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Data Decay: Why it’s Important to Keep Mobile Numbers Updated

When your database has thousands of numbers, being cost-effective and accurate with your messaging becomes tricky.

January 11 2017

In today’s world mobile phone numbers are a key identifier, used by over 60% of the global population. Knowing the right mobile numbers vastly improves delivery rates and ensures you're engaging the person you're targeting with your messages. To fully utilize this it is imperative that mobile number validation is done on a regular basis.

As time goes by data is becoming wrong and a portion of the mobile contact numbers you have will become what is known as dead, inaccurate, invalid, unused, inactive, deactivated etc. mobile numbers. Trying to send an SMS to these numbers will result in error or undelivered codes and deliver a serious blow to your CRM information.

Decay of mobile numbers and its impact on your database

The main reason behind creating the Number Lookup solution was to offer a simple way to quickly clean and validate large mobile number databases. Large mobile number databases are prone to failure and mistakes with entire industries dedicated to keeping your contact information intact such as data backups, cloud backups, data recovery and many more.

While these protect and safeguard against a lot of potential problems, data decay and degradation does not occur solely due to equipment failure and the lack of a good backup system.

Along with mechanical decay like hard drive failures, there is also logical decay; a term used to describe data becoming outdated due to numerous reasons involving human behavior.

With the passing of time all information becomes old, encyclopedias for example no longer contain accurate information the minute they’re printed.

Same goes for contact information. When dealing with large quantities of data this happens daily and goes almost unnoticed but a drop here and a drop there leads to a waterfall and time creates what is called bad, dirty or stale data.

The reasons why are many and when you stop to think about it they come flooding in. Some people like to change phone numbers (not everyone loves to keep the same mobile phone number), some decide not to port their number when switching from operator to operator and looking for the best deal, some have multiple SIM cards and only use some when they need to (making their number unreachable for days), people move, people pass away, people even give out fake numbers…

A phone number change here and there means nothing. But when you have thousands of mobile numbers stored in your database, being both cost-effective and accurate with your messaging becomes tricky.

What about mobile numbers in large-scale business databases?

In the end, the person you're trying to reach is a real person; all of the above mentioned facts of life apply to them. The problem, however, is that contact data can change even faster when dealing with B2B contact information.

Every day companies close, people get fired or quit and people find new jobs. When this happens people don't only stop using their old company e-mail address, they also stop using their company mobile phone. How many people you know only use their professional company phone? A lot of people do and having to stop using their old number can be a nightmare for them and a database problem for you.

In the United States for example, the average number of years a worker has been with their current employer was 4.2 years in 2016, showing a significant drop when compared to the average of 4.6 years in 2014.

Just how bad can it get?

Bad contact data has a multiple effect on business making you not only lose precious resources reaching out to invalid mobile phone numbers but also wasting time which could have been spent otherwise. It can also have a serious impact on proper decision making and planning for your organization as not optimizing your contact information gives you a false perspective of the contacts you're working with.

While individual user behavior cannot be precisely predicted and the reasons people change their contact data can be as many as the changes themselves, statistic shows us that all contact data goes through the inevitable data decay.

It is nearly impossible to pinpoint the exact percentage of contact changes that occur during a single year, even in industries and countries that provide all of the necessary data needed to calculate the data decay. However, most of the research out there that has tried to tackle this problem made by various marketing companies shows losses of around 20% per year, just google contact data decay rate.

In Q3 alone, according to GSMA Intelligence there have been over 4 million disconnections in the United Kingdom, nearly 20 million in the United States and almost 110 million in India. While according to Tech in Asia’s calculations and research into the Singapore market, 2% of the population in Singapore might be getting new mobile subscriptions on a monthly basis.

This means that if you haven’t been cleaning your contact database, you may have an outdated mobile contacts list. Over a span of just a few years the number of inaccurate mobile numbers in a growing database could be, according to research, anywhere between 10 and 40% (depending on the market in question). These invalid numbers will weigh heavy on your budget without making any real impact!

So what can you do?

As the 1-10-100 rule suggests, it is better to prevent and cut costs than to wait for serious problems to arise and have to deal with failure.

Number Lookup, also known as HLR (Home Location Register) Lookup is a versatile telecommunications service developed in house that lets you check the status and validity of mobile numbers and the country or mobile network they are associated with. Along with this it can also provide portability and roaming information.

One of our Number Lookup packages is designed specifically to help you tackle the problem of data decay, or like some call it database rust. The Database Cleaning package was designed for companies with large databases to enable identifying unused and inactive numbers to reduce costs and save resources.

Infobip's worldwide coverage, partnerships and local presence allow us to perform mobile number validation with our Number Lookup in over 200 countries and territories around the world, making us the ideal provider of global HLR lookup.

 

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