Good News: B-to-B Prospecting Data Is More Accurate Than You May Think
Business marketers are always complaining about their customer data. “It’s pretty bad,” they’ll say. “It’s a mess.” Over the last decade, my colleague Bernice Grossman and I have studied this issue, producing a series of five research reports on the quality of the data B-to-B marketers can rent or buy for prospecting purposes. Our latest study, published this week, shows that prospecting data is surprisingly accurate — well over 90 percent. We actually verified the accuracy by outbound phone, thanks to the call center at PointClear.
In past studies, our focus has been on both data quantity and quality, with the goal of giving marketers a sense of how likely they will be to reach all the prospects they want, with minimal waste, using the prospecting data provided by U.S. vendors today.
We were generally satisfied with the method we used to get at data quantity, where we asked vendors to provide company counts in specified sample industries and contact counts at specified sample companies.
But when it comes to data quality, we have long wished for a better method of verifying the accuracy of the company records provided by data vendors. Fortunately, an opportunity arrived with a generous offer from Dan McDade of PointClear to televerify the data samples. PointClear provides lead generation and management services, and houses a sophisticated and efficient call center run by Karla Blalock.
So we invited vendors of B-to-B prospecting data to participate, and we structured a research study to get at the accuracy of a statistically projectable sample of company records from the vendors. The five participants who agreed, and contributed a data sample, are Equifax, Harte Hanks, Infogroup, Lake B2B and Salesforce. Our sincere thanks to them all. (Harte Hanks has since sold its prospecting data business.)
The televerification process took place immediately on receipt of the names, but the analysis was more complex than we expected. Eventually, the skilled analyst David Knutson generously volunteered to work on the research data for us.
Ruth P. Stevens consults on customer acquisition and retention, and teaches marketing at companies and business schools around the world. She is past chair of the DMA Business-to-Business Council, and past president of the Direct Marketing Club of New York. Ruth was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in Business Marketing by Crain's BtoB magazine, and one of 20 Women to Watch by the Sales Lead Management Association. She is the author of Maximizing Lead Generation: The Complete Guide for B2B Marketers, and Trade Show and Event Marketing. Ruth serves as a director of Edmund Optics, Inc. She has held senior marketing positions at Time Warner, Ziff-Davis, and IBM and holds an MBA from Columbia University.