Having decided on the data that you need and what a good target prospect looks like, the next stage in your data journey is to have a good think about where an appropriate source might live. On a simplistic level, there are two main destinations:
Websites such as Marketingfile (www.marketingfile.co.uk) provide a quick and easy way of assimilating the raw data to start a campaign. You should be looking at somewhere in the region of 30p-50p per record which makes it very cost effective but keep in mind that you will often trade this speed for accuracy of data (which is something I will move onto).
A more focused option could be to look for communities of companies that interest you and to populate data directly from these resources. As an example, you may find that online communities such as LinkedIn groups and twitter offer a more interesting twist on engagement. Likewise, offline communities such as networking groups, exhibitions and trade magazines may provide common denominators which help in the successful creation of relationships.
This method will provide you with a focused batch of data with a good opening statement (i.e. I saw you were at … event), the drawback being that it will be a slow process to populate and confirm all of the information necessary to start a campaign.
Understanding data accuracy
When making purchases from a data provider, there is likely to be a reasonable degree of inaccuracy (particularly with constantly changing criteria such as named contacts and positions).
This inaccuracy will have larger implications depending on the marketing channels you are intending to use. For instance, emails are likely to have less of a financial burden on a first approach whereas direct mail can be a very costly exercise if the majority of named contacts are incorrect.
I would personally recommend taking some time to evaluate the data in order to understand its accuracy and make an educated decision about the best approach. My first exercise with a new database is to ring a selection of companies to validate the contacts, their title and personal email address.
After doing a number of these types of calls, you get a feel for the data’s accuracy and can make an informed decision on what to do next. Options might include:
Qualification by email
You might target large volumes of data by email thus enabling you to track open / click rates and isolating genuine data from dead data. The drawback being that, if email addresses are not personal (info@, enquiries@ etc) the results are likely to be skewed and it does rely on prospects actually looking at the information sent.
Physically phoning the companies, identifying contacts and personal email addresses is a slow but thorough method of engagement.
Using social media to research contacts can be useful though it is important to understand that apart from being time consuming, some people are not as good at updating their role as others.
In reality, a combination of different techniques can often offer the most efficient solution to data purchasing and its subsequent validation.
I would suggest picking up the phone to the data provider to understand exactly what you are buying, stipulating what you are aiming to achieve and the channels you are hoping to use to avoid any major hiccups.
Alternatively, you can always call an agency such as Helix bd for objective advice (we’re always happy to help). Happy hunting!
This article was written by Leo Hardy. Leo is one of the directors of Helix BD and welcomes all comments and responses.