Know Thy Source
Last week, I mentioned that it’s important to know the origin of the B2B data you’re buying. In this week’s post, you’ll learn about the different types of data vendors and some things to keep in mind when working with them.
1. Owners: There’s a big advantage when you buy your list from a vendor who owns the data they’re selling: it’s accuracy. We’ve all played the game “telephone,” where information passed from person to person is amusingly distorted by the time it gets to the last person in the line. The same thing happens with B2B data.
The Good: Generally speaking, the closer a data vendor is to the ultimate source — the individual or company whose information appears in your list — the more accurate the data will be. Here’s why: data owners are responsible for compiling, de-duping, tagging, filtering, verifying and updating their data. Take email addresses, for example. Say you want a list that records that are new (added to the vendor’s database within the last month). Only a data owner has access to such fine details about records.
Owners of data are intimately familiar with every aspect of their information-gathering and verification processes. Ask them. They should be more than willing to provide specifics.
Lastly, data owners are usually quick to resolve any problems. Inaccuracies that are found can be immediately corrected (it’s in their best interest to do so!), and they’ll have the most flexibility for negotiating make-goods.
The Bad: One possible downside of working with a data owner is that many (a professional association that sells its membership list, for example) do not use other sources against which data can be verified.
The ideal data owner is one that verifies information against multiple independent sources, such as company Web sites, news articles, etc. And if your list vendor allows individuals or companies to easily update their own data, that’s an added advantage that drives superior data accuracy.
2. Brokers & Resellers: The Good: Many brokers and resellers — or the middleman between you and the ultimate source of the B2B data you are buying — offer value-added services for clients, including special tools for uploading and managing data, and dedicated account managers. Keep in mind that part of your purchase price covers these services, whether or not you need or use them.
The Bad: A major disadvantage of working with data brokers and resellers is their lack of familiarity with the data. They may not know how often their list sources update or verify information, if at all. And, like in the game of “telephone,” data accuracy may be questionable because the broker has no accountability for the data quality. These data sellers must also mark up list costs to drive their profits. So the same data you’d buy from an owner for $X/name may cost you $X + X%/name via a broker or reseller.
3. Aggregators: The Good and Bad: The biggest benefit of buying data from an aggregator — which usually includes a plethora of sources — can also be the biggest drawback. You can buy boatloads of data from aggregators. However, there are often duplicate or conflicting records between aggregated sources, which can dramatically reduce your campaign’s success metrics.
Here’s another issue: information obtained from multiple data owners (each fielding, tagging and displaying information differently) is not standardized, making it difficult, if not impossible, to successfully import data to your CRM or SFA system. Additionally, aggregators are often severely restricted in what they can sell. (This is also true for brokers and resellers.) For example, although a particular piece of information may be included in the data set you receive, such as company size, the aggregator may not have the rights to provide that data as an individual select. Data owners and resellers — from whom aggregators get their data — protect their own list business by limiting the ways in which other vendors are able to slice and dice their data. Aggregators may also have minimum purchase requirements, and are generally less flexible in their ability to negotiate pricing.
So how do you decide if your data vendor is right for you? Stay tuned. Next week, we’ll tell you exactly what to ask your vendor when you buy samples, and give you guide to to keep them honest.
Also read “Becoming a better data buyer” Part I: Three Tips for Creating Winning Lists
Anncy Graziano is ZoomInfo’s Manager of Data Services Operations.