You sign up to an agreement, trust the data is ok, but you don’t really know what you have until you use the data.
It’s a strange industry, what makes it worse, is that with many suppliers you can’t even return the data.
If you could return the data, you would have a proportion of customers buying the data and then returning it for a full refund, but then continue to use the data.
So, it’s understandable that suppliers have to be careful, but on the other hand what if the data they sold is poor quality.
It comes down two key factors: TRUST and DUE DILIGENCE.
Remembering the principle of CAVEAT EMPTOR (“Let The Buyer Beware”) – the seller of goods always knows more about their product than the buyers – so buyers beware.
Therefore, It’s very much up to the buyers to complete their due diligence before they purchase.
Having seen clients buy data and having bought data for clients, here are the 6 biggest mistakes I see when purchasing data…
1. Not Being Precise With What You Want
When you define a brief for data you want be precise. Here’s an example of some data a client wanted to purchase but wasn’t precise enough. They wanted contact details of Marketing Directors of large organisations in France:
- French Companies with employee counts > 2,500
- Contact Job Titles: Chief Marketing Officer or Marketing Director or VP of Marketing or EVP of Marketing (French equivalent)
When they received that data a lot of it didn’t help because there were government organisations which are large organisations with senior marketing roles, but they were not in the target market. The client did not specify: NO government contacts.
So a good part of data was rendered useless because the client hadn’t been precise enough.
Always be very precise by stating what you want and stating what you don’t want – both are equally important.
2. Not Asking for a Sample List
If you are looking to buy a large amount of data, say 10,000 contacts, then I highly recommend you purchase a smaller amount first, say 250 to test the quality of data. This will save a huge amount of money if the data isn’t what you wanted.
If the data is what you wanted then you can always buy the rest.
If the supplier isn’t willing to sell you a small amount then stay clear of that supplier.
Often a small sample of free data is made available before you buy. In my experience, when only a very small number of contacts is offered, like less than 20, then “buyer beware”. The sample is far too small to make a decision and probably the best records have been presented. If they are offering free sample data, make sure it’s an appropriate amount to make a decision with.
3. Not Finding Out the Age of the Data
A few years ago a client purchased business data which was 18 months old. Now in the world of business data, so many people are moving jobs, up to 22% a year.
So for data that is one year old, 22% of the contacts would have moved on. For data that is 18 months old, that figure increases to 33%.
As you can imagine the data had a lot of contacts no longer working there, and quite a few incorrect phone numbers and email addresses.
4. Not Asking About Error Rates and Refunds
If you’re wondering why there should be an error rate, well quite simply, data decays quickly, as people move homes, move jobs, companies come and go, etc.
As these events happen daily, the data decays with every event (there is no such thing as 100% accurate data). So expect some errors, but not too many, but make sure you ask the question!
Once you are using the data, keep a thorough track for any out-of-date data. In case there is an unacceptable error rate, you want to have the details to show the supplier that problem data; in many cases you will receive a refund (check terms & conditions as refund details will be included.)
5. Not Realising Data Decays Quickly
Sometimes the data can be a little worse and a good supplier will either refund an appropriate amount or provide more good data.
As data decays quickly, you want to have a plan to use the data as soon as you can.
Data is time bound; it decays, so the longer you leave it before it’s used, the lower the return.
6. Not Asking About Refresh Rate
Ask what the refresh rate is because this will give you an indication on how good the data is.
If they‘re refreshing data every 6 months, does this apply to ALL data records? Do ask the question to check this is the case. Sometimes not all the records are refreshed.
It’s better to engage a niche data provider, because they are more likely to refresh their data more regularly and they are likely to have less data to refresh.
Suppliers providing millions of contact records will not be able to refresh there data that quickly. It’s not possible without a small army to refresh so much data. They are mostly relying on other data suppliers to supplement their own data.
I hope the above insights help you to make the right purchases, and I hope you found them useful.
At Acuate we have a bespoke service to create accurate data. We use web research techniques, call validation techniques and reputable data suppliers to create target markets for clients.