Published by Simon Brooks on 18th February 2012 | Data Management

5 Reasons Why Sourcing Data Is Never Easy

There’s a simple rule with data. If it looks too good to be true, it definitely is.

Here’s another. Data is never just data.

Sourcing clean, accurate, up to date and properly profiled target data is always one of the trickiest, most complex elements of a B2B lead generation marketing campaign.

Buying in new data is a viable option. But it needs careful thought before you start your campaign.

Having worked with our own data and that of our clients for many years, we reckon there are 5 main factors to consider when buying data. Follow these simple rules and you’ll save time, money and hassle down the line.

01. Decide your target customer criteria.

One of the best ways to identify your ideal target market profile is to look at your existing customer base. Do you want more customers like the ones you’ve got? Or do you want to look farther afield, target bigger companies or hit different vertical sectors? Spend some time carefully profiling your ideal target customers in terms of:

  • Location: Consider how far you’re prepared to travel for a sales meeting or to deliver. Select your target area by postcode, town/city, county or just by radial distance from your office.
  • Size: Think carefully about the size of business you want to target either by the  number of staff they employ or their level of turnover.
  • Business type: Do you sell your products or services to solicitors, accountants or manufacturers? Dun & Bradstreet’s SIC codes can help you decide who to target.
  • Decision maker contact: Who will make the decision to buy from you? Consider the likely job titles of the people you want to target.

If you struggle with any of this, have your customer database analysed and profiled in very specific terms to identify who you want to target.

02. Plan your communication channels.

For best results, take a “joined up” approach to your communications. For instance, when you buy your data, order email addresses and phone numbers, as well as contact names and office addresses. An email to your contacts followed up with a phone call works better than just a single pronged approach of a telephone call alone.

You can monitor the key metrics of your your email campaign, then focus your telemarketing on the contacts that have opened your email and clicked through to your website. It also means that when you make the call, it isn’t completely “cold” and the email may still be in the recipient’s mind.

Once you know how you are going to communicate, you know what data you need to buy in. There are specialist companies that just sell postal addresses and phone numbers, and others that sell email addresses, contact names.

03. Don’t target your existing customers!

You don’t want to waste money buying the contact details of customers you’ve already got.

Most data providers will remove any contact details you give them so that you don’t buy records already in your database. If you have a large database you will need to send details of the contacts such as company name, postcode and telephone number. They’ll also be more than willing to sign a non-disclosure agreement. If not, beware!

It is far better to remove your existing client records at this stage. Not only do you avoid wasting your money buying them in again. You’ll also avoid the embarrassment of targeting your existing clients by mistake!

04. Plan the frequency of your campaigns.

Before you buy in your new contact data, you will need to decide how many times you want to contact them.

Most providers supply data on license only. Typically you’ll have a choice of anything from single or one-time use to multiple use over a 12 month period.  Generally speaking, and depending on your objectives, it may be better to take out a 12 month ‘multiple use’ license, though it will be a bit more expensive.

This means that you can call, email and send mail shots to your new contacts as often as you like within the license period. Some providers will have a ‘reasonable use’ clause in the contract, and of course, best practice dictates that you must respect unsubscribe requests.

05. Where are you going to get the data from?

Before you go ahead and purchase any data, see if you can find anyone to recommend the data provider you are considering. Certain data providers specialise in certain types of data. Some provide B2B data only, others provide B2C data.

Others still specialise in certain vertical market sectors such as public sector, accounting practices or IT and telecoms.

Make sure that your data provider is able to provide all the contact details you require. It’s no good finding out you’ve only got telephone numbers after you’ve bought your data, if what you wanted was email addresses.

Finally, compare buying your data online from “self service” providers with a “full service” provider that will do all the searching donkey work for you!

Good luck!

And don’t forget: if you get stuck and want help with profiling your target data or sourcing data, give C4B Media a call on 01223 750236. Here to help!

This blog was first published by Contacts4Business on Feb 1, 2011
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