A No-Nonsense Guide for Marketers Scouting Business Data Providers
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A No-Nonsense Guide for Marketers Scouting Business Data Providers

Nobody's got perfect data. Licensing limits, privacy rules, tech constraints — you'll run into roadblocks.
Primer team
Updated on
April 30, 2024
Published on
December 1, 2023
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Welcome to the wild world of business data, folks. You've got countless vendors all shouting that their info is the freshest and most valuable. The hype is over the top. Real talk, though? Nobody's got perfect data. Licensing limits, privacy rules, tech constraints — you'll run into roadblocks.

The key here is sifting out sources that fit your needs. Don't waste your budget and make rushed calls based on noise. If you might add or switch providers, step one is outlining a solid evaluation approach. We'll walk through the hype and assess data sources in a no-nonsense, straightforward manner. By the end of it, you'll master how to pinpoint your specific requirements, delve deep into providers' strengths and flaws, and make informed decisions that will drive growth.

Kick-Off With Your Unique Data Blueprint

Before you start evaluating vendors, you have to clearly define your use cases and what kind of data you need. This will help you figure out the core elements that any provider must have to make a real impact.

Typical needs often include:

  1. Outbound prospecting lists for initial engagement
  2. Firmographic enrichment (employee counts, revenue, etc.) to qualify inbound leads
  3. Direct contact data like verified work emails and phone numbers to reach decision-makers
  4. Niche elements like technology used, funding status, or recent news that indicate fit or intent

By going through this process, you create a blueprint of your specific business data requirements. It's important to document the key fields you need, the amount of coverage you require, and the critical use cases that the vendors must be able to support.

BTW, at Primer, we’ve covered the most common business data use cases with our videos. Check them out for guidance and examples.

Without this self-awareness, you run the risk of getting overwhelmed by incomplete or unnecessary data. So focus on the information that matters to your business goals. When you're assessing data sources, make sure they align with your blueprint.

You'll probably need one or two core providers that give you a broad range of  business data, and then you can supplement that with specialized niche sources. But don't go overboard — a lot of people end up spending way too much on data that doesn't provide much value. So figure out your must-haves first and ignore all the extra hype.

Now, doing this right takes time and some strategic thinking. But it's essential if you want to avoid buyer's remorse down the road.

Roll Up Your Sleeves and See What the Providers Got

Alright, moving on. You've defined what you need and mapped out what kind of  business data you're after. With that in order, you can get down to the business of scrutinizing your potential providers. Take a look at them in terms of these four biggies:

  1. ICP Universe Breadth: How much data do they have on your target customers?
  2. Field Depth: How much info they can give you across your must-have areas?
  3. Accuracy: Do they hit the bullseye on matching data in your priority areas?
  4. Contact Data Validity: Do they get the goods on email, phone, and other contact stuff?

Look beyond claims and guesses. Dig in and review actual samples of business data relevant to you, such as:

  • Test criteria that align with your ICP — think things like industry, annual revenue, and so on. Read our previous blog post on how to continuously refine and revise ICP.
  • Contact emails/numbers you know are accurate to test how good they are at enriching data.
  • Lists of domains to check out their scope and depth when it comes to enrichment.

By doing these tests, you'll get a good idea of how big their usable data universe is. Checking your verified contacts can show how accurate they are while comparing field completeness helps you to see where the gaps might be.

The goal is understanding strengths and limitations based on your needs — not generic boasts. Look past shiny pitches to make decisions grounded in facts. Huge headline stats mean little until you inspect under the hood.

You might find a give-and-take balance in some areas. For instance, some business data providers might give you wide coverage but use some guesswork, while others might leave unsure fields empty. Some might offer high validity at the cost of breadth. Don't expect them to be perfect in every direction — but by getting hands-on, you can measure what they really offer.

The Give-And-Take World of Business Data

Profiling providers from all angles reveals a basic truth: Data is always a game of trade-offs, not absolutes. There are trade-offs between factors like:

  • Total size vs. relevant depth for your ICP
  • High fill rates vs. a clean, hygienic data approach
  • Contact data validity vs. uniqueness and coverage
  • Precise accuracy vs. comprehensive coverage

No provider perfectly nails every metric. You have to decide what matters most to your business and unique data blueprint. Are you a high-velocity outbound machine that serves every different industry like Rippling? Then breadth is probably most important to you. Are you focused on the specific vertical and enterprise-only accounts? Then, you want depth and accuracy. Weigh vendors' shortcomings with those priorities in mind.

Another example is a business hitting hard on outbound may prioritize high email validity to limit wasted bucks from bounce-backs, even if that means sacrificing size.

A company that's all about lead scoring needs complete firmographic business data to feed its algorithms. So, they might accept a bit of uncertainty as part of the game just to avoid big, missing gaps in their data.

There's no one-size-fits-all answer here – just a series of compromises you’ve got to make to optimize your goals. Two providers can have opposite approaches but be equally valuable for different use cases.

By really understanding these inbuilt juggling acts providers perform, you can drill down on the strengths that align with your needs and take into account the weaknesses that don't disrupt your core actions.

The world of business data isn't black and white. It's a balancing act between what you need and what you can get. Don't try to get it all. Aim for what you need, and the rest will follow.

Finding the Big Picture with Various Data Sources

Given inherent trade-offs and imperfections in any single data provider, most businesses find value in layered, complementary sources. Each adds unique signals that together form a clearer picture.

Your foundational providers supply wide breadth and completeness across key fields like firmographics. Bolster this with niche business data vendors offering narrowly deep insights on elements like:

  • Technographics – Details on technologies used
  • Intent data – Research patterns indicating interest
  • News and events – Timely developments on companies
  • Social and web – Online presence and influence
  • Predictive models – Machine learning generated propensity scores
  • Validated contacts – Directly confirmed email/phone data

Putting together a diverse yet cohesive data stack takes work but prevents over-reliance on any single source. Holistic perspectives come from blending providers’ distinct strengths while accounting for their weaknesses.

This "ensemble modeling" philosophy ensures robustness during inevitable market changes. If one source declines, others provide coverage. And combining signals builds multifaceted views of customers. That’s why we recommend data enrichment for B2B audience prospecting.

With clear needs and trade-offs quantified, you can architect a balanced business data foundation tailored to your business goals. Mix core breadth with specialized depth. Just avoid fragmentation — ensure integration and alignment.

In other words, avoid putting all your eggs in one basket. Instead, build a strong basket of varied data sources that each brings something unique to the table. It's like having a versatile Swiss Army Knife instead of just a single-purpose tool: way more useful.

Making Smart Data Decisions to Drive Growth

Defining your needs, profiling vendors hands-on, and weighing trade-offs enable well-informed provider decisions to power growth. Let's look at some best practices:

Precisely Document Must-Have Uses, Fields, and Volumes

  • Lay out your specific business data use cases and necessary data elements (contact info, firmographics, etc.) on the table.
  • Count the number of coverage volumes you need to fulfill your use cases.
  • Update periodically as needs evolve – things change, and so should your doc!

Profile Vendors Rigorously Based on Your Requirements

  • Analyze breadth, depth, accuracy, and validity through tailored profiling.
  • Weigh the pros and cons across dimensions based on your prioritized needs — no one's perfect, but they can be perfect for you.
  • Push the generic claims and hype to the side – scrutinize with real business data, real numbers, and real results.

Assemble a Multidimensional Data Stack

  • Blend core providers and specialized sources to build a custom, multifaceted view of your customers.
  • Make sure new sources are pulling their weight by adding unique incremental value.
  • Maintain harmony across sources (unified IDs, taxonomies, etc.) — because nothing works when it's out of sync.

Continually Scrutinize Value and Refine Your Mix

  • Keep checking on performance – are the datasets driving the impact you need?
  • Say goodbye to underperforming business data sources and always be on the lookout to test new providers.
  • Make sure your stack stays aligned with evolving use cases and business objectives – think of it as regular maintenance.

With a meticulous, evidence-based approach, B2B brands can cut through the noise and build data foundations that deliver tangible ROI. Don't settle for assumptions — use facts and hands-on profiling to give your unique data strategy the competitive edge it needs.

Separating Signals from Noise for Data-Driven Rock Stars

Scoring high-impact B2B business data requires tuning out the noise and soaking in the signals by getting analytical and structured. Steps we've covered include:

  • Clearly defining your specific use cases and business data requirements upfront
  • Getting hands-on with source profiling based on your needs –forget claims and perceptions
  • Understanding the natural trade-offs the game offers to pick providers strategically
  • Joining the band and playing different instruments – a.k.a assembling a multidimensional stack with core breadth and niche depth
  • Forever refining your mix as needs evolve — auditing value, making adjustments, keep rocking!

With realistic expectations, a tendency to rely on evidence over marketing speak, and a dogged focus on genuine business impact, B2B brands can cut through the hype to lay a solid data foundation.

Perfect scores will forever remain elusive .However, pragmatic business data strategies focused on boosting growth are very much within reach by following the approaches covered here. Take control of your data, assess thoroughly, and filter noise to extract real signals.

Use Primer to Keep B2B Audience Data Complete and Actionable

Adopt Primer as a single source of truth for your go-to-market teams:

  • Ensure data freshness and completeness by pulling together data points from multiple data providers at a time
  • Enrich audience data from your CRM to unlock personalized 1:1 email outbound and reach target accounts on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Google Ads.
  • Maximize match rates on paid channels with the Audience Build Report feature.

With Primer’s flexible functionality, you can align your data stack use with business objectives real quickly. Go ahead and request a live Primer demo to try it out.

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