Cleansing Mailing Lists: How Do Validator Solutions Work?

Cleansing Mailing Lists: How Do Validator Solutions Work?

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Validation is the process that checks the validity of a landlocked address or email address to ensure that a product or package or email message reaches the destination it is intended for. A wrong customer address creates a logistical headache for any company, preventing the accurate delivery of communications and products, besides bearing the burden of costly reshipments. The same principles apply when you’re validating a phone or mobile number.

All That You Wanted to Know About Address Validation but Were Hesitant to Ask

How Does an Address Validation Solution Benefit Me?

The professional validator uses scientific tools that capture addresses and numbers, and validates them, correcting misspellings and many other errors that creep into databases. Address and phone validation is crucial to direct marketing and is a vital cog in customer relationship management (CRM) protocols.

Maintaining the accuracy and quality of customer databases is necessary when companies focus their marketing efforts within a select band of potentially high net worth customers. The customer database is continuously monitored and updated, weeding out incorrect or fake addresses that communications could bounce off undelivered.

By correcting addresses and numbers automatically, professional validating tools ensure that the company’s mailing list contains only genuine addresses. The sanitized list is populated with addresses that are actionable and to which communications can be safely directed without the risk of increasing bounce rates.

Meticulously crafted and efficiently delivered address validator solutions can save companies thousands of dollars in logistical costs and optimize profits. Really sophisticated address validators have access to global databases, ensuring that your shipment safely reaches its intended port of call anywhere on the planet.

What Differentiates Address Validation From Address Verification?

A lot of people (even hardened pros) use and confuse both terms interchangeably. This is a mistake because both are distinct and fulfill different purposes. An address verification system   (or AVS) verifies whether the address provided by the customer matches the address recorded in the company database. To an extent, this eliminates the risk of somebody using a fake address to gain access to financial services.

Let’s take an example. A customer buys a product using his credit card. He supplies his billing address to route the package. If the AVS detects that the billing address is different from the one in the company database, the customer’s transaction is blocked. So verification is useful as a fraud prevention tool.

Verification checks and matches only the numbers in the address – usually the apartment number and zip code. The aim is to checkmate fraudsters who can’t transact a card without knowing the owner’s mailing address or may try to reroute packages to a fictitious address (that won’t match with the recorded address).

Address validation checks the entire address from start to finish. It matches the address against established databases such as the USPS. Validation follows a stricter standardization protocol where the data entered in different fields – Apartment number, street name, building a name, floor, landmark name, city, and ZIP – these are thoroughly checked. More advanced validation tools are capable of even filling in or correcting missing or wrongly entered data, maximizing the chances of a right match. The aim of address validation is to ensure that the company gets to deliver a message or a package to the right destination.

How Address Validators Deliver Last Mile Accuracy

Whether the landlocked address is local or international, there is a way that address validators ensure last mile accuracy. It’s called geocoding. It means you’re finding out the GPS coordinates (longitude and latitude) of the actual address. It normally takes a person standing on the rooftop with a mobile device to check and find out the real GPS coordinates marking an address.

The address validator uses a combination of math, algorithms, and the science of interpolation. The validator “triangulates” three known GPS coordinates circling the area to find the international address. This system may not deliver the “rooftop” accuracy of a handheld GPS but provides “street-level” accuracy which is enough to confirm and validate the address.

Phone Number Validation – Why Do They Do It and How?

There are billions of mobile users, and surveys indicate that more than half of them use these devices to access the web. This represents a huge market hungry for information and very receptive to commercial communications. If possessing a valid email customer address is a gift for a direct marketer, the customer’s mobile number is a bonus. Both the email and phone enable direct and more personalized customer contact – the Kickstarter of sales conversions. In a world of informative and educative communication, the SMS is as powerful a medium as the email in targeting a commercial message.

If That Answers the Why; Let’s Probe the How of the Question: How Is Phone Validation Accomplished?

Addresses are simpler to handle as they normally carry building names, street names, and zip codes. Phone validation is a tougher nut to crack. Every international phone number is prefixed by an area code and the country code, and you get a string of numbers that vary in length. Again, countries vary in the use of separators like dashes or reverse slashes between the numbers. Phone validation needs higher technical sophistication and regulatory compliance which only experienced professionals (such as Byteplant) provide.

How Phone Numbers Are Formatted

Let’s take an imaginary American number to illustrate the point. Assuming 555-0300 is the number of the customer, its national format would be (202) 555-0300; its international format becomes +1 202-555-0300. If we analyze the number, 555-0300 is the base number, 202 becomes the area code, and because we’re using the number locally, we add +1 to substitute the county code.

Imagine a similar number being adapted in a zillion ways by countries across the globe, and you get an idea why phone number validation becomes such a complex task.

E.164 Formatting Simplifies International Call Numbering

To makes things easier, an international numbering plan was formulated. It’s called the E.164. In this format, our numbered example will appear like +12025550300. As there are no separators, the E.164 formatted number easily fits into any database.

But the Problem Persists and Validation Comes to the Rescue

The problem is you have no control over the format that the customer uses to communicate his phone number. Also, it’s difficult to tell the difference between a land number and a mobile number just by viewing the number.

At this point, your company spokesperson might suggest, “Why bother with phone validation? I’ll send a code through SMS to the number to elicit a direct response from the customer.”

If you’re handling ten or fifteen customers, that may be worth a try, but not when you’re sending hundreds and thousands of SMSs. If bulk SMS bounce off wrong or incorrect phone numbers, you’ll be losing money and your reputation in the process.

Phone validation saves money and protects your reputation.  The tool validates a number before you make that call or send an SMS, and does that by accessing and cross-matching the customer’s number with global databases that operate using E.164 formatting.

A Word About the FCC Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)

The TCPA lays down guidelines protecting consumers against the onslaught of telemarketing calls. There are restrictions in place when you automate calls to customers and send recorded voice messages. The law requires companies to secure “express consent” from consumers before sending promotional material. An effective phone validation system prevents companies from falling foul of these regulatory measures and saves companies thousands of dollars in noncompliance penalties.

Reasons Why the Phone Validator Should Be Your First Port of Call Before Making the Customer Call

For any company that aggressively promotes its products and services, phone validating solutions can’t be ignored. They clean up the database, eliminating fake numbers, saving companies the time it would have taken to do the work manually, and the money that would others be diverted to unproductive calls.

  • Companies get an actionable list of genuine numbers that can take promotional calls.
  • An accurate list ensures existing customers can be followed up and new customers are validated and added to an expanding campaign.
  • Distinguishing landline and mobile numbers prevents wasteful messaging to land numbers.
  • Call centers don’t lose time and money on abandoned calls and invalid numbers.
  • With a genuine listing, the whole approach to marketing can change to focus more personalized attention to customers.

Conclusion

Whether we speak of big businesses or small entrepreneurs, the quality of contact information is an invaluable asset worth protecting. You have three reasons for validating customer contact information – you drive sales, improve marketing campaigns, and bring a whole new dimension to customer service. All three areas benefit when validation services remove invalid addresses and fake numbers on an ongoing basis.

Remember that validation kicks in well before a single customer call is placed. You don’t divert money on unproductive campaigns, you save time on manual work, and your marketing team becomes focused and efficient. As a company, you get a load off your shoulders when you receive fully automated geocoded addresses and verified/validated phone numbers – the perfect foundation for launching a result-oriented marketing campaign.

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