Fraudsters pose as customers to 'steal' benefits
The issue of 'data fraud' may not at first appear to have a great impact on the marketing department, but canny con artists are increasingly using fake identities - particularly online - to claim an unfair share of the rewards and benefits that marketers are offering, according to online lead generation experts at Clash-Media.
Incentivised campaigns that reward consumers for contributing their personal data, or web sites that are paid for the number of leads they provide for a marketing campaign, make many campaigns highly susceptible to fraud, the company warns.
Simon Wajcenberg, CEO for Clash-Media, believes that this is a serious issue for the marketing industry, and has suggests several ways for marketers to fight the fraudsters during the lead generation process.
With most marketing campaigns, you can already expect around 10% of the results from any data gathering or lead generation campaign to be false - submitted by fraudsters. That is a significant level of fraud on its own, but some campaigns are more likely than others to be specifically targeted, whether that's due to the ease of access or the rewards that are on offer. "Such a campaign, if not properly protected and verified, could see the level of fraudulent data rise to as high as 90%," warns Wajcenberg.
If a company receives 10,000 leads and 8,000 of those are false (a bad case, but not unheard of), there are several implications. First, if the company is unable to 'return' those leads to the provider, it will have wasted a significant amount of its marketing budget on lead generation that can't be used. But, perhaps more importantly, even if all the fraudulent leads can be returned and replaced with genuine ones, somebody still has to sit and identify the 8,000 fake leads - and this is a drain on human resources that can kill the efficiency of the campaign completely, because timescales for campaign success may be almost doubled, and the leads will be less fresh when the good ones are eventually acted upon.
At a time when budgets are being more heavily scrutinised than ever before, visible success from a performance-driven lead generation programme is essential. There are, Wajcenberg suggests, several ways of tracking and eliminating fraudulent leads at source, before the marketing team even receives the leads. For example:
- Stopping the robots A large portion of known fraud is committed through the use of 'robots' - automated internet-based software which can fill out multiple forms in a short space of time. Setting up an automated system that can submit, for example, 1,000 leads per hour means that fraudsters can produce high volumes of leads for very little effort. If each lead is bought for, say, US$0.20, then a robot can generate false leads worth US$200 every hour.
- Monitoring lead quality Quality monitoring systems have the ability to run a thorough analysis of every lead as it is submitted. These automated systems are able to verify the validity of email addresses, postal addresses, and spot signs that a robot has been attacking the campaign (for example, by spotting repetitive or sequential patterns in email address or postal addresses when submitted in quick succession).
The process of weeding out fraudulent data is one that, without the right systems in place, can be very difficult and time consuming. It is not a job that can be done manually without taking a lot of time, which impacts the freshness of the leads and lowers the chance of conversion.
"Many companies do not yet go to these lengths to verify their leads, but fraudulent and even simply low quality leads can end up costing far more in the long run," concluded Wajcenberg. "Marketers must ensure that they use the best data providers that can demonstrate security measures, and that assess the quality of every lead on an individual basis, and that can identify the hallmarks of fraud."