap. If an email address was bouncing back before and not anymore, then it may have been recycled as a spamtrap.

Remember that by following the laws and best practices of your region you greatly reduce the risk of ruining your sender reputation, which will help ensure that your marketing campaigns reach the most amount of subscribers as possible.

How to Leverage Data Quality to Improve TCPA Compliance

Recent trends such as the increase in households with mobile phones only and the rise of consumer lawsuits related to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) have companies such as Uber and Facebook dedicating significant resources to ensure their contact data is as genuine, accurate and up-to-date as it can be to ensure compliance.

Originally passed in 1991, the TCPA was designed to safeguard consumer privacy by restricting companies from engaging in unwanted telemarketing communications practices. Over time, the FCC has closed loopholes associated with the act and imposed significant fines. Businesses who violate the TCPA can incur penalties by the FCC of up to $16,000 per incident.  Consumers can also sue for $1,500 per unsolicited call or text message, all of which can quickly add up to fines amounting to millions of dollars.

If your business is making outbound calls or texts to customers and prospects, you need to have the best data hygiene tools in place to ensure you are only contacting parties you have permission to contact.

In addition, confirming the line type each and every time you call is a must. You need to be aware, in real time, about any recently ported landlines hidden in your calling database. Even if you confirmed a landline two weeks ago, who’s to say that it hasn’t since ported it to a cell phone, or reassigned to a wireless consumer? This is why you need verification services that use continually updated phone data.

Implementing a phone validation solution can help your business determine such things as:

  • Line provider name, city, and state
  • Line type (landline, wireless, or VoIP)
  • Latitude and longitude
  • Phone number owner’s name, address, city, state, ZIP
  • SMS and MMS address
  • Date of number porting (LNP)

If you would like to learn more about the TCPA, watch our recent webinar featuring Geoff Grow, Service Objects’ Founder and CEO, as he discusses how your business can leverage data quality to be TCPA compliant.

Data Quality in Marketing: Trends and Directions for 2017

Asking whether data quality is important to your marketing efforts is a little like asking if apple pie and motherhood are important – of course, the answer will always be “yes.” Recently, however, some interesting quantitative research was published that shed light on just *how* important it has become.

Marketing research firm Ascend2 performed a survey of 250 mostly senior people in marketing, to see what they thought about data quality. Over 80% of the respondents were in management roles, with more than a quarter of the sample holding C-level positions. Fully half were associated with large companies with over 500 employees, and more that 85% had over 50 employees. Respondents were also equally split between short versus complex sales cycles.

The results showed very clearly that data quality has risen to become a critical consideration in marketing success nowadays. Here are some of their key findings:

Improving data quality is their most important strategic objective. With 62% of respondents rating this as their top objective, data quality now ranks far above more traditional marketing objectives such as improving marketing data analytics (45%), improving user experience (43%), optimizing the lead funnel (26%), and even acquiring an adequate budget (20%).

Data quality is also their biggest challenge. Respondents also ranked data quality as currently being their most critical challenge, in smaller numbers (46%) but in similar proportions to the other factors such as those mentioned above.

But things are getting better. Fully 83% of respondents feel that their marketing data strategy is at least somewhat successful at achieving objectives, with over one-third (34%) rating their own efforts as “very successful (best-in-class).” Similar numbers also feel that their tactical effectiveness is improving as well. While 14% feel that they have been unsuccessful in achieving objectives to some degree, only 3% consider themselves to be very unsuccessful.

Data quality is a downstream process. Respondents clearly favored cleaning up contact data versus constraining how it is collected. Nearly half (49%) felt that validating contact data was the most important tactic for improving marketing data quality, while less than a quarter (24%) felt that standardizing lead capture forms were important. Other upstream measures such standardizing the data upload process (34%) and developing segmentation criteria (33%) were also in the minority.

Call in the experts. An overwhelming majority of respondents (82%) outsource either some or all of the resources they use to improve marketing data quality, with over a quarter (26%) using no in-house resources at all.

The results of the survey clearly show that data quality is one of the largest challenges that marketers are currently dealing with. Whether you are frustrated with incomplete or inaccurate sales lead data, tired of bad contact data causing customer service issues, or wasting money on marketing campaigns with results negatively impacted by poor contact data, understanding the quality of your data is the first step in identifying the true costs that poor data quality is having on your organization.

Marketers and Data Scientists Improving Data Quality and Marketing Results Together

In the era of big data, marketing professionals have added basic data analysis to their toolboxes. However, the data they’re dealing with often requires significantly deeper analysis, and data quality (Is it Accurate? Current? Authentic?) is a huge concern. Thus, data scientists and marketers are more often working side by side to improve campaign efficiencies and results.

What is a Data Scientist?

Harvard Business Review called the data scientist profession “the sexiest job of the 21st century” and described the role of data scientist as “a hybrid of data hacker, analyst, communicator, and trusted adviser.”

The term data scientist itself is relatively new, with many data scientists lacking what we might call a data science degree. Rather, they may have a background in business, statistics, math, economics, or analytics. Data scientists understand business, patterns, and numbers. They tend to enjoy looking at diverse sets of data in search of similarities, differences, trends, and other discoveries. The ability to understand and communicate their discoveries make data scientists a valuable addition to any marketing team.

Data scientists are in demand and command high salaries. In fact, Robert Half Technology’s 2017 Salary Guides suggest that data scientists will see a 6.5 percent bump in pay compared to 2016 (and their average starting salary range is already an impressive $116,000 to $163,500).

Why are Marketers Working with Data Scientists?

Marketers must deal with massive amounts of data and are increasingly concerned about data quality. They recognize that there’s likely valuable information buried within the data, yet making those discoveries requires time, expertise, and tools — each of which pulls them away from their other important tasks. Likewise, even the tried-and-true act of sending direct mail to the masses can benefit from a data scientist who can both dig into the demographic requirements as well as ensure data quality by cross referencing address data against USPS databases.

In short, marketers need those data hackers, analysts, communicators, and trusted advisers in order to make sense of the data and ensure data quality.

A Look at the Marketer – Data Scientist Relationship

As with any collaboration, marketers and data scientists occasionally have differences. They come from different academic backgrounds, and have different perspectives. A marketer, for example, is highly creative whereas a data scientist is more accustomed to analyzing data.

However, when sharing a common goal and understanding their roles in achieving it, marketers and data scientists can forge a worthwhile partnership that positively impacts business success.

We all know that you’re only as good as your data, making data quality a top shared concern between marketers and data scientists alike. Using tools such as data validation APIs, data scientists ensure that the information marketers have is as accurate, authoritative, and up to date as possible. Whether pinpointing geographical trends or validating addresses prior to a massive direct mail campaign, the collaboration between marketers and data scientists leads to increased campaign efficiencies, results, and, ultimately, increased revenue for the company as a whole.

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

What’s Dragging Your Marketing Campaigns Down?

Savvy marketers know just how important it is to capitalize on every customer lead. And as technology advances and our customer lists expand, so does the need to streamline our marketing campaigns and processes. But so many businesses are missing the boat when it comes to keeping their contact records accurate, genuine, and up to date. The reason? Poor contact record data quality.

Let’s face it, marketing platforms can only take your campaigns so far. The reality is—they are only as good as the contact records within them, leaving a lot of room for error. Yes, it is humans entering their data and we know that humans make mistakes. From something as simple as duplicate records, falsifying info, simple data entry mistakes, to aging, out of date, or lost contact records, these components contribute to the erosion of your company’s contact records.

To give you some perspective, SeriusDecisions reports that 25% of customer data is inaccurate, containing critical errors. CRITICAL! That means that you’re missing out on converting 25% of your leads into customers. That works out to be 1 out of 4 of your contact records are corrupt. The sooner you can acknowledge that contact data quality issues exist in your company, the sooner you can move towards a solution.

The Lead Form - by the Numbers
Bad Data Equates to Negative Impacts

The first step in fixing the problems is to locate the areas being impacted by bad contact record data and then pinpoint those areas within your marketing platform that need correcting. Quite simply, there are some soft and hard costs associated with poor data quality. These are the areas where you will may see and feel the effects initially (soft costs):

  • Decreased productivity from your sales teams
  • Increased costs for Lead & Customer Acquisition, Marketing Automation,
    and CRM fees.
  • Misspent marketing labor costs
  • Increased risk of regulatory fines (e.g., Do Not Call compliance, SPAM traps).
  • Increase in Customer Care efforts (resulting from unhappy customers)

Over time, these build up and begin to cause larger problems (hard costs). The major impacts being realized through increased costs and lost revenues. Perhaps you’re experiencing a high employee turnover rate or realizing that customers are walking? These consequences could be happening as a result of poor quality data.

The point is, you need to enact some cost effective measures that will identify where the bad data resides and then correct it. Once you’re back on track, you’ll want a maintenance and management system in place to keep your campaigns moving along smoothly and productively, i.e., via a data governance policy. Long story short, bad data is in your contact records and it is dragging down your marketing campaigns. But…it CAN be prevented!

Hungry for more? You can get the full picture about the impacts of poor data quality and how to prevent/improve it by downloading our white paper, “Marketing with Bad Contact Data: A Recipe for Disaster

What is a Data Quality Scan and How Can it Help You?

Marketing Automation and Your Contact Records: A Five Part Series That Every Marketer Can’t Miss (Part 5)

Putting Your Contact Records to the Test!

Now that you’ve read our series on how the quality of contact record data impacts the performance of your marketing automation efforts, we are hopeful that you better understand the importance of correcting and cleaning up these records. The next step is learning how your contact records measure up. To help, Service Objects offers a complimentary Data Quality Scan, providing a snapshot of where your data stands in real time and where improvements can be made.

DQS-ScreenHow does the Data Quality Scan work? It’s simple: we use a small sample of your data (up to 500 records), to not only find out where your data is “good”, but more to the point, what percentage of your data is bad and/or correctable. You’ll receive a data quality score for each of the five critical lead quality components.

  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • Name
  • Mailing address
  • Device

Check out a sample Data Quality Scan to see how each of these components are scored and the detailed information provided.

Once you get your results, you will have an opportunity to work with a Data Quality expert (yes, a real, live person) who will help you in deciding how best to correct and improve your contact records. From start to finish,think of them as your personal guide to improving your contact record data quality.

Leave Your Worries Behind

All in all, the Data Quality Scan is here to help marketers expose data quality problems within their companies, and we know that percentage is likely to be around 25%. It certainly wouldn’t hurt to give it a try and see for yourself, right? At the very least, ongoing data validation and correction services should become a priority within your marketing automation best practices.

And finally, before we sign off on this series, I wanted to leave you with this thought: When it comes to marketing, you have plenty to worry about. Constantly verifying and updating your marketing automation contact records should NOT be one of those worries. Implementing a data governance strategy around your contact records will ensure your records are always accurate, genuine, and up to date!

If you’re new to this series, start from the beginning! Read Part 1: Make Marketing Automation Work for You

 

Contact Data Governance in Action: It’s All About Validation & Verification

Marketing Automation and Your Contact Records: A Five Part Series That Every Marketer Can’t Miss (Part 4)

Well-integrated and accurate customer data is one of the best assets marketers have at their disposal to effectively personalize and engage customers, drive conversion rates, boost loyalty and trust, and ultimately maximize sales.” (Vera Loftis, UK managing director of Bluewolf, Salesforce experts)

Bottom line: you want the very best long-term outcome for your marketing campaigns, yes? The goal is to build a sustainable marketing automation platform, and in the world of data integrity, validation and verification are the keys to unlocking its success. And really this needs to happen at the beginning— at both the point of data capture AND/OR when migrating to a new marketing automation or CRM platform. Here’s the opportunity you’ve been waiting for!

Migrating data between platforms allows for a fresh, clean start. This is an ideal time for your Data Quality Gatekeeper to launch a preemptive strike against bad data (validate and verify). Essentially, they need to make sure that migrations and the fields being imported are accounted for BEFORE importing the data, i.e., mailing addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses can all be validated and brought up-to-date, as well as attaching demographic and firmographic information to corresponding contact records. And let’s not forget about data formatting and purging duplicate records. This is the time for remediation.

Implementing the Right Tools

To handle source data issues upfront, organizations need to employ a powerful, automated discovery and analysis tool that provides a detailed description of the data’s true content, structure, relationships, and quality. This kind of tool can reduce the time required for data analysis by as much as 90 percent over manual methods.” (Jeffrey Canter, Exec. VP of Operations at Innovative Systems, INC.)

Now you’ve followed our recommendations and have your gatekeeping system, or data governance strategy, up and running, but perhaps you’re thinking, “what’s the best way to do regular data quality check-ups and maintenance from here on out?” Honestly, you need a systematic solution in place that you can trust and rely upon. One that will continually provide THE most accurate, genuine, and up to date data for your company. AND you will want a program that, once it’s set up and running, will allow you to get on with other important jobs. Seriously, it should be as simple as “set it and forget it”.

Look no further! Service Objects provides a comprehensive set of solutions that will validate and verify your data as it’s being migrated or captured in real-time. Let’s take a look at just some of our Data On-Time Solutions (DOTS) you can choose from:

Lead Validation: A real-time lead validation service that verifies contact name, business name, email, address, phone, and device while providing an actionable lead score.

Email Validation: Verifies that the email addresses in your contact and lead database are deliverable at the mailbox-level. This feature corrects and standardizes, while assessing if addresses are fraudulent, spam-trap, disposable, or a catch-all.

Address Validation: Uses USPS® certified data to instantly validate, parse, correct, and append contact address data, including locational meta-data and the option for Delivery Point Validation (DPV).

NCOA LIVE: Keeps your contact mailing list accurate and up-to-date with data from the USPS® National Change-of-Address database (NCOALink).

Email Insight: Appends demographic data to emails from proprietary consumer database with over 400 million contacts. Supplies you with valuable info i.e., city, geolocation, age range, gender and median income of the address owner.

GeoPhone: Gives you accurate reverse telephone number lookup of US and Canadian residential and business names and addresses.

Phone Append: Supplies you with the most accurate lookup of landline telephone numbers available.

This is quite a lot of information to digest for sure. So, how do you know “what” solutions will work best for YOUR platform? Depending on your individual needs, our free Data Quality Scan will determine where your contact data might be falling short. Then you can take steps to clean up your contact records for good.

Up next: Part 5: What is a Data Quality Scan and How Can it Help You?

Data Breakdown Happens. Know the Reasons “Why” and Protect it from the Start

Marketing Automation and Your Contact Records: A Five Part Series That Every Marketer Can’t Miss (Part 3)

Welcome back! The fact that you’re interested in improving the data quality within your marketing automation platform is apparent, so let’s look at how the data breakdown happens so we can build it back up. The goal is to find sustainable and trustworthy ways to correct and effectively manage data from here on out.

So who’s responsible for ensuring good data quality? Your IT department? If only it was that simple. The fact is, your TEAM is responsible and it starts with a company that incorporates a culture of data quality and best practices. Senior managers must do their part to integrate and maintain solid data quality policies that are easy to follow and implement. Next, marketing managers must screen and clean up new lists before importing. Finally, your sales team must practice diligence when entering customer data. And, even if ALL of these groups commit to following these guidelines in the most stringent and cautious manner, you can bet that mistakes will still happen! We are, after all, human.

Now that we’ve identified the players, we can pinpoint what makes our data corrupt:

  • Inaccurate data: either info is entered incorrectly, or it becomes outdated
  • Duplicate data: multiple accounts are mistakenly set up for the same lead, i.e., some companies do not centralize their data.
  • Missing data: some fields are simply left empty
  • Non-conforming data: inconsistent field values, i.e., using various abbreviations for the same thing
  • Inappropriate data: data entered in wrong fields

Would you agree that the four most common data fields in your lead forms are: name, email, address, and phone? According to Salesforce:

These statistics highlight just how difficult it is to keep up to date and current with changing customer demographics. It’s overwhelming, especially when you consider the rate at which data is being captured. Fortunately, there IS a better way!

InfoGraph_FormTurning Strategy Into Action

We’ve discussed how even the best and most efficient internal processes can be in place yet cannot completely wipe your data clean of corruption. Oh if only…BUT, there are additional steps you can take to continue moving in the right direction. You could implement a Data Governance strategy which “refers to the overall management of the availability, usability, integrity, and security of the data employed in an enterprise. A sound data governance approach includes a governing body or council, a defined set of procedures, and a plan to execute those procedures”. Here’s what you can do:

  • Conduct regularly scheduled data quality check-ups & maintenance scans: By work with an external source to automatically scan, identify, and update your data, you will save money and headaches in the long run. Sending in the Calvary!
  • Bump up personal accountability: Consider training your sales reps and then monitoring their data input via their login info. Like Big Brother, but less invasive.
  • Hire data quality managers: They have oversight of all data input, monitoring, and management. Think of them as Data Quality Gatekeepers – like a mini task force.

Congratulations! You are well on your way to stopping the bad-data-cycle. And the most important step in doing so is: running regular data check-ups and continued maintenance. So how do you set your business up for success? Come back for the 4th part in our series where we show you how to ensure your records are genuine, accurate and up-to-date. It’s as easy as one…two…THREE!

Be sure to start from the beginning! Check out Part 1: Make Marketing Automation Work for You

If you are interested, Service Objects provides a free Data Quality Scan that will give you insight into the quality and accuracy of your contact data. Click here to get your free scan.

Up next: Part 4: Contact Data Governance in Action: It’s All About Validation & Verification

 

Impacts of Bad Data Lead to Negative Consequences

Marketing Automation and Your Contact Records: A Five Part Series That Every Marketer Can’t Miss (Part 2)

Data integrity is beyond a doubt “the” cornerstone of your marketing campaigns. Think carefully about this. ALL company decisions, both operational and strategic, are based on the information you collect from your data. And we’ve already acknowledged that bad data exists in your marketing automation platform. So just how deep do these impacts go? Let’s dive right in, looking closely at the top two offenders: Mistrust and Costs.

Mistrust:

“If you can’t trust the data, what else will you base your decisions on? If you can’t trust the data, how much effort will be wasted checking and rechecking certain results to figure out which is correct? And how much effort will be spent in investigations, root cause analysis and corrective actions required to fix data problems?” Carol Newcomb, Consultant with SAS Data Management Consulting

It’s no joke. Mistrust happens both internally and externally. Remember in our last post we stressed the importance of establishing trust between your marketing and sales teams (internal)? Well, that same nurturing needs to happen with your vendors and customers (external). Especially since their data is tied to everything in your organization. I would venture to guess that your CRM is connected to accounting. What if, after all your hard work to gain your customer, their invoice was sent to the wrong address? It’s going to get back to you and YOU are going to need to fix it. But here’s the bigger problem: when mistakes like this become repetitive, your reps stop believing that the data in their contact records is genuine, accurate, and up to date. They oftentimes feel compelled to update their own records. What’s worse, your customers and vendors will become annoyed, being asked over and over again, from different sources, for their contact info. Savvy marketers must realize that small missteps like this can lead to bigger issues, putting your company’s reputation and brand directly in harm’s way. Left unaccounted for, mistrust will weaken your company’s foundation in much the same way that a trickle of water slowly erodes bedrock, causing irreversible damage.

This leads us to Costs:

“Most organizations overestimate the quality of their data and underestimate the impact that errors and inconsistencies can have on their bottom line.” The Data Warehouse Institute

Brace yourself…you ARE wasting money. That is, bad data is causing a loss of revenue. How many emails, direct mail, and phone calls go out on any given day? Knowing that 25% of your customer data is inaccurate due to duplicate accounts, intentional and unintentional data entry errors, lost contacts, aging contact records, there is a serious loss of productivity happening here. To demonstrate the cost of quality, let’s apply the 1-10-100 Quality Management rule by George Labovitz and Yu Sang Chang: it costs $1 to verify a record as it is entered, $10 to fix it later, and $100 if NOTHING is done, which leads to loss upon loss upon loss. And, we know that corporate data is growing at an average rate of 60% per year and climbing, so it’s all the more important to screen your data going in and then maintain and manage it over time. The takeaway: quality IN equates to quality OUT, saving you time, resources and money all the way around.

If you’re like me and enjoy a detailed checklist, you’ll appreciate the following. Business2Community has compiled a spot on list highlighting many of the consequences of bad data:

  • Lower customer satisfaction and retention
  • Loss of Revenue
  • Misinformed OR under-informed decisions
  • Dissatisfied sales and distribution channels
  • Lower productivity
  • Higher consumption of resources
  • Invalid reports
  • Failure of your marketing automation initiatives
  • Higher maintenance costs
  • Errors in product/mail deliveries
  • Increased churn rate
  • Distorting campaign success metrics
  • Higher spam counts and un-subscriptions
  • Negative publicity on social media

Hungry for more? Great! Let’s begin focusing on where to find the problems and inconsistencies so we can clean up the mess. In Part 3 of our series, we’ll get up close and personal with a lead form, how these can go wrong, and then how to correct them.

If you are interested, Service Objects provides a free Data Quality Scan that will give you insight into the quality and accuracy of your contact data. Click here to get your free scan.

Up Next: Part 3: Data Breakdown Happens. Know the Reasons “Why” and Protect it from the Start

Make Marketing Automation Work for You

Marketing Automation and Your Contact Records: A Five Part Series That Every Marketer Can’t Miss (Part 1)

Are you keeping up with the competition? If yes, then you’re likely using one of these excellent marketing automation platforms to run your campaigns:

Marketing Automation2No doubt, the planning, coordinating, and executing of your marketing efforts has never been easier. But, here’s the kicker: these platforms are only as good as the quality of your contact data.

There’s a common misconception that the quality of contact record data is automatically maintained within marketing automation platforms, but, in reality, these platforms are not built to correct contact records for accuracy nor genuineness.

Without accurate, genuine, and up-to-date contact records, even the most sophisticated and expensive platforms are handicapped from performing well. According to SiriusDecisions, it is estimated that over 25% contact records contain inaccurate or critical errors. In addition, 70% of your contact records will become obsolete/change over the year. Over time and quite systematically, the integrity of your contact records will become suspect, translating to missed lead opportunities across multiple marketing channels. So how can you decipher whether the quality of your contact records is good or bad? This is something we will look at in this five-part series.

Reaping The Benefits

Switching gears, let’s imagine that your marketing automation is working at its full potential. You’re in a position to see some serious return on investment, along with reaching other important marketing and sales goals. We’ve listed three key benefits below to demonstrate why good data is at the heart of maximizing your marketing automation performance:

  • Cutting expenses—Some marketing platforms charge by the contact record. Simply correcting or eliminating bad records will result in cost savings. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. We will cover this in more detail as part of the series.
  • Increasing revenue—Handing off accurate contact records to your sales team means better contact rates and more sales, not to mention a happy sales team.
  • Accurately tracking and monitoring marketing campaigns—Good decision-making is based on good data. Accurate, measurable data is ESSENTIAL in order for these campaigns to be successful. Data needs to be precise, starting with your contact records.

Sounds so simple right? It absolutely can be, again, as long as your data is accurate, genuine, and up-to-date. And, we’ll repeat this point as many times as it takes: in doing so, you WILL save time and money!

Working Smarter, Not Harder

Think about it: managing contact records is labor-intensive, especially in a large company. Marketing and sales teams need to establish a good workflow to efficiently turn leads into profits. And as we’ve discussed, even the best resources might need a little support themselves in order to get top results. How frustrating is it to hear complaints from your sales team, time, and time again, about bad contact information, incomplete profiles, or lead rejection? As the size, speed, and values of information increase, you might soon be spiraling out of control. The last thing you want is to contribute to the poor quality of customer data which costs U.S. businesses a staggering $611 BILLION annually. Bottom line: there is no room for error. Teams must be able to trust each other and work efficiently together. Period.

So, consider this your wake-up call as we embark on a 5-part series into the realm of contact data integrity and the role it plays in your company. It’s imperative that marketing teams understand what “bad data” is and how it affects their bottom line. We’ll wrap up the series with some solutions about how you can take action and rid your marketing automation platform of bad contact data. Before signing off, here’s something to chew on until our next post:

It’s not a question of “IF” you have bad contact data, it’s a question of “HOW MUCH”.

If you are interested, Service Objects provides a free Data Quality Scan that will give you insight into the quality and accuracy of your contact data. Click here to get your free scan.

Up Next: Part 2: Impacts of Bad Data Lead to Negative Consequences