This is part 3 of our blog series on data enrichment. Feel free to catch up if you missed the first two posts, Introducing the Data Enrichment 101 Series, and Determining the Processes the Data Will Support, for data enrichment tips.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, we’ll keep on repeating that there is no one perfect database good for every company. This is perhaps the most important thing to understand as it’s the most critical factor in determining the success or failure of your data enrichment project. A good first step is identifying the data providers whose database has good coverage for your customer profiles. Therefore, before you can evaluate data providers, you must first have a deep understanding of your customers and ideal prospects.
Here are the key dimensions you must precisely define:
1. Business or Consumer
This one is the most obvious, but also the most important. Depending on whether you’re a B2B or B2C company, you have a completely different set of data providers who serve your needs. B2B data includes firmographic, technographic, and contact data. B2C data is often referred to as consumer data or audience data.
2. Company Size
Do you sell to large enterprise, mid-size enterprise, or small businesses? Some providers specialize in large enterprise and others focus on the smaller companies. It’s not sufficient to just use a generic label like those mentioned earlier. Be very specific in your definition of company size and quantify it. For example, a mid-size enterprise is 200 to 500 employees; annual revenue is $100 million to $1 billion, or properties with over 1,000 beds. We haven’t seen a data provider that has equally good data on Fortune 500 companies such as Apple and Exxon and small mom and pop businesses like the cafe and nail salon in your local strip mall.
If you have a strategic focus selling into specific sectors, you must include this in your data provider selection criteria. Some industry data is only available from specialized data providers, and not from general-purpose data providers. For example, data about the number of beds in a hospital or the average occupancy rate of a hotel property is not available in most general-purpose databases.
4. Job Function / Department
What departments do you sell into: IT, HR, Finance, or Marketing? Many database providers who focus on large enterprises also focus heavily on IT buyers.
5. Job Level / Seniority
Determine the prospect’s job level within the company. Are they C-level, executive, director, manager, or an individual contributor? Many data providers focus on decision makers and budget owners, so the data quality and coverage for senior people may be much better than other job levels. However, if you sell a SaaS product to developers and heavily rely on freemium and free-trial for lead generations, even the IT focused database providers may not have the data you need to reach programmers and system administrators.
Most data providers have very good coverage for the United States and Canada. The coverage is often not as good in Western Europe, and can get even worse in Asia, Australia, South America, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East. To solve this issue, there are regional data providers that excel in specific regions outside of North America and Western Europe. This is one of the most common reasons why you may need multiple data providers.
7. Source of Data
Data providers use a multitude of methods, channels, and technologies to acquire their data. Some of the most common means are:
- Crawling the web, specifically social media and forum sites
- Acquiring subscriber database from magazine, newspaper, and other media publishers
- Crawling government open-data sites, specifically for secretary of state filings
- Crowdsourcing via manual entry, address book scraping, email scraping, or business card scanning
- Manual research
Depending on your ideal customer profile, some of these methods would yield better results than others.