For those of us who have operated in the B2B marketing space, there is a broad understanding that data on business prospects often leaves much to be desired.  It’s even more stark a shortfall if you have worked with data on consumers where we have a huge amount of insight on each and every consumer.

The depth of consumer data literally dwarfs what is available on businesses.  There is lifestyle data, interests from magazine subscriptions, Prism Clusters and so on.  What do we have one businesses?  Name, address, years in business, SIC code and number of employees seems to be the bulk of it.  There’s nothing really to sink your teeth into.

Then there are the accuracy issues.  The quality of every list suffers over time, but business lists take this to a new level.  Issues occur regularly on the business side, as they go out of business, merge or get acquired, close offices, etc., but the real shortfall is in finding particular people with specific responsibilities within those businesses.

With all these issues putting pressure on the quality of your purchased data, you need to do all you can to squeeze the most out of your business marketing lists.  Here are some tips you help you do that.

  • Get as many ways to contact the target as possible.  Buying lists that are only emails or phone number or physical address may be required from time to time to reach a specific audience, but in general, you’ll do best with lists that have more touch points.
  • When purchasing, base your decision on the cost per your target, rather than cost per record.  Stay focused on who it is you are trying to reach.
  • Refresh your data as often as you can.  Many data purchases include a year’s license and a chance to refresh the data at regular intervals.  Despite the work involved, it’s worth the effort.
  • Monitor quality of all of your lists.  When quality suffers and is demonstrable, share that feedback with the vendor, using detailed data if you can.  You’ll improve the overall quality as well as likely getting some negotiating room the next time.
  • Consider building your own database.  Depending on the size of your target market, it might be best to start with a basic business list and use some telemarketer time to identify and add the decision makers’ information to the database.

In the long run, we can at least hope that the overall quality of B2B lists will improve, with “dig data” style aggregation of available data to hone in on the right person within a business or perhaps someone (e.g. LinkedIn) will get a better handle on individuals’ current professional persona and solve the whole issue.  Until then, practice these and other methods to make the most of what’s available.

Do you find quality issues with business lists? What have your best sources been?


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