What’s in a Name? The Importance of Global Name Validation

A quick online search of the US white pages shows that there are over 1500 real people named George Washington, more than 50 named William Shakespeare, and a surprising number of Steven Spielbergs. There is even a recent tongue-in-cheek commercial featuring a real person named Mac(kenzie) Book touting the benefits of the Microsoft Surface laptop.

When it comes to your contact database, however, fake or incorrect names can cost you real time and money – and can even make you vulnerable to fraud or damage your brand reputation. In this article, we will look at how validating first and last names can give your business the power to make sure you have genuine, accurate contact records for real customers and prospects.

Why the right name is important

There are several reasons why effective contact records start with having the right name:

  • Getting the name – or gender – of someone wrong can leave a bad impression with customers and prospects.
  • Fake names such as “Donald Duck,” often submitted to obtain free information from marketing campaigns, waste your time and increase your costs every time you run a campaign.
  • Bogus or garbage names that cannot be traced to real people can be a flag for suspicious activity, such as fraudulent orders or marketing inquiries.

In addition to having valid names to protect your contact database integrity, learning more about these contact names can also lead to more profitable marketing efforts and customer relationships. For example, knowing a person’s gender, or whether a contact is a business or personal name, can help you target your contact activities more precisely. In this way, name validation gives you the ability to both verify and enhance your contact data assets.

How name validation works

So how does it work? DOTS Name Validation parses names from anywhere in the world into individual data fields, while checking them for accuracy and validity.

This service is easy to use: its input consists of a name string, together with some optional parameters for special cases. In response, it outputs a validated name where possible (or sometimes two names, if your input consisted of a string such as “Steve and Mary Smith”), as well as a wealth of associated data. In addition, Name Validation retains important accented characters often found in global names in the output of the service.

Here are some of the things we check for:

  • Whether this name validates against a proprietary global database of millions of domestic and international names
  • Individual data fields for the name’s prefix (Mr., Ms., etc.), first name, last name, and suffix (such as Jr. or Sr.)
  • The suggested order of the name: for example, changing “Jones John” to “John Jones”
  • Quantitative scores for the likelihood that this name consists of a vulgar, garbage or celebrity name, as well as common dictionary phrases such as “White House”
  • The likely gender of this name, including a “Neutral” response for names common to both genders
  • National origin of common names
  • Whether this name is a business or a person
  • Related names (such as Bill or Billy for William)

Perhaps most importantly, we indicate whether this name appears to be valid, as well as a “best guess” name for those that are unable to be validated. Armed with this information, you can flag suspicious names for removal or further processing and have a greater degree of confidence in names that pass validation.

Good marketing starts with knowing your customer

Aside from better data hygiene and contact quality, there is another very important reason for getting accurate customer name data: it is the key to personalizing your marketing efforts.

A recent survey of over 1000 consumers showed that personalization leads to larger purchases, increased revenue, and fewer returns. More important, it creates greater brand loyalty: forty-four percent of customers surveyed say they are more likely to return for more business after a personalized experience. And with the holiday shopping season nearly upon us, this can be an important competitive advantage for your marketing campaigns and customer outreach.

According to Dale Carnegie, the sweetest sound in any language is the sound of a person’s own name. With help of automated name validation capabilities, you can leverage accurate name data as a key component of building effective relationships with your customers and prospects.

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