Accurate Append is that special kind of tech company that bridges cutting-edge practices and traditional brick-and-mortar businesses. You’d go to them if you need to merge and enhance complicated contact data sets, or if you need to deliver a few thousand postcards for your automotive business. We sat down with Accurate Append’s President Chris Nichols to learn about best practices and changes in the contact data industry.

AHG: What are some of the more complicated challenges you deal with in your business?

Nichols: In the U.S., contact data for reaching consumers is highly commodified – that means specialty businesses like mine need to differentiate ourselves and offer better quality data. We’ve invested heavily in the last few years in developing algorithms that ensure our customers get the best customer matches, with the most timely information. Sometimes this means merging our proprietary data with client data and filling in the gaps with partner resources – and doing it with very large datasets. That’s a lot of moving parts, and doing it right is a big deal – not just for us, but for our clients’ bottom line.

AHG: What kinds of things are your customers looking for?

Nichols: One of our newest products for self-serve users is an API for verifying contact data – like, when someone enters an email address on your website, our API will ping back the status of that email. Is it valid? We also offer traditional email append, phone append, and address append services. Many customers just want to make sure their outbound marketing – calls, postcards – is efficient and effective. No one likes calling the wrong person or having their mailers bounce back. We’ve also done quite a lot of work with political campaigns looking to update and verify information on public voter files, where contact information can be quite old.

AHG: What are the technical skill a client must have in order to work with Accurate Append?

Nichols: From none to a whole lot! If you’re just looking to verify whether emails are valid, for example, you can email an attachment to customer service. Then there are what we call “batch” clients who regularly give us large files. This could be a political campaign looking to make sure they are differentiating between cell and landline telephones for compliance and accuracy. For batch customers, we offer FTP processing. You upload a file to your secure folder and we return the results in that same folder. It’s fast, efficient, and doesn’t require an engineering degree. Developers who want to work with our APIs will need quite a bit more skill. But we’re always striving to make it easier for developers to work with us – for example, we recently added API features written to the Open Support Data Initiative specification used by some political and advocacy customers.

AHG: How did you end up in this business?

Nichols: I learned how to code pretty early – for a while there was just huge growth in this business for folks who understood the business side and the code. In 1994, I started a company called Digital Research, which provided public records and other investigative information for attorneys, private investigators, and other licensed professionals. In 1999, I co-founded, where I designed its original data warehousing and search systems. Today I run Accurate Append and a sailing business – you’ve got to take advantage when you live near the Puget Sound!

AHG is a longtime Accurate Append partner, focusing on social media presence and search engine optimization. In 2018, Accurate Append data hygiene supported programs that reached hundreds of thousands of voters.