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American consumers really hate robocalls. The FCC says automated calls are the number one source of their complaints.

However, that doesn’t change that it’s now legal for U.S. government agencies – including Congress – to use automated dialers to hit up your cell phone for official business. In fact, one of the groups that recently got a favorable ruling from the FCC on this issue provides tele-town hall services to Congress.

From Consumerist’s report on the robocall ruling:

“We emphasize that … a call placed by a third-party agent will be immune from TCPA liability only where the call was placed pursuant to authority that was ‘validly conferred’ by the federal government, and the third party complied with the government’s instructions and otherwise acted within the scope of his or her agency, in accord with federal common-law principles of agency,” reads the ruling.

That means that while survey contractors and town hall vendors can now broadly use cell phone numbers on behalf of the federal government without fear, they’re still off-limits for, say, political campaign robocalls.

Town halls and accurate government surveys depend on reaching Americans by phone – and more than half have abandoned their landlines for cell-only, according to CDC research on mobile phone trends released last year.

Robocalls to cell phones aren’t just annoying, they are often grossly inefficient at reaching the right party. New laws allow creditors to call people who own a number even if they’re not the right party, which protects the vendors but not you and I from unwanted calls. Unlike the Verizon directory for landline directory assistance, there’s no official source for ownership changes to cell phones. And the richest data source – consumer credit card application data – is off-limits to the federal government for town hall and survey purposes (while it is available for debt collection).

That leaves agencies and vendors still scrambling to assemble the best possible phone lists from data append specialists that rely on consumer opt-in information.

It’s been just a few months since the FCC opened cell numbers to increased access by robo dialing. How long before there’s a more reliable way to reach the right parties?

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Whether you’re running a marketing campaign, or a political campaign, data integrity and completeness is essential. I work for, and buy product from, phone append vendor Accurate Append because they’ve been leaders in data quality for decades. Data quality isn’t just having access to many sources – it requires innovative approaches to merging that data and good judgement in what to keep and what to throw away.

Data quality is a big problem for political campaigns. Poor data quality mars polling, stops folks from voting, and results in multiple records for each one of use in different databases in different regions, states and on different companies’ servers. Here’s where the highest quality data comes in handy:

Get more of your mail delivered. While you can often trust Gmail addresses as valid, records from voter files change – and emails addresses don’t change in sync with physical addresses. Good data hygiene reduces email bounces and improves your sender reputation with ISPs.

Email matching for your tech program. Accurate email addresses are critical to building strong custom Facebook audiences, reducing advertising costs. For political campaigns, they also increase matches with services like VoterCircle, which you can use to enlist supporters in peer-to-peer canvassing.

Reach more supporters with accurate cell phone numbers. Open rates for texting are a magnitude higher than open rates for email. Instant lead validation on entry for all of your forms (possible with Accurate Append’s Gravity Forms OSDI WordPress plugin) makes sure you have the right numbers for texting, and line typing ensures you’re differentiating between contact methods for home, work and mobile numbers. You’ll appreciate accurate phones at every step of your operation – there’s nothing that discourages volunteers or lead gen staff faster than wrong numbers.

Save on your mailing costs: Mailings can run as high as $1 each – that means bad addresses can cost hundreds or thousands in wasted mailings, and a heck of a lot of waste. Consumer and postal mail updates mean more of your targeted mail reaches the bullseye.

To use Accurate Append efficiently, remember my tip to first remove the Gmail addresses – until some other email service eclipses the efficacy of Google’s service, those are going to be golden and don’t need much cleaning or updating. If you need phone numbers beyond the U.S., Accurate Append offers Canadian phone append. Another way to save is to narrow your target universe before sending over your file – don’t waste time or money with an unwieldy file. Remember to source complete data that allows you to reach your supporters on the most reliable channels – email, phone, doors. You can also narrow your outreach by adding donor histories and donor models to your contacts as a custom service from Accurate Append. And if you’re trying to register new voters, try their consumer file filtering to identify likely unregistered, eligible adults.

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