We’re living through some pretty exciting times for data-driven marketing. Recent research from the Winterberry Group and Global Direct Marketing Association finds that almost 80% of marketers agree data is more critical than ever. The same study also reports that 88% actively use list segmentation and that 64% of marketers buy data from third-party data gathering solution providers and database vendors. If current trends continue, then practically all marketers will embrace the data-driven mindset in just a matter of years.
That means more and more marketers will be seeking the services of business list providers to help them fill their demand for rich, targeted data. If you happen to be part of this group, keep in mind that not all data gathering solution providers are created equal. There’s more to choosing a list vendor than simply comparing prices. To help you find the right data company for you, here’s a quick rundown of the things you should look for in a potential list seller.
- Data Source
One of the key things that a list vendor needs to let you know upfront is its data sources. Typically, data gathering solution companies acquire prospect and customer information through in-house data mining and/or third-party sources. Oftentimes, data providers use a combination of multiple internal and external sources to find and collect information.
The issue arises when a provider relies too heavily on outside data sources. That’s because data vendors do not exert the same level of control over data quality on externally-sourced data than it does on data obtained through in-house efforts. That’s why you really need to know this right off the bat.
- Data Shelf Life
As you know all too well already, data has an expiry date. On average, data decays at a rate of 2% each month. If you apply that to the millions of database records that most data providers claim they have, that’s going to be a huge number by any metric.
That’s why it pays to ask a potential list seller how recent the datasets they’re offering are. You don’t want to use marketing information that’s stale. Bad data will cost you bigtime, not only in terms of poor marketing results but also through significantly lower top and bottom-line figures. Look for vendors that refresh their records at least twice a year.
- QA Process
Data quality covers such a broad area that it can be a little challenging for a customer to evaluate how well a data provider’s QA processes are running. Some crucial things to consider are a list vendor’s data cleansing practices, its data validation methods, and the data maintenance technology it uses.
Another key differentiator that sets most great third-party data vendors apart from the rest is the use of manual data verification in their QA processes. Keeping humans in the data maintenance loop ensures that critical pieces of information aren’t left solely to the whims of algorithms and models.
Just as any other marketing service you’re about to invest in, data gathering solution initiatives should include the relevant set of yardsticks for measuring performance. This makes it easier for you to set objectives and gauge how much the deliverable (list or added prospect details) is contributing to the campaign results.
As a starting point, you should ask a potential data gathering solution partner what deliverability rates to expect. Then, the data provider should also let you know what guarantees it’s making about the initial overall state of the data product along with the actions the vendor will take to fix data issues.
- Compliance Practices
Compliance is another crucial aspect you need to carefully consider when working with a list vendor. Depending on the geographic area you’re targeting, there can be an entire minefield of laws and regulations you may need to navigate around. Your list provider should help you steer clear of these potential problems.
While specific regulations vary, some important compliance considerations to think about in general include:
- Data must be lawfully obtained.
- Information must be given/acquired based on consent.
- Opt-out requests must be promptly acted upon.
- Records must be checked against DNC and DNE lists
You can now confidently assess data gathering solution providers as potential marketing partners. The important thing to take away from this blog entry is to do your due diligence before choosing a list vendor.