When it comes to bad data, businesses are losing out. With so many options for sourcing data, what's the best choice for you and your business?
Research shows that 22% of contact data is inaccurate or out of date and UK businesses waste almost £198 million a year through poor quality data. Royal Mail alone destroys 15 million wrongly addressed letters a year and one study shows that average business data decays at a staggering 37.7% a year. And when you take into account the opportunity cost of marketing materials going to the wrong people, the costs soon stack up even more. It’s therefore essential to get your data sourcing right, as a strong dataset is key to any successful B2B direct marketing campaign.
But with so many options for sourcing data, what’s the best choice for you and your business?
When thinking about data sourcing, you’ll need to weigh up the pros and cons of each approach, and keep in mind the type of database you think will fit best with your business, sector and offering. Who are your target markets? Which segments do you want to reach within these markets? Are you selling to a highly specialised, niche market, or does your business have a more far-reaching target audience? Your overall business strategy will determine the type of dataset you’ll need to gather, and which approach will best help you achieve this.
A quick and effective way to build your dataset is to buy data “off the shelf”, saving you time and money that would otherwise have been spent manually building a list. External data suppliers can provide new data in bulk, which can be profiled to reflect your target market, and segmented based on specific criteria. Most data providers will allow you to segment data using fields such as company size, industry vertical, location, number of sites or decision maker’s job title. These can all be useful tools to narrow down your data and ensure that it’s most relevant to your needs.
However, when buying data, there’s a few key things to look out for. Always check who you’re buying from and the quality of data you’re paying for – with dodgy data you could do more damage than good! Make sure you carry out due diligence on your data supplier - ask how they source their data, which checks they’ve done, and whether they gave individuals the opportunity to opt out. Your data supplier should comply with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) and Corporate Telephone Preference Service (CTPS) – if a business has opted out of either, you shouldn’t be calling them unless they have already opted into marketing from you by telephone in the past. These checks are only valid for 28 days so your supplier should be constantly checking it.
Also ask questions around how recently the data was refreshed, the process for cleaning their data, and typical bounce rates. It’s always worth checking the supplier’s policy when it comes to refunding inaccurate data, and a good data company should offer to refund or replace any records you find to be incorrect.
If your business is selling to a highly niche industry or a specialist market, you may struggle to buy data that’s focused enough. For example, if you’re a specialist engineering firm selling precision tools within a niche supply chain you may only be selling to a handful of businesses across the country. In this instance, it’s unlikely that you’ll able to capture this level of targeting through a purchased dataset alone. Instead, you could create your own, through online research and by using contacts from networking, exhibitions and LinkedIn. However, this approach will be significantly more expensive and time-consuming, so it makes sense to exhaust other channels first and try and find a reputable data supplier that can meet your requirements beforehand.
Best of both?
Often it can be effective to build a dataset by combining the two approaches, getting the best of both. If you buy data, you’ll usually have a good base to start from, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t go further, and carry out additional telemarketing to segment and prioritise this data. The data you buy from a supplier will probably already be profiled, but you might want to do supplementary qualification checks yourself, to check whether this data meets all of your ideal criteria. When purchasing data, you should be able to buy the details of key decision makers across the organisation, however details of the specific person you’re after might be harder to purchase. In this case, you’ll want to carry out an element of data cleansing yourself, to help increase the relevance of your purchased data, making it as targeted as possible.
Sometimes, the only option is to build a whole new data set, for example, if you’re a new company or are exploring new target markets. But for those who can, it’s always a good idea to think about the contacts you already have. Your money can go further if it’s put towards cleaning up existing data sets rather than starting from scratch, and you know that you are marketing to people who have had some level of interest in your offering in the past. Before plunging into a data acquisition project, think about using data verification techniques or telemarketing to cleanse your existing records.