Identifying Disconnected Phone Numbers Can Improve Your Business
To some businesses, gathering contact information is an afterthought. During a sale, customer data is captured and stored away on a server only to be dragged out if it’s needed for customer service. Maybe it’s used to send along offers and updates, but, by and large, it’s of secondary importance.
For those who work in fields like lead generation, outbound marketing, sales, and customer service, contact information is a major asset — especially phone numbers. However, it’s an asset that’s only valuable if accurate. Identifying disconnected phone numbers can mean the difference between profit and loss. When these organizations have invalid contact information, they suffer for it. Poor inputs produce poor outputs. Time and money are wasted.
This problem can be addressed using a phone validation service, which removes disconnected numbers from your data. When organizations know they can trust their data to be accurate, their communication improves, business intelligence improves, and performance improves.
Reliance on Data
Marketers specializing in lead generation must find prospects to hand off to the sales team. In this field, getting the contact information of a qualified prospect is half the battle (not unlike getting someone’s number for a date). To that end, marketers are now in the habit of building marketing programs around “free” content offers (white papers, e-books, demos, etc.), where the price of accessing the content is contact information.
Digital marketers are also extremely interested in the data collected by their campaigns. They use it to judge their success and to inform future marketing directions. Unfortunately, not as much thought is given to the quality of that data.
LeadJen examined 12 lead generation campaigns across industries reperesenting over 100,000 connections made by phone or email. Their study found that conducting a lead generation program without first investing in cleaning data wastes 27.3% of each sales rep’s time, or 546 hours on average a year per rep!
Sales & Cold Calling
To the inbound marketer, contact information is a prize. But, to outbound marketers (e.g., cold callers) and salespeople, contact information is essential for their jobs. At a minimum, they need phone numbers to be accurate. Identifying disconnected phone numbers is a vital piece of the puzzle. Ideally, they will have as many details as possible about a phone number to gain a competitive advantage.
Like salespeople, customer service representatives rely on contact data to perform the basic functions of their job. In this setting, efficiency depends directly on the quality of the contact information they’re using. The inaccurate data costs are measured in wasted time from misdials and business loss from frustrating customer experiences. That may not be significant individually, but these costs multiply quickly in a high-volume call center.
The Price of Bad Phone Data
For marketers, bad data takes an especially heavy toll.
Marketers spend a great deal of time and money acquiring the phone numbers of qualified leads. They pay for advertising campaigns, create content offers, develop web pages, and pursue search engine optimization to help them generate leads. Sometimes, they buy contact lists in bulk.
According to HubSpot, B2B companies spend an average of $43 per lead. After that, it costs more to follow up on the lead through sales or through nurture programs that will (hopefully eventually) convert them into long-term customers. Once you factor in all of these expenses, the cost-per-acquisition can be substantial.
With so many resources already being spent on contacts, it stings to discover that some contacts are invalid.
To illustrate, If a marketing program costs $10,000 and produces 233 leads, then the cost-per-lead (CPL) is $43, the national B2B average. But, if only 75% of the contacts have usable phone numbers, the CPL suddenly jumps to $57.
Identify Disconnected Phone Numbers and Cut Data Quality Attrition
It’s estimated that only 75% of phone contact data stored by businesses is accurate at entry. Marketers see this all the time with lead capture forms. A visitor only signing up to gain access to a free feature may give a fake number. At the same time, contact information scraped from online sources can be inaccurate or outdated.
Over time, your contact data’s accuracy decreases as people switch jobs and change phone lines. So, even if your database was pristine at the outset, it will gradually become less accurate.
What’s the cost of this attrition?
The famous “1-10-100 Rule” compares the costs of prevention, correction, and failure. Applied to contact data, the rule tells us the following:
(1) Prevention Cost
Prevention costs the least. The cheapest, most efficient solution is to Identify disconnected phone numbers at the point of entry using a validation solution. The best solutions silently ping phone numbers in real-time to ensure they’re connected before they can be added to a database. They can be added directly to web forms to validate submissions. Gathering accurate information is important because there’s no guarantee that this person will visit your site again.
(10) Correction Cost
It’s better late than never. If data was not initially validated, businesses can still have their data scrubbed and de-duped in bulk. For instance, a company may want to do this when migrating its data to a new CRM. Contacts originally counted as leads can be invalidated during this process, but the company will benefit from improved data quality.
(100) Failure Cost
In this scenario, no action is taken to address data quality. This is the most costly because contacts are lost to attrition. These contacts represent missed sales opportunities.
To Improve your data quality in the most efficient way possible, adopt a validation solution at the point of entry, such as on your web forms. Instead of the usual 75% accuracy, these services have been shown to achieve up to 98% accuracy. The upfront cost will save you money in the long run. If you’re dealing with flawed existing data, you’re better off correcting it as a batch rather than letting it decay further.
Gather Intelligence About Your Contacts
Avoid Legal Pitfalls
If your business relies on phone number data, having accurate numbers is the bare minimum. Beyond that, phone number validation services can help you gain a competitive edge by providing more information about the numbers in your database.
Most notably, you can see whether you’re contacting someone on a mobile or landline. This determines whether you can communicate via SMS and gives context when preparing for a call. For instance, is this person answering from an office, or will it be more informal? Additionally, you can see the phone carrier they’re registered with and whether they’re associated with spam or fraud. It’s also often possible to see the contact’s Caller ID information.
Whether you’re working in marketing, sales, customer service, or another field that centers around calling, having this added information can help you approach a call with more intelligence than a simple raw number.
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) governs how telemarketers can operate. It restricts automatic dialing and requires that callers abide by the “do-not-call” (DNC) list. As of 2013, businesses will be fined for auto-dialing or auto-texting mobile phone numbers without written permission.
Fines range from $500 to $1500 per call or text, adding up dizzyingly fast for large companies with thousands or even millions of contacts. These aren’t just hollow threats; ask companies like Time Warner Cable, Guess, and Yahoo, all of which have been hit by expensive class-action lawsuits citing the TCPA (Yahoo’s covers 500,000 customers).
The burden of proof sits with the telemarketers, who must show that the recipient actively consented to be contacted. Organizations can protect themselves against potential legal trouble by requiring opt-ins for SMS/voice communication and by using a service that verifies their contact data by performing a do-not-call list check against DNC and known litigator lists.
Be more confident in your data.
If your business depends on phone data for daily operations, then ensuring the quality of that data should be a priority. You’ll be able to eliminate invalid numbers, protect yourself legally, and learn more about who you’re calling before you dial. A phone validation service will improve your confidence in the data that fuels your business.