Increase Mobile App Engagement with Number Lookup

Go beyond just making sure the number is right

Every year millions of users unsuccessfully try to verify their app or service accounts with a number that can’t receive SMS (e.g. a landline or an inactive number). Companies lose those customers and the customers just lose. Mobile number verification improves mobile communication effectiveness, delivers higher conversion rates, and improves customer relationships. If your messaging provider doesn’t offer phone number lookup/verification, you could be missing out on thousands of potential customers.

What does number lookup do?

Most SMS systems provide basic logic that validates whether the number the user entered will be a valid number for a particular country. For example, in North America we use an area code plus a seven digit number as phone numbers, like 604-566-9031 (Infobip’s North American Headquarters), if the user enters fewer than 10 digits, it’s not a valid number. If the user enters more than 10 digits, not valid. This test can also help restrict entries to particular regions or help pre-fill out forms with the country, province, or state. That’s just basic logic, but true number lookup takes this process further to test what kind of number it is. SMS providers leverage published databases of numbers and network tests to determine if a number is active and if it is a mobile number or landline.

True phone number lookup verifies phone numbers in real time. When a user enters a phone number, the system checks if it’s a mobile number or a landline and can suggest the user enter a different phone number. Apps can even gray out the “next” box until the user enters a valid mobile number. A simple step that helps reduce mistakes and frustration.

Mobile Number Lookup goes beyond just verifying new users, verified numbers can be used to test if a customer’s phone is on or if it’s roaming, but the first step is making sure the phone number is the number you’re looking for.

Number Lookup Boosts Verification Rates

Snapchat, WhatsApp, and Facebook rely on phone number lookup to verify and authenticate new users. These apps need to make sure new accounts are connected to real people—and real people using smartphones. One of the best ways to confirm users, verify the number, and confirm a device is sending an SMS to a mobile phone number. Because number verification is one of the first interactions a user has with a company, it’s critical that it works smoothly. But the process also relies on the user—the customer must enter a phone number that is capable of receiving an SMS (i.e. a smartphone for apps, feature phone for other uses).

In a surprisingly high number of cases, customers enter a phone number that can’t receive texts. Maybe it’s just a wrong number, an expired number, their landline, or a VoIP number—none of which can receive an SMS or use messaging apps—and the verification process grinds to a halt. How big is this problem? Research by the Ponemon Institute indicates that 11% to 20% of One-Time Passwords sent via SMS fail to deliver, and of those failures, nearly 50% are due to invalid mobile numbers provided by end users. The rate of landline/mobile number confusion varies by region with the highest being in Mexico and India.

Regardless of the why, entering a wrong number means the person isn’t verified, can’t use the app, won’t become a customer, and is probably frustrated as well. For startups in growth mode, this wastes customer acquisition investment and increases per-user costs. Not to mention damage done to the brand and potential future users. While the problem might be caused by the user, the solution is up to the brand.

Many apps and services offer a multi-channel solution for verification, in case SMS is unable to complete the process. For example, some apps offer failover functionality to verify using a secondary SMS provider, an interactive voice response (IVR) system (either automatically or at the user’s request via a “Call Me” option), or push messaging.

Verification Issue Number Lookup Solution Is it a valid phone number? Number for check based on country or region Is the number in a supported region? If a valid number for a region, then check if it supports 2-Way SMS and other services Is it a mobile number? Use operator lists, test message, and fail-over to voice if needed

Mobile Number Lookup is usually a one time check, a short step the first time a customer interacts with an app or service, but the benefits for customer engagement, marketing, and support continue for the life of the customer relationship.

Get Verification Right To Maximize Customer Relationships

For a new app with an explosive growth rate, even a small rate of wrong numbers could translate into millions of failed verifications and lost users. Making verification more effective helps companies confirm users are who they say they are. Verified users are easier to reach, easier to support, and offer a sense of security on the app or service. Verified mobile numbers are essential to SMS-based 2-factor authentication (2FA) solutions for security, activations, or account validation. With effective mobile number lookup, companies enterprises can maximize conversion rates and support users with the best possible verification experience.

Verified users are valuable users.

Jun 21st, 2016
4 min read