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Do’s and Do Not’s of Data Sourcing

When marketers put their time and energy into a campaign, nothing is more upsetting than to see unsuccessful results; low deliverability/engagement, and a low return on investment. Why is this happening so often? Even though there are various options for data vendors available, a handful of marketers are quick to pick the most convenient and cheapest to get their campaigns launched ASAP. If marketers spent more time considering data vendors and weighing the differences, they would be able to better select one that works best for their company and their initiatives. Below are some of the main, easily-avoidable mistakes that marketers make and how they can be avoided with data sourcing best practices.

Data Gathering

When selecting a data provider, some marketers choose to just do a quick, simple Google search and select the first choice that appears, without looking too thoroughly at the background of the company, how they acquire their data, and how old it is. Data vendors traditionally fall into one of three categories: compiled, crowd-sourced, or self-reported. The way the data is gathered is correlated to the accuracy of the data.

Much like it sounds, compiled data is an assortment of data collected over time and merged together. The worst part about compiled data is that it is 18 months old, on average, by the time it is entered the vendor’s database; not to mention how old it is at the point of sale, thereafter. According to The Balance, the average person changes his/her job 10-15 times throughout his/her career. Therefore, a lot can change within the 12-18 months in which the data was being processed and leaves a lot of room for error.

Crowd-sourced data is also like it sounds: it is sourced from a crowd, or group of people. Oftentimes, vendors who offer it have an incentive-based plan where users are encouraged to input the contact records they have, in return for ‘credits’ to download additional, net-new contact records. The primary issue with crowd-sourced data is overlapping, conflicting information, and age. For instance, 12 different people could report contradicting information about me; however, none it may be correct or up-to-date. Just because everyone has a say in what they believe is correct, data is not a democracy and cannot be argued. It is simply correct or incorrect.

Self-reported contact information is, again, like it sounds: information that the contact puts publicly provides about himself/herself. This means the data is more accurate and up-to-date, resulting in greater results from campaigns. Despite the seeming accuracy of self-reported contact data, it is important to ask potential vendors how often they are gathering this information. This type of data gathering is the fundamental aspect of sourcing new data to ensure a successful campaign and is not to be overlooked.

Quality over Quantity

The second most-encountered issue when sourcing new data is the issue of quality versus quantity. Several marketers will, due primarily to budgeting or convenience issues, pick the cheapest data vendor out available. While wanting to get the most out of one’s money is completely understandable, it is more sensible to make a worthwhile that can bring better-fitting results. For instance, even though 1,000 contacts for $100 sounds like a great deal, the contacts are probably not the best fit for potential customers and will likely contain old, outdated information, meaning your campaign success will suffer. On the other hand, if you were to spend $1,000 on 1,000 contacts, you would be more likely to receive a robust contact profile, which typically results in yielding a higher delivery/response rate from campaigns. The way I think about it is: you just put so much time, energy, and money into building the perfect, targeted campaign, you need to invest as much time and money into making sure the audience is right, so that you can see the results you want and deserve. This should not be a quick and easy process, because results need to be analyzed over time. Most marketers don’t spend enough time on examining the data source, but this is a MAJOR aspect of the campaign that you do not want to cheap-out on.


Testing the Data


Like any investment, you always want to test the waters and get the right feel before you commit to anything. Data should be no different. While many vendors will provide you with a sample list of contacts to see how accurate their data is, it is important to see where your potential return on investment can go with their data and to analyze every aspect of the information. Running sample campaigns to see open/response rates utilizing the data from multiple different providers should be a key component in the decision-making process, because it will allow you to compare and contrast your options. This should be a concerted effort from marketing and sales, because typically both departments will be using different aspects of the data. For example, the marketing department should test the email addresses or social URLs, sales should test phone numbers to see if they are company HQ numbers or if they even work. Once the test has been performed, an analysis of the results should clearly highlight the best choice in providers for your company.

One-Stop Shop vs. Recurring


Every now and then, marketers will choose to purchase a single list of contacts for a one-time project. Once the campaign is over and done with, the list is typically put in a cycle for nurturing, likely gets overused, then ultimately the list expires and isn’t usable anymore. According to Hubspot, contact data expires at a rate of 30% per year. So, when the time arrives when you’re under pressure to get more leads for the next campaign, what happens? The cycle occurs again. You buy a list, overuse it, trash it, then re-purchase many of the same contacts. And, you guessed it, those contacts will continue to degrade just like all contact data does. Why continue purchasing single, one-time lists when you could just refresh the original list, adding more contacts as they move on to new roles at new companies? A handful of data vendors on the market offer data cleansing services, to continually make sure your data is cleansed and updated. If you are going to invest in your marketing campaigns, why not ensure that you can get the most out of information you already have at your fingertips and then some? This is an aspect of data sourcing that is usually overlooked, but can save a company hundreds of thousands of dollars from having to get new lists each time they run a new campaign. Another key aspect to look for in a recurring data provider is list suppression. The ability to prohibit existing contacts to be in your new lists allows for major growth in your database and, thus, a larger reach.

When sourcing new data vendors for your campaigns, make sure you get the most out of what is available. Don’t spend time and money on a project if you are not going to invest equally in the audience to get the results you want. All too often, people just pick what is most readily available to them, however, looking at and weighing all your options can ultimately help you get the most potential return on investment and ensure a successful campaign.