Purchasing B2B data isn’t rocket science. There are common areas that can be learned quickly, and vendors can help with less common queries. However, once you expand your requirements beyond your country, you might be surprised at how complex buying can become. These 10 commonly overlooked areas require careful consideration, or your data purchase decisions could cause the failure of an otherwise fantastic campaign.
1) Turnaround times vary, greatly!
In Western markets, 24 – 48 hours turnaround time for counts is the norm. Other markets respond slower. Far Eastern vendors, for example, can take 5-10 days to return a count. Work this into your timelines.
2) Adhere to local data legislation.
Be careful to adhere to local law and best practice, and ensure your data suppliers follow regulations too. In Germany, double opt-in rules mean there is no such thing as a cold email. Conversely, the UK operates opt-out for B2B, so you can have a broader reach with email campaigns. This is not just important from a data perspective – there is no point creating a fantastic campaign if it cannot be deployed.
3) No database is perfect.
Some databases are fresher than others, but none are 100% accurate. Business data decays rapidly (Watch this video to see how rapidly!), so you need to know local benchmarks and the vendors’ guarantees. That way you can expect certain inaccuracies, order over-supply when necessary and identify if the quality of the data you purchased is genuinely unsatisfactory.
Can non-English data be handled accordingly? Can your systems cope with special characters found within many European languages such as German or Spanish? What about double byte characters from Russia and the Far East?
5) Variation of variables – do they meet your needs?
Not all vendors collect, manage and store data consistently. Variables like employee size and turnover can be banded or actual, and the latter could be local currency or US Dollars. Check how vendors report these variables early in the planning process.
6) NACE vs. SIC vs. NAICS – ensure consistency of selection.
There are different ways an organization’s industry can be categorized. In Europe, a NACE code is used whereas in the USA, US SIC codes or NAICS is used. While there are similarities between all systems, there are also subtle differences. Aim for consistent use of industry codes, especially when using multiple vendors.
7) Put data volumes into context.
If you listen to vendors’ claims, then every database is the biggest and best on the market. But don’t worry, a bit of common sense will ensure you obtain genuine datasets. If the vendor claims they have 40m businesses in the USA, then it’s probably not true. Why? Research shows there are only 20m businesses, so the 40m figure is more likely to be contact volume, not sites.
8) Lack of data quality standards.
In the UK, we have an established association, The DMA, who produce guidelines and member Codes of Practice on acceptable data quality benchmarks. However, in some developed markets – including North America – there are no comparable benchmarks and vendors set their own standards. Don’t make any assumptions; ask suppliers what their guarantees are and why. Ask probing questions about their data collection methods and quality processes.
9) Know the cost and usage terms.
How do you want to be billed, €, £ or $? If it’s different to the vendor currency, ensure you work in the correct exchange rates and include caveats allowing for fluctuations. How do you access the data? Annual subscription licences vs. per record purchase? Must data be downloaded from a portal or can it be transferred by SFTP?
10) Data formats vary.
With 180 + countries globally and many of them having individual address standards, there are different ways to represent an address. Communicate to the vendor exactly what you need for the campaign. Taking international phone numbers as an example, should country code be a separate field? Does the number need leading zeroes?
Buying data can be complex, particularly for international campaigns in markets where you are unfamiliar. The 10 areas above are the tip of the iceberg. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about the above, or need guidance on how to apply these tips to your marketing programs.