You should be implementing phone number validation if you use or plan to use SMS messaging to communicate with your customers. You not only have to make sure you have accurate numbers, but you should know other identifiers as well.
How many of the customer numbers in your database are landlines or VoIP numbers that can’t receive SMS messages? How many numbers in your database are on the Do-Not-Call (DNC) list? Who is the carrier for each phone number?
You can get all of this information and more from a phone number validation tool. In this article, we’ll go into detail about how phone number validation works, how you can use it to improve your SMS delivery, and in turn how you can strengthen that line of communication with your customers.
What is SMS Delivery?
SMS delivery refers to the rate SMS messages get delivered. SMS, or short message service, is more commonly known as text message. The only differences between an SMS message and a text message is that SMS is text only, no pictures or videos, and is limited to 160 characters.
SMS marketing has been adopted by a number of companies due to its 98% open rate. With engagement this high, it’s no wonder companies have created SMS marketing campaigns if not instead of phone calls and email at least in addition to them.
However, in order for SMS marketing to succeed (or to have a high SMS delivery rate), you have to have good customer cell phone data. Phone number validation can help.
What is Phone Number Validation?
In short, phone number validation allows you to enter a phone number to see whether or not it is an active number. This is helpful if you’ve got customer phone numbers in your database that are mistyped or are fake.
You can use validation error messages to prevent typos on your webforms, but you definitely want to catch and weed out fake numbers that customers enter. Customers provide fake numbers to avoid receiving sales calls, to protect their privacy, or because they have security concerns.
Others might enter temporary numbers that are abandoned or changed shortly after. The only way for you to know whether a number is fake or has become inactive is to run your list through phone number validation.
In addition to the status of the number, you can also get the line type (cell, landline, VoIP), the phone carrier, and a DNC list check. Here’s how each helps you improve your SMS delivery:
The status of a phone number tells you whether it is active or disconnected. You want to know if a phone number is reachable before spending your resources trying to contact it.
This also lets you know if a phone number is valid or not. For example, if a number has too many, too few, or an incorrect combination of digits (such as wrong country code) it is an invalid number.
Some of these numbers can be identified as invalid just by looking at them. If someone enters a phone number with a 555 prefix, you know it’s a fake phone number because those numbers are reserved for use in the entertainment industry.
You can also just try calling it to see if it is reachable. However, the issue with that is unnecessarily wasting resources and potentially calling a number on the DNC list.
DNC List Check
Consumers can register their phone numbers on the DNC list. This was designed to protect consumers against unwanted sales calls. It is a violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) regulations to call a number that has opted out of receiving sales calls.
If you have a webform where phone number is a required field, there’s a good chance you could get submissions that are registered. You cannot assume that all of the phone numbers in your database are safe to call.
Phone number validation can identify numbers that should not be called for sales purposes. This will save you millions of dollars in fines.
Identifying line type is important when planning your marketing campaigns. For example, if you plan on running an SMS campaign, you don’t want to waste resources sending to landlines or VoIP numbers that won’t be able to receive them.
Additionally, you can use the line type to improve your customer authentication process. By texting a one-time passcode to cell phone numbers or placing a voice call to a landline, you can verify that your customers are who they say they are before allowing account access or disclosing sensitive information.
Knowing the phone carrier of a phone number is helpful for improving SMS marketing campaigns. Cell phone numbers are owned by the phone carrier, not by the user. So knowing who the carrier is makes SMS delivery quicker and more successful for businesses sending messages in bulk.
Since SMS business campaigns likely won’t be sent from your personal number, you’ll send messages to your customers from either a short code, toll free number, or 10DLC number. The software you use to send these messages will need to know the carriers of the cell phone numbers in order to properly route the messages.
So if phone number validation can provide all of that information, where do you start? Well, you have a few options.
3 Ways to Validate Phone Numbers
1. Phone Validator
To use a phone validator, simply enter the US or Canadian number in question. The results include line type, carrier, DNC list check, and reachability. You can also get location information such as time zone, area code, and map.
Location information is useful if you want to personalize your campaigns based on specific regions. Or, if you want to send your messages out at the times when your customers are the most active, the time zone is helpful so that you don’t send your promotions and alerts out in the middle of the night!
If you have a large list of customer numbers, though, instead of checking them one by one with the validator, you can upload the entire list to be checked using a batch service.
2. Batch Phone Validator
A batch phone validator allows you to upload a list of contacts and download the results. You can customize which data you’d like returned for your use. Cost is based on the number of records you have to upload, and the cost goes down as the volume goes up!
You’ll need to use a batch phone validator at least a couple of times a year. This checks numbers that might have been active at the point of entry or when last checked, but have changed over time. If customers register their phone numbers on the DNC list after submitting your form, for example, you need to know about it. So check your existing data regularly.
The individual and batch phone validators are great tools for numbers you already have in your database, but if you want certain information as the numbers come in then you need an API.
3. Phone Validator API
The phone validator API verifies phone numbers in real time for sending text messages. So as your web forms are submitted by users, they are verified at the point of entry and immediately ready for your use.
Use the phone validator API to instantly identify phone number line type and carrier as well as find out if phone numbers have been ported to new carriers, if they’re active or have been disconnected, and if they’re on the DNC list.
What Happens without Phone Number Validation?
If you fail to validate your customer phone numbers, there are some potentially negative consequences.
First of all, if you don’t identify the carrier of the numbers on your list, your delivery will suffer if the software you use cannot route the message properly.
Second of all, if you just send bulk SMS messages to all of the numbers in your database without identifying the line type, only those customers who provided active cell phone numbers are going to receive them. So not only will you be overlooking a large portion of your customer-base, you will also be wasting resources sending messages to numbers that won’t receive them.
Third, you cannot call numbers that are registered on the DNC list without risking hefty fines. So you need to know which numbers on your list are safe to call for marketing and sales purposes before you begin your campaign.
Similarly, you should not text numbers registered on the DNC list either since cell phone numbers as well as landlines are covered under TCPA guidelines. You also need to get your customers’ consent to send them SMS messages. You could face TCPA fines per number if you don’t receive customer consent or don’t honor an opt out of SMS messaging.
Failure to understand and properly categorize your data not only hurts your marketing efforts, but it can be expensive too! So save yourself some time, money, and energy by validating your customer phone data.
How Phone Number Validation Improves SMS Delivery
Phone number validation improves SMS delivery by ensuring that only valid cell phone numbers are sent SMS campaigns. Once you are confident that you have your customer data organized in this way, you can rest assured that you won’t be wasting time and money sending messages to invalid numbers, landlines, or numbers that have opted out of receiving sales messages.
Additionally, phone number validation provides the name of the carrier for each cell phone number so that your SMS messaging software can properly route each message quickly and correctly. Without phone number validation you’d be sending more messages than are actually received and this can be a costly waste of resources not to mention the fines you risk incurring.
Do yourself and your customers a favor and make your data more meaningful. Your effort in understanding your customer data and using it the most effectively will show up in your marketing campaigns and you’ll be more successful as a business owner.
Are you interested in learning more about improving the value of your customer data? Try Searchbug’s phone validator today!