Many companies make the decision to purchase data from an outside source, whether it be to kickstart a sales campaign with new leads or to enrich their own customer or market data. With data becoming more important than ever in successful business growth and effective decision-making, this is often a necessary investment. In fact, the 2018 State of Data Quality in Enterprise report found that 37% of any company's data is sourced from second and third parties.
Using a third-party B2B data provider can offer fantastic results for your sales and marketing campaigns and business growth, but there are occasions where companies are left disappointed with the outcome they get. In this article, we'll explore the specific reasons for this, and provide tips on how to get the most out of your data provider to ensure you get the results you're after.
Before we dive into the topic of third-party providers, let's get a little background on why using data is so vital in business today. As the chart below taken from the 2018 State of Enterprise Analytics report shows, businesses enjoy a range of benefits through the use of data and analytics.
The number one advantage noted in the chart is gains in efficiency and productivity. This is important in sales and marketing, where the majority of your team's time should be spent prospecting and talking to customers, not having to make long drawn-out decisions because they don't have enough insightful data at their disposal.
Data is also incredibly useful in sales and marketing, as well as across your business as whole, because it allows for better, more accurate decision making. Relying on gut instinct alone can be very dangerous and ultimately have a negative impact on your business' growth, so it's always a good idea to make use of data that will inform your choices and provide better results.
Somewhat shockingly, a recent survey from Rosslyn Analytics found that just 23% of decision makers align their company's strategy with the data they have. Get ahead of your competitors by using market and company data to guide your business' decisions - you're likely to see great results.
Personalisation is another key use for data in sales and marketing. Research from CEB states that around 57% of the customer journey is completed before a salesperson is even engaged. This means it's essential to target prospects with content that is tailored to their specific needs and preferences, in order to have a better chance at encouraging them further along the sales funnel.
Customers today won't tolerate receiving sales messages that are irrelevant to their needs and business problems, and as the image below from a recent Salesforce report shows, the majority of customers will look unfavourably on any company that doesn't take the time to personalise its content.
So, what are the reasons why a company might consider investing in a B2B data provider? Let's take a look at several of the biggest benefits these platforms can offer your business...
As the infographic below from the 2017 Data-Driven Marketing Survey demonstrates, the top challenge for data management capability is having access to the right/enough data. Using a third-party provider solves this issue, and saves your team valuable time as they no longer have to manually scour the internet to find up to date company information.
This is particularly important considering that recent research from Hubspot revealed that 27% of salespeople are currently spending over an hour every day on basic admin tasks - time that would be much better spent identifying leads and pitching.
Attempting to enter a new market for the first time is always a challenge. Whether you're planning to target a new sector or geographical location, performing market research and finding new leads can be extremely time consuming and overwhelming.
Using a data provider cuts down this process considerably. As well as offering contact data, it can give you important insights into your new market, such as how saturated it is already, so you can determine how likely it is to be a profitable one for your business.
Even if you're not planning on using email or phone lists from a B2B data provider, they can still offer in-depth information that could be very helpful for your business. For example, you could view a company's financial records in order to establish if they have the budget for your product, or discover which technologies they're currently using in order to see if you have a complementary product. You can then add this information to your CRM, and use it to qualify leads or help with your pitch or negotiations.
Moreover, you can often find data on a business intelligence database that would be difficult to get hold of otherwise. These providers can also give you insights that go beyond just statistics; for example, if you want to find out a company's credit score you'll be unable to do so with publicly-available options such as government websites.
Data quality is essential for successful sales and marketing campaigns (more on that later!), and using a B2B data provider can help in this regard. Data providers have a vested interest in supplying the best quality data possible, so a reputable provider will have consistent checks in place in order to ensure it remains accurate and fresh.
Another important note to keep in mind when it comes to data quality, is that information entered into your CRM or other databases can often be done so incorrectly. As is shown in the chart below taken from the Blazent State of Data Quality Management report, this is the most prominent cause for poor quality data. Using a B2B data provider means you can transfer company data straight into your CRM, reducing the risk of having details misspelt, missed out or formatted incorrectly.
There are several reasons why a business might end up disappointed in their B2B data provider. Of course, the fact could be that the provider chosen was subpar and offers low quality data and a bad customer experience. However, providing you've chosen a reputable supplier who guarantees data quality, it is more likely to be any of the following reasons.
As is shown in the chart below from Hubspot, phone and email remain the best channels for reaching out to prospects. If you've purchased access to a B2B database and are struggling to find contact details for the client you want to connect with, it can understandably be incredibly frustrating, and ultimately leave you feeling as though you've made a pointless investment.
Similarly, you might require in-depth information on a particular company, for example if you're qualifying leads or carrying out due diligence checks before a high-value business deal. In this case, you've probably chosen to purchase access to a data provider in order to save time by not having to manually source the information yourself. Therefore, finding that the purchased database is a challenge to navigate and you're unable to drill down to the data you need will inevitably leave you and your team disappointed.
This is usually one of the biggest reasons for disappointment when it comes to data providers. In order to launch a successful campaign in a new market, you need a decent amount of leads to make it cost-effective and to see positive results. Therefore, if you purchase access to a business database and discover it only offers a limited number of records for the region you're targeting, it can be incredibly frustrating. Unfortunately, there are still data providers that don't offer databases segmented by geographical location or industry, which means this remains a common complaint.
If you've had an experience with an inferior data provider in the past, chances are you'll probably be wary of investing in third-party data again. No database of any kind is going to be 100% accurate, so it's important to begin with realistic expectations, and beware of any providers claiming to offer company data with no inaccuracies whatsoever.
Trusted suppliers such as Global Database, D&B and ZoomInfo collate business data from a number of sources, and perform consistent checks to keep it as accurate as is possible. This is essential considering the rate at which business data changes; research from the D&B Sales and Marketing Institute shows that 120 businesses addresses change every 30 minutes.
You may find a provider that offers a much cheaper service, but this isn't likely to save you money in the long run as you'll have incomplete and inaccurate data in your CRM.
Given that the main purpose of purchasing company data for most businesses is to boost their marketing campaigns, low email deliverability rates can understandably be very frustrating. While the average bounce rate varies depending on factors such as industry and location, you should aim to have fewer than 2% of your emails bouncing. Anything over 5% and it's a good idea to look at the reasons behind this number.
One reason for this could be uploading a large contact list to your email service in one go. Doing so will have you detected as a spammer and you could end up being blocked. As we'll explore a little later, there are several other ways to ensure your email campaigns have the best successful delivery rates possible.
Account based marketing (ABM) can be extremely lucrative for B2B businesses, yet as the chart below taken from the 2017 State of Pipeline Marketing report shows, it is still very underused.
In order to perform ABM effectively, your business needs access to high quality data that provides deep insights about a specific company, and as we explored in the last chapter, that is often difficult to come by. Account based marketing centres around targeting a particular company with content and messaging relevant to their specific needs and challenges - so if you're unable to find enough demographic and firmographic data for each business, you're simply not going to see good results from this type of sales and marketing tactic.
This is a shame, because ABM offers some really great potential benefits for your business:
Hyper-Personalisation - This is an obvious one, but ABM allows you to tailor your approach to each business. This is important today because not only do B2B prospects expect a certain level of personalisation, but research from Aberdeen found that 75% prefer it. Your potential clients will appreciate the time and effort you've gone to in order to provide content that suits their goals and pain points, as well as the fact you won't have to keep asking them basic questions about their business.
Increased Engagement - Because you're giving prospects content that is relevant to them specifically, you're likely to see improved rates of engagement. In fact, research from SiriusDecisions revealed that ABM tactics have response rates of 47%, as well as better overall engagement rates.
Better ROI - Focusing on the best potential customers for your products saves you time and money in the long run, with less risk involved because they've been identified as the most qualified prospects. As a result, research from ITSMA found that 87% of businesses agreed that account based marketing increases ROI.
Shorter Sales Cycle - ABM involves focusing your time solely on qualified leads from the very beginning, saving you a lot of time. It also centres around connecting with the decision makers in each organisation, putting you at the heart of each business and giving you the chance to speed up the sales journey.
In order to get the most out of a B2B data provider, it's important to have a little background on the steps and best practices involved. Here's our guide for everything you need to know before you embark on your next sales or marketing campaign using a business intelligence platform.
This may seem like an obvious first step, but it's surprising how many businesses don't take the time to gain a clear picture of their audience, and this can make it very difficult when it comes to using a B2B database. Having an in-depth understanding is not only important for purchasing company data but in marketing and sales in general.
In order to do so, you should look at your previous customers, to see which types of companies make up the majority of your customer base, as well as which types have made the biggest/most frequent purchases. You can then look at the specific similarities between them, for example, industry, location, company size, etc, and target companies with these attributes.
In order to narrow the B2B database down to the particular types of companies you wish to target. This is now more important than ever, given that research from Hubspot has found that 28% of businesses believe it is harder to identify leads today than it was 2-3 years ago.
The Global Database platform makes this process simpler, as it offers more filter tools than any other provider on the market.
The platform allows you to filter based on factors such as industry, location, financial details and more.
You can drill down further on each filter option, for example to look for prospects in the specific niche you’re interested in. This gives you much more control over the results you’ll receive, and ultimately give you a better ROI thanks to qualified leads who are more likely to be interested in your product.
Reaching out to the right contacts in an organisation is imperative for successful B2B selling. This aspect alone can cause a lot of frustration when using a data provider, because you might end up being stuck with generic email addresses, or find it impossible to identify the right person in a company who has the authority to make buying decisions.
Reputable providers such as Global Database will allow you to search the directory for the specific executive types you require. As shown below, Global Database not only allows you to search by keyword for things like contact's name and job title, but you also have access to filter options.
This allows you to filter and segment all of the records for executives based on their seniority level and their specific department, so you can be sure to find the right decision makers for your product.
When it comes to data providers, having access to high-quality data is one thing, but being able to navigate the database with ease is also incredibly important. You can have truly insightful information at your fingertips, but if the provider hasn't made the effort to make the customer experience a good one, you'll struggle to make sense of the data.
Recognising this, all of the data contained in Global Database's B2B directories is displayed simply and clearly, with clear navigational links and divided into sections to keep it easy to digest.
The results page makes it simple to view different companies based on your search criteria.
Each company record contains a range of essential facts and figures, set out in a clear and concise manner for ease of use.
In order to ensure you get the best rates of engagement from your email marketing campaigns, there are several best practices it’s wise to follow. These include:
Limit Sent Emails - Stick to a maximum of 1000 emails per day for your campaign, and send them in smaller batches with intervals of a few seconds between them. This prevents your email service or the ISP from identifying you as sending Spam content.
Personalise - Personalisation is becoming increasing vital in sales and marketing. Indeed, a recent survey from Econsultancy found that 74% of marketers believe it improves engagement rates, and research published by Campaign Monitor has found that personalised subject lines have a 26% better chance at being opened.
Avoid Spam-Like Words - Make sure you're not using words or phrases in your subject lines or email body that could see you being identified as a spammer. These include things like 'free', 'congratulations', 'risk free', 'guaranteed', 'bonus' and 'apply now'. In contrast, research has found that 'breaking' and 'alert' see good engagement for B2B emails.
Follow Up - There have been many studies and surveys that have proven that prospects don't commit to a sale until at least the 4th or 5th touch, and yet the majority of salespeople give up after just two attempts. Following up with prospects by email is one of the best ways to increase engagement in your campaigns, whether the call to action be clicking a link, booking a demo, or making a purchase.
Whether you’ve purchased an email list or built one organically over time, a significant number of contacts will mean you’re likely to need a email service in order to keep things efficient. Here’s what you need to know about three of the most popular providers.
Mailchimp offers different plans depending on your usage. The free plan allows you to send up to 12,000 emails each month to 2,000 contacts or less. Paid monthly plans start at $10 per month for an unlimited number of emails to up to 500 contacts. There’s a handy calculator tool on the site, you can see exactly how much the monthly cost will be according to your needs.
While technically there's no limit to the amount of contacts you can have in your lists on the site, Mailchimp does throttle its email deliveries, according to the ISP involved. This is only likely to affect businesses with particularly huge lists though, making delivery take a little longer.
Mailchimp has the following rules in place for its users:
Comply with the CAN-SPAM Act (whether you’re based in the US or not)
Tell them where your contact list came from
Include a postal address in every email sent
Include a link to unsubscribe in every email sent
As well as offering a free plan that lets you send 100 emails a day, SendGrid has three other plans:
Essentials - Send up to 40,000 emails each month for $9.95
Pro - Send up to 100,000 emails each month to 2,000 recipients, for $79.95 a month.
Premier - For those sending more than 5 million emails each month, pricing based on your specific needs.
SendGrid has the following guidelines in order to ensure you’re fully compliant with their terms of service:
Don’t send emails to generic email addresses, e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org
Avoid sending emails to recipients who haven’t given you permission to do so
Don't send emails encouraging ‘chain emails’ or pyramid schemes
Avoid sending emails that receive a large number of spam complaints
Amazon SES is one of the cheapest email service providers on the market. There's no monthly subscriptions; the platform allows you to send 1,000 emails for $0.10, with $0.12 for each additional GB of attachments sent.
All new users are put in the 'sandbox'. This gives you the chance to try out the platform's features, but you can only send emails to email addresses that you own. A limit of 200 emails a day exists for those in the sandbox. Once you're out of the sandbox, the number of emails you can send depends on your individual case.
In order to prevent your messages being blocked by the SES service, users have to ensure they're not sending low quality of spam-like content. Amazon SES monitors all content that is sent through the service, and if the messages you're sending are deemed as spam they will delay your emails or suspend or terminate your account. The same goes for users who have a high level of bounces or complaints.
Nowadays there is more data being created and shared than ever before. Things like artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things and general marketing processes can leave your business dealing with an overwhelming amount of information.
In order to use this data effectively as possible, you need to have an efficient system in place to manage it properly. Indeed, the Data Driven Marketing Survey revealed that this was a priority for 92% of companies.
In order to do so, you should keep in mind the following tips:
For every dataset your company holds, you should be able to identify its specific purpose. This ensures that you're not wasting time and resources collecting and storing data that you don't need, and also helps to make sure that all new information being added falls in line with this overall purpose.
When choosing to purchase data from a third-party supplier, you need to have a particular goal in mind. Otherwise you're likely to make a wasted investment on datasets that aren't going to help you grow your business.
Whenever you have a large volume of data, it's essential to commit to regular cleaning in order to prevent the data becoming outdated or irrelevant. If you have information sitting in your database that has been accumulated over several years, there's a very good chance a significant chunk of it is no longer valid. Give your data either a manual clean, or use software to do it electronically for you.
Identify a member of your team who will have responsibility for ensuring the data in each of your databases is kept as efficient as possible. This will make it easier for other members of the team to know who to ask for clarifications about the information, for example, how a certain piece of data should be entered, or if a particular source is ok to use.
Nowadays large datasets can become stale and inaccurate very quickly, thanks to the rapid nature of business change today. Using a data provider that doesn't have adequate systems in place to ensure data accuracy could end up having a detrimental effect on your business. Bad data in sales and marketing campaigns can result in:
Low engagement levels
Being reported as spam
Breaking the law
Giving a bad impression of your business
Just take a look at the chart below from the Blazent State of Enterprise Data Quality report, in which businesses mention a wide range of issues that bad data causes their company.
When it comes to ensuring data quality in a B2B data provider, you should make sure you ask them about the following:
Having accurate details for phone and email is obviously essential for a successful sales or marketing campaign. Therefore, you should always double check that the provider verifies these details in-house with a team of staff. Global Database humanly verifies all of its contact data, and every email address is validated every 30 days to provide one of the best email deliverability rates on the market.
In order to help ensure data accuracy, you should ideally use a provider that takes its information from reliable sources. Global Database not only uses its own patented web crawling technology to find new data, it also uses a number of different resources to gather company information. This includes authoritative sources such as Companies House and Chambers of Commerce, as well as data partners and telephone research performed by a team of in-house employees.
Using such a varied list of sources means the data is both in-depth and able to be cross-referenced and verified before it enters the B2B database.
Businesses change their data rapidly, and it could be anything from a trading name and address to the CEO or technology being used. Financial details and credit scores are also subject to constant change, and these are important details to get right. With this in mind, you want to find a data provider that guarantees its data is regularly updated. Without regular updates, any company database is essentially a waste of money - particularly if you're using it for contacts for sales and marketing campaigns.
Global Database updates its industry and regional business directories every single day - something that many other providers such as Zoominfo and Data.com do not do. You're also able to request alerts so that anytime a specific company record is updated in any way, you'll be notified via email.
Finding out which other companies have been clients of the data provider can be a good way to establish how good their reputation is. If leading companies are putting their trust in them, it's obviously a good sign that they're living up to their promises.
Global Database takes its customer satisfaction very seriously, and our commitment to data accuracy means that we've worked with huge brands such as Microsoft, KPMG, Avaya, Maserati, DHL and Motorola.
If a data provider really has confidence in their B2B database, they're far more likely to offer a free sample to interested businesses. Global Database is happy to provide a sample from any of our directories, completely free of charge and with no obligation whatsoever.
Using a third-party data provider is often a great and sometimes even necessary investment. While some businesses may have had a bad experience with low quality providers that has left them wary of other companies in the market, provided you do your research and use reputable B2B data providers, you are sure to see much better results.
In order to ensure that you get the most out of any business database, you need to have a clear grasp of what your business goals are, and the types of prospect you want to target. Then it's just a case of taking the time to learn exactly how to use the tools provided to drill right down to the company data you need and find the ideal leads for your future sales and marketing campaigns. Having all of these aspects together will ensure great results and leave no room for disappointment in your investment.