Saab Uses Address Validation on Web Leads

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Though Saab Cars USA had collected consumer prospect data through its Web site for years, the automaker this month began validating those leads with the use of a service from data solution provider Melissa Data.

At Saab's Web site, consumers have the option of ordering a brochure for more information about Saab cars or requesting a quote on a specific Saab model. Both of these actions require consumers to enter their name and postal address and give the option to provide a telephone number and e-mail address at the Web site.

Since it is costly to Saab to send its full-color brochures and because dealers' time is valuable, the firm decided that validating the information provided by consumers would be useful, said Richard Amling, direct marketing analyst in the CRM Group at Saab Cars USA, Norcross, GA.

Saab had used no data verification services in the past.

"We had never used anything before, but we researched it and liked that the Melissa Data product worked in real time," he said.

The Web-based product, Data Quality Web Service, verifies that a real address has been provided, validates the information in the address such as street name and ZIP code, standardizes the address format to U.S. Postal Service specifications and adds ZIP+4 for faster delivery.

"The addresses come in and they are matched against the official U.S. Postal Service database of addresses in real time," said Jack Schember, marketing manager at Melissa Data, Rancho Santa Margarita, CA. "The service also parses names according to gender, first name, last name, prefix and suffix and detects vulgar words."

If the system does not validate an address, Saab sends the consumer an e-mail explaining that and telling him to contact its call center if he is still interested. If an address is validated for a brochure request, the brochure is sent and Saab follows up with an e-mail.

"We will send them current deal information, and based on how and if they click they may or may not get more follow-up e-mails," Amling said.

However, the names of consumers requesting automobile quotes are passed along to the dealer that was specified by the consumer.

"Somebody who is requesting a quote gets contacted because they are considered to be a pretty hot lead," Amling said. "If you are at the point in the vehicle shopping process that you want to know exactly how much it costs, you are close to a decision."

Of the fewer than 10,000 brochures and 5,000 quotes requested monthly at the Saab Web site, Amling estimated that less than 5 percent of the addresses provided were inaccurate or false. Still, Melissa Data's service is worth the cost, he said.

"It's really inexpensive for what we get," he said. "We are pleased with the way it works. It's improved our perception with our dealer community that the leads we provide them with are better."

Schember said the price for a one-year license to use Data Quality Web Service ranges from $2,900 to $8,900 based on volume.

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