How to Choose the Right B2B Data Provider

How to Choose the Right B2B Data Provider

There's no one-size-fits-all when it comes to data providers.
Jonah Katz
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Data is the fuel that powers a company’s revenue engine. Without it, marketers and salespeople would be flying blind. And, using data in the most effective way for your GTM engine starts with choosing the right data provider.

This guide will give you an overview of the B2B data space, along with questions to ask a potential data provider and how to differentiate one from the other. In this article, we provided a short comparison between a few different data providers, so check it out as well!

First, What Is a B2B Data Provider?

The term “data provider” describes a wide array of business services. Sales prospecting lists, contact info enrichment, intent, data hygiene, CRM management—these are just some of the things modern data providers provide. In the early days of B2B marketing, data providers were mostly focused on selling contact information. Now, the industry has quickly evolved to allow for entire sales and marketing teams to work in tandem to define their ICP, build targeted campaigns, and engage with highly qualified prospects.

In spite of what most data providers will tell you, there is rarely a one-size-fits-all solution for any business. Different providers have different strengths. Whether or not a certain provider will fit your needs depends on the type of data you need, the industry your prospects operate in, each provider’s feature set and so much more.

If you're starting to think about purchasing a B2B data provider, think about your goals. Are you looking to enhance your current database? Are you testing out a hypothesis?  Later in this piece, we dive deeper into a few questions to ask yourself before settling on a data provider.

Types of B2B Data

Generally, there are three types of B2B data: Fit Data, Market Intelligence Data, and Opportunity Data.

Fit Data: This is basic demographic, firmographic and product/service data. Fit data provides an opportunity for marketers to target their campaigns based on the company’s size, location and industry. This information may be collected either by a third party or directly from an organization’s website. It typically covers the following attributes:

Location Industry Job Titles
Technologies Founding Year Headcount

Market Intelligence Data: Market intelligence allows marketers to gain insight into a particular audience’s interests, which in turn helps them develop more effective campaigns. This includes some of the following data points:

Marketing engagement Web page views Attended events
Keyword searches Reverse-IP website visitors

Opportunity data: This type of data can help you identify favorable conditions for your company to act on and encompasses some of the below attributes:

Promotions Mergers & acquisitions Product launches

Why Do I Need A B2B Data Provider?

To reach the right prospects, B2B companies need to have access to a wide range of data. In addition, using multiple data sources helps B2B companies stay informed about their industry's latest trends, identify buyer behavior patterns, and accelerate sales. Also, by using multiple data sources, B2B companies gain unprecedented insight into their buyers' needs and buying process.

Here at Primer, we find that companies tend to search for a B2B data provider for one (or more) of the following reasons:

  • The desire to generate a custom ad audience for LinkedIn, Facebook or Google.
  • A need to arm sales with prospects for outbound email or cold calling
  • You're hoping to enrich inbound leads or records in your CRM with missing data
  • You want to identify which prospects are the best fit for your product and/or are potentially in-market to buy

Here’s an example of how one might use data to acquire customers more effectively:

Let's say that you're a B2B marketer at a financial services SaaS company looking to grow revenue from CFOs at other B2B SaaS companies located in the United States and Canada. A great place to start is by identifying which companies have recently hired CFOs —these companies might be good places for you to focus your efforts as new leaders are more likely to be evaluating new solutions.

The more up-to-date and accurate business data you use in your sales and marketing activities, the more likely you’ll achieve success. The reason is simple – with current, accurate data, your GTM teams won’t waste time targeting and speaking to the wrong people.

How To Evaluate a B2B Data Provider

There are so many B2B data providers out there, all making claims about having the most up-to-date and accurate data. How do you know which one is right for your business?  

There are a number of things you can do to get an accurate assessment of a B2B data provider’s data. The first thing is to know how you plan to use it. Once you have a clear idea of what you want, run a test to get a number of fresh, relevant complete records that meet your target audience criteria. Evaluate if the contacts meet your specific needs based on the following criteria:

  • Coverage: How many records the data provider can return for your target audience criteria; not how many total records they say they have (e.g. 245 million). Your addressable market is unlikely to be 245 million right now.
  • Volume: Whether or not the contacts from a data provider match your target audience criteria and how relevant the database attributes are to your ICP.
  • Fill Rate: Examine how complete the records are. Assess the fields available, including details about each person's job title, work email address, phone number and social media accounts. Look at the fill rate of these fields. Is LinkedIn profile URL populated for 40% of records, 60%, 99%?
  • Accuracy & Freshness: Finally, examine the data freshness. Ideally, the information should be less than 30 days old (and most B2B data providers will let you know how long each field has been updated).

At Primer, we evaluate a B2B data provider each of these axes.  


It's important to look beyond the purse size of the database when evaluating B2B data providers. You want to know about the specific coverage within your ICP. Different providers have different coverage strengths.

A good B2B data provider will provide significant coverage, or number of records, with which to build and enrich your ICP. If possible, you can and should test this in your evaluation. Sign up for the product or provide specific criteria to your sales rep and get counts back.

Fill Rate

Certain attributes may matter A LOT to you. For example, if you qualify your ICP on total amount of fundraising or your outbound outreach process is heavily dependent on LinkedIn messaging, you need to assess the fill rate of specific attributes. Fill rate refers to the completeness of a company record in a database. Divide the number of records in the specific column and divide it by the the total number of records in your list.

Here at Primer, we recommend looking for data providers with attribute fill rates in the range of 80% or greater for key attributes like LinkedIn Profile URL, title, headcount, etc. s, for example, that a field such as ‘work email’ will be populated on a record greater than 80% of the time.

Accuracy and Freshness

Accuracy is tricky in B2B data. There is no 100% source of truth for what accuracy is. For example, LinkedIn has profiles attached to a company’s LinkedIn page of people who are not actually employees. So if the number of employees reported from a data provider differs from LinkedIn, which is accurate? In practice, a GTM team should be thinking in terms of employee count ranges not an absolute value for # of employees. There is no 100% correct absolute value.

However, when evaluating data providers if you see significant discrepancy between what you perceive the source of truth to be (e.g. LinkedIn), then you should be concerned. If a job title is not accurate with LinkedIn, pause. If number of employees is off big a significant margin, pause.

At Primer, we find that the best way to evaluate a data provider’s coverage capabilities is to request a sample of data and compare it against your source of truth. If it is accurate and recent within an acceptable margin of error, you're ok. Ideally, this data should also have a refresh rate of at least 1x a month (30 days).

How to Choose the B2B Data Provider That’s Right For You

Typically, data providers either have broad-based people and company data that often serves as a “base data set” or are more niche providers that provide very specific data on attributes.

What data provider you choose to work with depends on whether you want a broad swathe of data or you find it more valuable to go after a very small niche.  

B2B Data Providers Image

In terms of breadth and depth, we like to use a combination of both such sources to give us the highest quality data. We’ve included a helpful visual below to further illustrate the point. The providers on the left are the “breadth” providers and the ones on the right are niche providers categorized by their specific data attributes.

Want to build your ad audiences using the B2B data from multiple data providers? Try Primer FOR FREE!

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