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How to Guide


How to buy data in a downturn

How to buy data in a downturn

The perfect marketing database would allow you to reach every single contact on your list, but due to various factors, this rarely happens. Far too often, campaigns will be sent to substandard lists where as many as 25% of the contacts listed will be incorrect.

With the current economic climate, now is not the time to waste valuable time, energy and money due to poor quality data.

Use the hints and questions below to maximise your chance of using the highest quality data available.

· There is no substitute for in-house research.
Always ask a potential supplier how they collect their data. If they are vague or unable to give an answer, steer clear!

· Remember – data suppliers are not immune to economic pressures.
Be wary of suppliers who regularly and heavily discount - more often than not, you get what you pay for. It’s easy to focus on the short-term cost savings, but going on price alone will invariably lead to decreased response rates and poor results. The quality of a database is generally reflected by the price paid, due to the cost of regular and in-depth updating methods used by the data company.

· A sign of things to come
Another factor to bear in mind is the availability of staff to deal with your enquiry. If you are finding it difficult to get through to a representative, it could be a sign of overstretched resources, which may prove problematic if help is needed at a later date.

Use the questions below to get a better understanding of how the supplier operates and ask yourself whether you feel confident in their answers.

How is the data collected?

Data can be collated through a variety of methods, from tele-research to magazine subscribers. Validated data e.g. tele-researched normally of a higher quality than lists collated via other methods i.e. exhibition attendees or web harvesting.
What to look for in a good answer:
They have as much communication with each contact on their database as possible. Generally speaking, telephone research is at the top with maximum contact (and therefore accuracy) and web harvesting is at the bottom with minimum contact.

How is the information kept up to date?

Like data collection methods, updating methods vary from regular mailings to tele-research, and from gone-away updates to information given by clients.
Example: Companies with lists of subscribers to published media will send their customers information on a monthly basis, using the response from this to update their information. This relies on mailers being sent back, and will not account for those that simply get binned.
Lists from exhibitions, conferences and seminar attendees are very rarely updated, if at all, after the event. It is also widely understood that where a reward is offered (a free magazine subscription or exhibition entry), people are likely to exaggerate their status in order receive this, thus leading to inaccurate information being collected.
A good answer should include:
A regular cycle for updating each record, preferably by phone.

What quality guarantees are in place for incorrect records or gone-aways?

A good gauge as to the potential quality of the database is how confident the supplier is in their own product.  A strong guarantee (such as refund on any gone-aways) will establish confidence and will mean you only pay for the contacts that receive your message. 
What to look our for in a good answer:
 A refund on all gone-aways.

What is the average age of the data?

Most data companies state that their information is updated on a daily basis. Although this statement is correct it can be misleading with the actual age of marketing data varying considerably from 6 months to an incredible 3 years. By asking the average age of the database and taking into consideration the types of businesses and contacts you will be targeting, you will be able to be sure that the oldest record supplied will still be relevant to you. What to look for:
An average age of 6 months or less (ensure the figure they give is the average age, not the age of the last updated record).


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