International Contact Data Hygiene Services

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Frequently Asked Questions

Some of the most Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) we receive are answered below. Please contact us with any additional questions you may have.

What do U.S. businesses need to do to prepare for Privacy Shield?

First, U.S. businesses should identify what data they receive or collect from EU countries. Including data, which is:

  • Transferred to the U.S. within a group of companies
  • Acquired from third party organizations (list brokers) based in the EU and/or in the US
  • Collected in the US from individuals using a device in EU country or through the use of cookies or
  • Stored on servers located in the EU but which can be accessed by people in the US.

Second, US businesses need to understand the basis on which they are receiving or collecting that data i.e. is it being transferred to the US in accordance with the appropriate Data Protection Authority (DPA)? If the data is being transferred in accordance with either the model clauses (issued by the EU Commission) or binding corporate rules, these will continue to be valid for the time being. If the data is currently being transferred either pursuant to the Safe Harbor exemption or without any of these safeguards, then there is a potential breach of the DPA. In this situation, the organizations involved in the transfer will need to consider the alternative options for dealing with the data, (Commission approved standard contract clauses).

Third, U.S. businesses should begin an in depth review of the 7 Main and 16 Supplemental principals of the Privacy Shield Framework, as well as a review of their current data policies and procedures for compliance. (Updating where needed)

Fourth, U.S. businesses should actively monitor additional privacy developments in the EU, including the recently approved General Data Privacy Regulations (GDPR), which is setting a trend for increased requirements on the collection, use and retention of personal information of EU based individuals.

My domestic service bureau is having difficulty handling my international mailings, what makes international data processing different?

International direct marketing data processing is a completely different business than U.S. domestic data processing. This is due to the complex nature of international data, caused by differences in address formats and data structure from country to country, as well as differences in language, writing system, culture, politics, economics, and infrastructure, among many other factors. For example, where address standardization is important in order to help ensure mail delivery in one country, it is absolutely critical in order to obtain a postal presort discount in another country. International addresses tend to contain more and longer address lines than addresses in the United States, and require computer systems, knowledge and expertise specific to international data in order to correctly manage this type of data.

The development of computer systems and software capable of handling complex international databases requires many years of research and development, and a high degree of technical knowledge and expertise regarding international data and global markets. Global-Z is a pioneer and recognized leader in the international data processing business, and we have been developing and improving international data processing technology for more than 20 years.

Whether you choose Global-Z or another highly qualified service provider, if you’re serious about growing your international business, we strongly recommend the use of a service bureau with specific expertise in international data and data management.

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What should I be looking for in an international service bureau?

Very few service bureaus are able to accurately and effectively manage international marketing data. International data is much more complex than U.S. data, and requires specialized computer systems as well as a high degree of knowledge and expertise in managing this type of data. At the very least, if you are marketing internationally it is strongly recommended that you work with a service bureau that has substantial international data management experience.

When looking for an international service bureau, here are a few important questions to ask potential suppliers to assess their level of international expertise:

  • How many years has the bureau been managing international data? Managing international data takes a huge investment in research, development, and training time and dollars. If the bureau is relatively new to international data processing, consider a bureau with more experience.
  • What percentage of the bureau’s clients market internationally vs. exclusively to a single market. If the large majority of the bureau’s clients market to a single country, whether to the US or any other single market, they are most likely a domestic service bureau trying their hand at the international market. Be careful when putting your marketing campaigns in the hands of a bureau that will be learning at your expense.
  • What specific technology does the bureau use for their data processing applications, such as third-party software versus customized systems? While some high quality international software products are beginning to emerge on the market, most out-of-the-box software is incapable of handling the complexities and rapid pace of change in the international data management world. Domestic software suppliers are often not the best choice for international data management solutions. Also, while a few service bureaus have internally developed extremely high-end solutions, keep in mind that it takes many years of research, development and market experience in order to build best-of-breed solutions. Be sure that your international bureau’s technology is mature and market-tested.

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What makes Global-Z different from other international service bureaus?

Global-Z has 25 years of international data processing experience. Global-Z was the first service bureau in the marketplace to develop global international addressing systems, and has pioneered the global data processing industry. Our clients include many of the industry’s largest and most successful global marketing firms in catalog, retail, publishing, high-tech, financial services, education, and many other segments, including Business-to-Business (B2B) and Business-to-Consumer (B2C) marketers.

Global-Z began its history in software development, and as such has developed a strong culture of technical excellence and the ability to respond extremely quickly to new client demands with new services and new product ideas. We employ a full time research and development staff who are experts in the technical, geographical, linguistic, political and cultural issues of each country. We rely heavily on feedback, input and ideas from our clients in order to ensure that our research and development efforts are most closely focused on the ever-evolving needs of our clients.

While we pride ourselves on our strong commitment to being first to market with new products and services as well as leading the market in the most effective technology solutions available, we are also leaders in customer service and rapid turnaround times. We have extremely high customer satisfaction rates and the large majority of our client relationships are long-term, mutually beneficial partnerships. We operate best in an environment where both the client and supplier have a strong level of trust and communication, utilizing collaborative problem-solving and idea generation to find the best fit of solutions for our clients. We have developed a business model that focuses first and foremost on the welfare of our employees and our customers.

If you are looking for an international service bureau, we would welcome the opportunity for you to test our services, so that you can evaluate for yourself the level of technical excellence and the strong level of customer service that you can expect from us ongoing.

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There are a number of international data quality software products on the market, what is the advantage of working with a bureau like Global-Z?

While a small handful of excellent third-party software products have recently entered the market, these products are costly and require a high degree of international expertise in order to use effectively. In addition, because of the high degree of international expertise required to develop such systems, some third-party software products are in fact nothing more than integrations of local or regional systems acquired from a disparate group of companies or software developers. While several of the best enterprise-level software products currently on the market are a good fit for certain applications, the cost of licensing, maintenance and operation of these large-scale systems must be weighed against the benefits.

For many applications Global-Z can offer a number of significant advantages over licensing third-party applications:

  • Our address processing technology is developed internally by a team of content experts and software developers. As a result, all of the expertise and experience required to develop, maintain and enhance these extremely complex systems is consolidated in a centralized source of expert skills and knowledge.
  • Global-Z provides a low risk of market entry, compared to the high initial investment cost of licensing an enterprise-level system.
  • Global-Z provides a high degree of predictability and stability in the cost per transaction processed, through our volume-based pricing structure. Since processing costs are based on transaction volumes, budgeting for data processing services can be easily aligned with marketing volumes and associated investment returns.
  • Global-Z’s internal software development capabilities allow us to be highly responsive to changing market needs. Our new product development is strongly focused on the evolving needs of our existing client base. We can provide customization capabilities for the most demanding applications, and our development times and speed to market are far beyond what third party software providers can meet.
  • For the rapid turnaround requirements of the most performance-sensitive applications, Global-Z provides real-time processing services at a highly competitive cost. Our real-time systems support automated batch processing via Internet file transfer, as well as automated record-by-record processing using our RealTime™ API Enhanced Global Address Cleansing service.

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I’m not getting any undeliverable mail back from my international campaigns, does that mean that 100% of my mail is being delivered?

Not necessarily, this will depend largely on how you are distributing your international mail. Most local countries’ postal administrations will not return undeliverable third-class mail originating outside of their own country, therefore a local post office box is often necessary in order to ensure that undeliverable mail is being returned. This is not always possible when mailing globally. Some global consolidation services are available that provide mailers with the option to have their undeliverable mail returned, however it is important to discuss this requirement with your international mail distribution provider prior to posting your mail. Global-Z partners with a network of extremely knowledgeable international mail distribution suppliers, and please Contact Us if you would like us to refer you to these service providers if you have such a need.

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My prospect lists are already clean, and the list owners guarantee a high delivery rate. Why should I have my lists processed through address cleansing?

While data quality management issues are a constant challenge for many international list owners, many international prospect lists on the market are of extremely high data quality. Using an up-to-date best of breed address hygiene solution can still have significant benefits in addition to improving marketing image and ensuring high delivery rates. In particular, most merge/purge duplicate identification processes perform best when working with data that has not only been cleaned and standardized, but has also been highly parsed into its various discrete address components, including street name and type, building number, apartment, floor, locality, district, province, postal code, etc. Since most list owners’ marketing databases are not capable of storing these discrete address components, the address hygiene process is extremely effective at identifying and parsing these components, particularly in lists that are already of high data quality. Testing has shown that the duplicate identification process significantly benefits from a high quality data standardization and parsing process, substantially improving the accuracy and cost-benefit of the de-duplication process.

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What can I do to improve the quality of my international data capture procedures, before the data goes into my database?

The concept of Quality at the Source has been used very successfully by a wide variety of manufacturing operations striving to improve quality throughout business processes. Moving quality assessment and improvement processes to the front end of any business process is an excellent way to gain substantial improvements in quality. By assessing and improving data quality before the data is captured and stored in a database, marketers can ensure that they are benefiting from the highest quality data possible. Following are some data capture practices that can help improve data quality at the front end:

  • Evaluate data capture practices and train data capture personnel to understand the details of international address formats. Marketers who have been the most successful in improving front end data quality have trained their data capture personnel to become content experts in data from at least their major international markets. A number of resources exist that can assist with this effort, and we would be happy to recommend some of these tools. Please feel free to Contact Us.
  • Evaluate data capture forms, particularly forms that accept direct user input such as web forms. Consider best industry practices regarding form design, and design data quality techniques into interface development at design time, well before prototyping. For example, providing a country dropdown list with a meaningful default value on an address data capture form can greatly reduce error caused by country name misspellings, or incorrect user selection of the country due to an inappropriate or misleading default setting.
  • Involve international data content experts throughout the data capture and maintenance procedures in your organization. At Global-Z we are happy to work with our clients on recommending best practices throughout our clients’ organizations, as a value added service.
  • Be aware of the many international data encoding standards that exist, and be sure that all processes that manage data are capable of handling or converting data encodings appropriately. Much of the data corruption that we see in international databases is caused by inappropriate handling of international data encodings, a problem that is highly avoidable by using the proper data management techniques.

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What are the top 5 points/challenges to consider, common to virtually all countries, when looking into launching an international marketing campaign?

When your business is looking to launch an international marketing campaign via the postal system consider:

  1. Perception: How do you want your company and its products/services perceived? Are you a looking to be perceived as a local vendor (i.e., localized marketing), or a vendor from abroad? If you are interested in being perceived as a local marketer then you should consider making sure your mail piece is in the local language, local script, and local address formatting. Further, utilizing a local postal indicia, rather than an overseas indicia, such as what ISAL would require, will likely add to your business being perceived as local to the market into which you are mailing.
  2. Customer service: Will you offer customer service to cover time zones other than your own, as well as in languages other than your company’s usual language of operation.
  3. Payment options: many international countries are either new to consumer credit cards (e.g., China ) or they may not have them at all. What currency(ies) will your company accept and at what payment terms?
  4. Prospects: Where will you access prospect lists for the countries into which you want to market? Name acquisition in the international markets is an ongoing challenge. While this is not a service that Global-Z currently offers, please let us know what countries you are interested in and we will be happy to suggest some international list brokers that may be of assistance.
  5. Mail deliverability: Are you certain that the international addresses in your house file and rented mail lists are current? The cost to your international marketing campaign suggests that assuring the address is verifiable is important.

Of course, there are many more than 5 areas to consider. The above-noted recommendations all sum up to one point: It’s very important to do your homework when looking toward international marketing. There are many experts in the field. Ask a lot of questions. Stand on their shoulders to help you see clear over the proverbial wall of international marketing challenges! Please feel free to Contact Us to discuss your individual needs. If it is not a service we provide directly, we’ll be pleased to offer resources outside Global-Z that may be of assistance.

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Why does Global-Z specialize in international data quality?

When Global-Z began specializing in international data quality services in the late 80s we identified global address quality processing as a unique market niche that no other company was serving effectively. As a result, Global-Z focused and became the market leader in that niche.  International data processing is extremely complex and requires significant investments in research, development, and training. From day one, Global-Z’s business strategy was to focus   exclusively on international markets in order to add the greatest possible value for our clients. In 2015, we made the decision to add US data processing to our core services in order to better serve those clients with large global databases that include US data. While we continue to expand our services, for Global-Z “staying focused” means international data processing for every country in the world. US data processing now serves as a complementary extension of our primary focus- the rest of the world.

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I’m a consumer that just needs one or two addresses verified. It’s not for my business. Can Global-Z help me?

Perhaps. Global-Z’s skills and expertise are in international data processing, typically for businesses looking to have a significant volume of international business-to-business (B2B)/business-to-consumer (B2C) postal addresses processed (i.e., verified, merged/purged, standardized, cleaned, etc.), and/or real-time online record-by-record/batch processing. That “significant volume” often depends on the company size and the country(ies) into which our clients are marketing/mailing. Volume goes into the millions of records and cost considerations include minimum order sizes that bring volume down into the 100’s of records, and everything in between. If you have just one or two records to process for your personal use, please don’t hesitate to let us know your specific needs. If we cannot assist you we may be able to provide you with additional resources that can help.

If your needs are B2B or B2C related please let us know your specific issues and goals. Even if you have very low volumes of addresses to validate Global-Z’s award winning Online Global Address Standardization brings a lot of value to businesses. Our clients find it to be a very effective alternative to costly software licenses.

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What does NCOA stand for and what does it mean for my business?

NCOA is an acronym for “National Change of Address”. A number of postal authorities around the world collect change of address information from residents and businesses. When captured electronically it is made available, for those residents and businesses that have provided their consent, to licensees of this important data. Residents and businesses that have not provided their change of address consent are commonly referred to as “Nixies” and can be suppressed from the database to further enhance the marketability of your address files.

The Canadian postal authority, Canada Post, for example, collects Change of Address Notification (COAN) forms when residents and businesses move. Canadian NCOA (CNCOA) Services are valuable to you as a business marketing to or servicing current clients in Canada . NCOA service in Canada will enable you to maintain contact with your important clients and prospects. For Canada , as an authorized Canada Post Mail Service Provider, Global-Z matches your list against Canada Post’s NCOA database, and we provide you with updated address information for any matches. This ensures that your mail reaches the intended recipient, even after they have moved.

While international privacy laws and similar legislation results in each country’s NCOA practices and policies being somewhat different from the next, service bureau specializing in international NCOA services, like Global-Z, are your “foot up” on this very important data enhancement service, through knowledge, skill and experience. Not all NCOA service providers are alike. Ask a lot of questions, get references and you will find an NCOA partner upon whom your business can rely.

Some of the other countries, in addition to Canada , that have NCOA data available for your data processing needs include: Australia , Austria , Belgium , France , Germany, The Netherlands, New Zealand , Switzerland , and the United Kingdom . Please visit our International NCOA webpage for more information, or Contact Us with any questions you may have.

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What do you consider the most important elements of best practice in international mailing?

Here are some of the best practices we’ve run into over the years regarding international mailing. We see two general approaches to international market expansion. The first is to market globally from the US, with a US image, in English language, priced in US dollars, and with call centers and fulfillment located in the US (this assumes the marketer is located in the US, but the same concepts apply for marketers located abroad). The other approach is to target one or a few individual international markets with localized branding, language, currency, call-center, possibly with a brick and mortar retail or other operational presence to support the effort. Both can be extremely effective approaches, but have very different levels of initial investment, scale, growth, risk, and return. We tend to see the US-based approach work well initially for lower-risk market entry evaluation and testing, but growth potential can be limited and market size tends to plateau over time. To really scale up an effort, migrating to a local marketing presence is sometimes necessary. It’s a good idea to evaluate the approaches used by market leaders, and gain insight from what has worked for them and what hasn’t. Informal supplier networks and conferences can be good centralized sources of information on who’s doing what, and to connect with other marketers to exchange ideas. Also, it’s very important to test, test, test. We’re surprised to see how few marketers use tried and true testing methodologies outside of their domestic market. While it’s true that mailing volumes tend to be smaller when marketing outside of your domestic market, sensible testing practices can often still be relevant. Needless to say, data quality is a major challenge, so work with suppliers who have significant international experience.

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What should potential clients understand or know about the type of services Global-Z offers?

Global-Z’s core competency is in global address cleansing. Many marketers new to international marketing are familiar with data hygiene services in their domestic market, however global data hygiene is a much more complex and sophisticated process that requires significant knowledge and expertise specifically with international data. Global address data is very complex due to the significant variation in a wide range of factors that influence how addresses work around the world. Factors which can vary significantly from country to country include address formats, number of lines per address, length of address lines and other critical address components, address components unique to the specific country, address line syntax, contact name conventions, language, writing systems, data encodings, geographical factors, cultural differences, structure of the postal system, and many, many other variables. Technology can be a useful tool in dealing with these factors, however there is no substitute for expert knowledge and experience working specifically with global data, and a detailed understanding of how to identify and correct problems that are unique to global data.

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What should a new Global-Z client understand or know about international mailing?

One of the most difficult aspects of ensuring good data quality practices is developing effective measurement techniques for evaluating the quality of your data and the impact of data quality improvement efforts. Just as an example, mailers often assume that if they aren’t receiving any returned mail, their data quality is probably ok. However this can be misleading, since depending on how mail is sent the mail delivery service provider may or may not route undeliverable mail back to the mailer, unless specific steps are taken to ensure that this occurs. A highly effective and strongly recommended practice is to include “seed” names and addresses in any international mailing, in order to evaluate the rate of delivery, total time of delivery, condition of the delivered mailpiece, and similar factors. As another example of the difficulty in measuring results, developing quantitative metrics for evaluating data quality can be very challenging, since comprehensive addressing standards generally only exist in a few countries, and address hygiene standards exist in even fewer. Qualitative metrics are as important as quantitative metrics when dealing with global data, for example visual auditing of the data, which can often be more important and effective than any software tool for evaluating data quality. Due to these and other complex factors, assessing global data quality requires significant expertise.

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How should I best use global data quality services?

Our experience is that the best approach to assessing and improving global data quality is to work collaboratively with subject-matter experts, whether you utilize in-house expertise or outsource to suppliers. Treating data quality improvement as a mechanical, transactional process can lead to many wasted hours and dollars. The best way to ensure effective, long-term, world-class data quality is to recognize the importance of business processes and their impact on data quality initiatives. For example, trying to resolve data quality problems once the data has already been corrupted can be a pointless exercise. By identifying and evaluating the sources of data quality problems and the various technology and business processes that impact data, businesses can develop end-to-end processes that ensure good data management practices throughout the organization. Viewing data quality improvement merely as a “file cleanup” activity can lead to disappointing results. Partnering with experts and sharing your entire marketing vision and philosophy with those partners can help identify and resolve not only data quality problems, but the processes that cause or influence those problems.

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What advantages do Global-Z’s services offer to its clients?

The benefits of global data hygiene include reducing cost by eliminating undeliverable and duplicate mail, improved marketing image, higher quality data to drive analytics, and a more accurate view of your customer.

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