Things Are Looking Up: Firm Offers Reverse Lookups For LinkedIn Accounts
The old direct-marketing business had several schemes for finding B2B prospects. You could rent a list, do a reverse phone lookup and hope that the person was still at their job and wouldn’t be annoyed when you called them.
The underlying principle survives today in a product from Swordfish AI: A Linkedin reverse number search tool. The headline says: “Linkedin Reverse Phone Number Search for B2B Prospects.”
Most people who use Linkedin keep their cell phone numbers private, even when their phone numbers and email addresses are part of their profile, the company notes. But marketers can now find“ Linkedin user phone numbers easily using Swordfish.ai’s reverse phone number search tool and chrome extension,” Swordfish AI promised in a Monday press release. They can also find email addresses.
Here’s the problem: Nowhere in this announcement does Swordfish AI mention “privacy,” “compliance” and “permission” — not even in the passing way it is often done.
Swordfish CEO Ben Argeband does address one issue regarding Linkedin.
“The unique thing about Swordfish AI is that it doesn’t violate the Linkedin terms of service because it’s not actually scraping Linkedin,” Argeband states. “It is only using the prospect’s Linkedin profile url as a data reference. It then uses Google to verify this is the correct person you are looking for.”
Argeband continues: “Swordfish AI simultaneously connects to over 200+ network data partners, live in real-time, to obtain the most updated cell phone numbers, email addresses, and contact information for that decision maker or sales prospect you are looking for on Linkedin, within seconds.”
To hear Swordfish AI tell it, it is far from the only business in this arena. “Swordfish AI is a more accurate and cost-effective alternative vs. competitors such as: Zoominfo, DiscoverOrg, RocketReach, Lusha, Uplead, SignalHire, Seamless.ai, Clearbit, ContactOut, AeroLeads, Voila Norbert, BeenVerified, Spokeo, Intelius, Radaris and many other contact finding tools and platforms,” the company asserts.
That may be. But as marketers move toward using only zero- and first-party data, it’s hard to see how you can use third-party vendors to get it.
“Sadly, companies like ZoomInfo and others have had this information for a long time,” says Ryan Phelan, CMO of CMO, RPEOrigin. “I think the headline is misleading cause it’s not LinkedIn per se, sound (to me) that a third-party company is using LinkedIn as an identifier against other data.
“I think there’s a blowback on mobile phone publishing coming. They’re not always used for or paid for by their employer. At what point is it an invasion of privacy? At what point do consumers get to use a do-not-call concept for salespeople that get their information from services like this.
“Mobile spam is increasing and it’s something that needs to be addressed.”
Now we’re not trying to give a free shoutout to Swordfish AI. But let’s say this offering works as promised while protecting privacy.
The danger is that critics will see this announcement and use it as a cudgel to beat up the industry.
“Do you see what these guys are doing?” they will ask.
There’s only one response for apologists: “You don’t really believe that, do you?”
But they should believe it: these days, anybody can do anything.
B2B buyers are increasingly protective of their own privacy. And this transfer of data could easily come under the sights of EU regulators.
As Ryan Phelan says, “Trash or treasure.”
We left a message with Swordfish AI, but had not heard back at deadline.