Where in the World? – DOTS Address Detective International

DOTS Address Detective International is our latest addition to our international suite of products. The new service attempts to append a country to a lead or contact record that either doesn’t have one or helps identify that an incorrect country was connected to the record.

The service can use any combination of Address, Phone, IP Address and Email to determine the best country for the location of the input data. These components are examined individually to determine a best country or perhaps multiple potential countries and then cross-examined with each other to determine the overall best fit. This is not a simple undertaking as data is not always clean and often the result may be unexpected. However, given a few inputs, Service Objects can reliably append a country to most leads or tell you why it can’t be done. We can also help companies determine when their own methods for determining the country have failed.

Challenges for detecting country

There are many challenges around properly determining the country from a set of data. While we can predict a country from just one input, these challenges show why it’s important to try to validate with as many inputs as possible. Think you can tell a country by address alone? Take our short, fun Country Quiz to get a sense of how difficult this can be.

Addresses around the world have wildly inconsistent formats. The paradigm of address, city, state, zip does not apply to many countries. In addition, databases, CRMs and marketing automation platforms where user data is stored, do not always conform well to the country of the user. So, data can be jumbled around, missing or even in another language.

Phone numbers present a whole different challenge. Phone numbers are often user submitted and could potentially include access codes or call-out codes. International users may or may not include a country code and without that, it is only possible to guess at the true country based on length or format.

IP addresses are often the cleanest way to detect country but aren’t always collected or may not be the true owner’s IP, especially if it was collected from a list or secondary source. A user using a company VPN, proxy or even using a service that makes the IP anonymous can lead to false positives.

Email addresses can be the most misleading of all, since the location of the user and the mail server that host their messages may be in very different areas, especially for common domains.

Why do you need to determine the country?

There are many reasons knowing the country of your contacts might be a necessity. Here are just a few:

Marketing. Here at Service Objects, we ask for some basic details on our registration forms before new users get started. Like many other companies, our marketing team does not want to ask for too many details, they call this signup friction. The more data fields you ask for, the more likely a prospect will move on. By detecting country, we can eliminate one more field from the form and lessen signup friction. Until recently, we have been primarily focused on companies in USA and Canada, so our in-house marketing database rarely has the contact record’s country attached to it. When it does, the contact’s country is determined by the sales team on the fly, a judgment call that can be time-consuming and error-prone, as we quickly discovered when using the service on our in-house contact records. Enterprise level companies will find this process even more challenging.

Even if your company collects country, most likely its going to be user-generated, which potentially leads to even more problems. For example, one of our colleagues admits that when he fills out a web form and country is required, he will often choose Albania as the country simply because it appears first on the list.

Cost Savings. Maybe you have an old list of contact records or a CRM full of contacts where the country was never provided and want to validate them for accuracy. Many validation services require country as an input or at the very least, have to perform a more expensive validation because the country is missing or inaccurate. Our service reliably and affordably can append the country before performing more comprehensive validations.

Compliance. The newest challenge comes from the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which regulates how companies protect EU citizen’s personal data. Companies need to know if their contacts reside in any of the EU countries covered by GDPR or risk non-compliance and heavy penalties for violations. Service Objects is dedicated to helping companies mitigate these risks by helping identify EU contact records and leads, especially those that are either missing the country or were not accurately obtained. The service will include flags identifying leads that are likely to be in the European Union or have data points within it.

We will also expand the offering to include new areas of interest as well as they form. Countries like Japan, Australia and Brazil are all moving down the path of having similar regulations and our service will assist in identifying those records as well. Used in conjunction with a service like DOTS Lead Validation International, whose purpose it is to validate the authenticity of users around the world, gives the best edge for solving GDPR and data-protection related problems.

Test drive Address Detective International

So how do you use Address Detective International to detect your contact records’ country? Start with a complimentary API key or send us a list for batch processing. If you would like to discuss in more detail, please contact us, we love talking about data validation!