Buying B2B Data: What You Need to Know

If you’re looking for a reliable way to get ahead in lead generating and prospecting, buying B2B data could be a viable avenue to explore. Although some have philosophical reservations about buying contact lists, it is a proven strategy that can be an integral part of your lead generation playbook.

The important part is how you use the data and apply it to an overall marketing strategy. Here are some key points to help you determine how much of a role purchased data should play for you, what to look out for with vendors, and how to best apply the data you purchase.

What draws us to lists – and what can go wrong

Companies and entrepreneurs have been drawn to buying B2B lists since databases began. Who wouldn’t be interested in a tool that can save you from going after unqualified and uninterested contacts and organizations? Buying the right data to enrich your marketing and sales intelligence just makes sense when it is done properly.

Negative issues and perceptions generally stem from one of three areas:

  1. Accuracy of raw data
  2. Recency of last record update
  3. Application of that data in external marketing

As with everything, knowledge is power.  Here are some proven strategies for both avoiding potential pitfalls and maximizing your B2B data.


Know your niche and the right type of data provider for you

Start with YOUR market – not someone else’s. Looking at pre-built lists to guide your data purchase decision is a recipe for waste, stale data, and disappointing results.  If you haven’t shopped around to find services that can offer you a consultation and collaboration to create a totally customized dataset, you may not have looked hard enough.

There are also services that offer wide-open access to their complete database, with filters that give you control of how to slice the data. These are typically subscription services that require an annual contract. Be aware of the limitations of these preset filters for your specific niche, overall completeness of the database, and make sure to verify for yourself how often the data is validated.

Getting a sample of actual data that meets your criteria is essential in the evaluation process. No amount of bells and whistles can make up for questionable accuracy at the raw data level. Also, be sure to consider the quantity and frequency of data needed to keep your pipeline full. This will help determine which data solution will be the most cost-effective for your needs.


You might think you know your niche, but you can probably do better

Ask any established company who their target customer is, and they’ll most likely refer you to their website’s Customers page or a brand positioning slide on a pitch deck. In reality, this top-line answer is usually not close to defining core customer attributes, which is critical in creating the perfect list that is neither too wide, nor too narrow.

This is where the expertise of a quality B2B data provider comes into play. The art is connecting and translating industry jargon and broad terms into crisp keywords and phrases. Fields like title, company, sector, and others can be divided in nearly infinite ways with a little imagination and the experience from having done it successfully, over and over again.


Picking the right supplier and buying the perfect list

Here are some questions to think about or research as you navigate this valuable process:

About the vendor and their data:

  • Where is the data being sourced?
  • Does the vendor appear credible online?
  • Does their website look like they’ve invested time and money into it?
  • What do customer reviews and testimonials say?
  • Does the vendor offer free data or trial access?
  • Do they offer a quality guarantee?
  • What is the minimum purchase size?
  • Will you have a consistent, assigned representative to communicate with before and after the purchase?
  • If the service is completely automated (no live representative), what is the process for getting a refund if the data doesn’t meet expectations?

About you:

  • What key fields will you be using most – and are they complete and accurate?
  • What is the main way you’ll utilize the data?
  • What about data you already have that may overlap? Can the vendor remove duplicates against their database before you purchase?
  • How will you measure the ROI of your data purchase?
  • How will you integrate the data into your existing systems?
  • Who will be assigned to follow up on the increased inflow of leads? Should they be tied into the purchasing decision?

The more prepared you can be coming into the vendor selection process, the more confident you can be in the expected results and in identifying red flags that might get in the way of achieving desired ROI.


Multi-channel data usage to maximize ROI

Although it’s important to focus on the primary way you’ll utilize the data when determining what to buy and from whom, considering multiple usages for the same dataset can result in geometrically higher results.

In the past, data would have come from lead sources that involved in-person, direct mail, phone or mass media advertising.  With the advent of digital marketing, the dynamic of lead generation had changed – and will continue to change at a rapid pace. This means staying ahead of where your customers are looking and capitalizing on the best way to reach them where they are to create awareness and action.

To most efficiently use B2B contact and company data, perhaps the biggest weapon is segmentation. Whether dividing your own internal organic list or supplementing from an external source, having an end product that allows for message personalization is essential.  The data can then be applied in the following channels effectively to provide best-in-class multiples on investment:

  • Segmented email marketing campaigns and sequences using the data to personalize
  • Custom audience creation on social media, such as Facebook
  • CRM data appending to make sales reps more productive
  • Target audience building for keyword and phase-based searching, such as Google Adwords
  • Better placement of banner ads and other marketing posts online
  • Adding a second or third method to reach key customers
  • Intelligence to get straight to the decision maker

We hope you can apply some of the ideas in this B2B data list buying guide to your vendor evaluation and selection process to make data a more critical part of your B2B sales and marketing strategy. Ultimately, the right vendor and data should not only help you acquire new customers but should also give you back time to focus on revenue-generating activities like innovation and building existing relationships.

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