- March 4, 2011
- Posted by: Seth Heyman
- Categories: Marketing & Advertising Law, Regulatory Compliance
Lead generation companies, list marketers, and co-reg companies take note: verifying the accuracy of consumer data is not only smart, it’s also essential way to protect yourself from legal trouble.
Why Data Verification is Smart
Whether you’re in the business of selling data, leads, or products, verifying the accuracy of consumer contact data directly impacts ROI. Inaccurate data causes everyone in the chain of commerce to lose tremendous amounts of time and money.
In the case of list marketers and co-reg companies, data is a product in and of itself. If you have bad data, you’re selling a bad product. A butcher shop that sells tainted meat won’t stay open very long, and neither will you.
In the case of lead gen companies, when a “lead” is generated from bad data, it’s not really a lead at all. Lead buyers wind up with dead numbers, bad e-mail addresses, and consumers who have no idea how they got on whatever list they’re on. Clearly, reaching out to non-existent leads erodes ROI and a gen company selling non-existent leads is not likely to thrive.
And then there’s the most important element in the chain of commerce: the consumer. Bad data results in unwelcome solicitations, intrusive phone calls, and annoying texts, along with sore throats from constantly shouting at hapless salespeople.
Clearly then, bad data is bad business. The problem is, bad data is usually cheap data, and plenty of companies are willing to roll the dice and take a shot at exploiting it. When a record costs a small fraction of a penny, the numbers may play out. However, there are hidden costs to bad data.
Verifying Data is a Critical Aspect of any Compliance Program
With online marketing practices becoming increasingly sophisticated, data privacy has become a hot-button issue for regulators. The CAN-SPAM Act and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) already require some form of consumer consent in order to conduct an e-mail or telemarketing campaign, and the FTC is considering the implementation of a “Do-Not-Track” program to hinder online behavioral marketing, along with further restrictions on outbound dialing.
Case in Point: Telemarketing (which includes SMS text-based advertising) is subject to the Do-Not-Call provisions of the Telemarketing Sales Rule, along with those imposed by state DNC registry acts. To legally solicit consumers using pre-recorded voice messaging, callers must have the signed, written consent of the person called. The required consent can be obtained through a website visit; but the language granting the consent must be worded clearly, and placed where a consumer is likely to see it. Even if the consent language is properly placed and worded, it only applies to the specific entity named in the language, and does not extend to “trusted partners and affiliates.”
These hoops that marketers have to jump through make data verification especially critical. Compliance with these draconian regulations is expensive, but consider the fact that consumers often input the wrong information, whether by mistake or design. One digit off, and the marketing company that spent so much to comply is still calling the wrong consumer. With potential fines as high as $16,000 per call, no one can afford to make mistakes. Companies that take the extra bit of effort (and yes, expense) to verify the accuracy of their opt-in data will wind up saving thousands of dollars in potential fines and penalties, while those that don’t will wind up on the ash-heap of marketing history.
There are many ways to verify the accuracy of opt-in data. One product that works remarkably well is FireVerify, which places a real-time automated verification call to consumers immediately after they input their contact data on a registration form. Using a product like FireVerify virtually assures data accuracy.
Naturally, although it may be accurate when first submitted, data doesn’t age gracefully, and accuracy will diminish as the record gets older. However, the fact that a company undertook the crucial step of truly verifying the information at the time it was submitted will go a long way towards limiting the legal ramifications of future errors.
Data verification is smart, sensible, and vital to long term success. Going the extra mile to cross-match, append, and make a confirmation call is a smart business decision that will pay off in the long run.