Interview: Craig Swerdloff Can Help with Your Dirty Email Problems


Craig Swerdloff and his company LeadSpend want to help email marketers clean up their acts.  That is to say they’d like to help marketers avoid databases full of bogus email addresses and other undesirable elements that could hamper an otherwise smooth-running email marketing operation.  With the average email inbox becoming increasingly more challenging for even legitimate marketers to reach the expense of validation can often pale in comparison to the costs of not validating an email list regularly.

I talked with Craig about his company and how it can help validate email addresses.

Craig, please tell me a bit about your company, your background in the online world, and of course the validation service your company offers.
LeadSpend is a data hygiene company using the latest innovations in social media and email marketing to validate contact data in real-time. We process data in the cloud, and do not keep any contact information in a database, ensuring maximum security and accuracy.  My career in online media started in 1996.  I have done time in email, lead gen, display, and SEM.  I am proud to have lead the IAB’s Email Committee when we drafted the “Lead Quality Best Practices” and “Email Data Management Best Practices” documents.
With the advances in fraud detection and data validation technology do you feel legitimate business is closing in on fraudulent ones or do you think we’re just catching on to their latest techniques?
The tools for identifying and managing fraud, and other less nefarious data issues exist.  Whether people choose to use them or not is the question.  For some, these tools may be too expensive given the value of their data.  Still others choose to ignore the issues and focus on short-term profits.  I am speaking on a panel at LeadsCon called “The Other Part of Compliance: Managing and Preventing Fraud” which will cover this at length.  I am not going to hold any punches, and I hope my panel mates wont either.
Many companies are trying to do as much as possible in house these days for a number of reasons including control over the time it takes to integrate new ideas into their software. From the perspective of a third party system provider what do you think companies like yours can offer to clients considering turning inward for their validation solutions?
There is actually a lot that companies can do internally to manage contact data validation.  For example, they can check that an email address is properly formed, and that a DNS record exists for the domain.  They can check that the zip code matches the city and state provided.   However, there are a lot of data validation techniques that cannot be done in-house, or at least do not make sense economically. Examples include using SMTP connect to validate an email address, or subscribing to USPS postal data.
The applications of your service are pretty obvious to online marketers, particularly ones who re-market to their in house email opt in lists. Are there any applications you feel are not as obvious that you could share?
There are two other important applications of our real-time email validation:  The first is focused on increasing revenue.  It occurs during the data collection process, whether that is online on a registration form, or via a call center.  If a prospect provides, or a call center employee mistakenly types in an invalid email address, you have an immediate opportunity to correct that by asking again politely.  If scripted well, usually with a bit of humor and reinforcement of your value proposition, it enhances the relationship.  At the very least you now have a deliverable email address to communicate with.  The second application is more of an insurance policy.  It occurs after the data has been collected from prospects, but before you have sent any email to them.  Identifying invalid addresses, spam traps, fraud, role accounts, temporary accounts, or other nefarious types of email addresses before you send mail to them saves your sender reputation, and enhances your ability to get mail through to the inbox.

From a cost and features standpoint can you tell me about your service as it relates to other data hygiene services?
Specific to email validation, we believe our service is faster and more accurate than any of our competitors.  We offer a number of integration options, and our API is extremely intuitive.  Our pricing is competitive, and we are the only company to offer a Pay Per Invalid model which benefits marketers with very clean data.

What’s the best way for someone to reach you in order to learn more about your company and its services?
Email of course!

What's your opinion?