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Data inaccuracy issues raised by inactive phone number stats

25th Nov 2014
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New statistics from Data Central, a data validation specialist, have revealed that around one million of the UK’s estimated 120 million phone numbers are being made inactive every month.

The research has also highlights that UK adults now have an average of six telephone numbers each, covering mobile, landline and work numbers.

The statistics raise questions about the potential inaccuracy of many businesses’ customer data, especially in terms of mobile phone numbers, where the largest proportion of number deletion occurs.

And the role of SMS messaging as part of the marketing mix may be called into question, with one in twelve phone numbers now being made invalid each month.  

With more than six billion global users and revenues of around $135 billion each year, SMS messaging has provided marketers with an industry standard messaging channel for over a decade.

Coupled with the rise of ‘OTT’ mobile applications like iMessage and WhatsApp, as well as a mobile advertising industry that has grown 148% year-on-year, the importance of mobile phone number data validity has increased exponentially.  

However, Data Central’s research suggests phone number data accuracy is commonly as low as 30% in most business customer data sets. And as Steve Fenton, CEO of Data Central states, this has often led to occasionally unsavoury practices in order to determine validity:   

“Validation of mobile and landline numbers in the past has meant actual calls being made and then abandoned, causing major concern amongst both the general population and regulatory bodies. Amendments to the Communications Act have helped regulate this activity, but the damage to public perception has already been done.

“In effect, all companies to some extent rely on invalid data because of the speed at which data now degrades and becomes invalid – it’s our job to try and provide the most accurate data available.”

The UK Government is in the middle of a crackdown on unsolicited marketing phone calls, making data validity all the more important.

Culture secretary, Sajid Javid recently announced plans to lower the legal threshold for fining companies responsible for nuisance telephone calls and text messages.

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