At whoiswhere, we get asked all the time what makes our business data so special. So we’ve decided to break it down on our blog through a “How to” guide of what questions you should ask when purchasing a list, and the type of response you should hear.
Question 1: Where does your data come from?
Any quality data provider should be able to easily tell you where they get their data from. Answers may vary but a good provider has proactively collected the data specifically for the database. By doing this the provider is able to give some guarantee of the completeness and quality of their data. Since having a legitimate data source is the foundation for a quality database, this is a key question to ask.
For example, the data we use in our whoiswhere database has originally been collected, quite literally, by walking down the street and writing down who is where. Now as you can imagine, walking the streets is a pain in the neck. But it does mean have confidence in our data source.
Answers that don’t inspire confidence are: we’ve taken it from a public directory, because sadly those are not maintained very well. Worst of all you don’t want some nonsense response that doesn’t clearly answer your question!
So the next time you want business data to embrace a new target market, reach everyone in a particular industry or simply want to clean your data – discover where their data is coming from and make sure you work with experts in the field.
Question 2: How often is it updated?
The responses vary from daily to annually. The reality is daily updates do not mean up-to-date data, unless data verification is carried out on a continuous basis. Even then, claiming daily changes is somewhat misleading because all the information is never checked daily. See more about this in the next question.
So what about an annual or bi-annual check? This is simply not enough. The rate of change is such that even three times a year data verification adopted by us, is not sufficient for certain pockets of the market. In some cases verification on the phone every 45 days is necessary.
Question 3: How accurate is your data?
Many boast about up-to-date data, but rarely do they disclose what steps they take to achieve it. Lets face it, when you deal with hundreds of thousands of records it’s truly impossible to keep them all 100% up-to-date on a daily basis. Simply because companies may close literally overnight, people leave business, or even die, businesses move unexpectedly or at short notice.
So even when someone on our team checks company details on the phone, 5 minutes after the phone conversation, a major change in company details may occur, and it will take sometimes months before this change will get on to the website or will become public knowledge.
Of course you might believe in the power of the internet and the possibility of on-going crawling through websites to check and update information. There are three main reasons why this approach is only half-helpful. These three reasons are not widely known, even though they are somewhat obvious:
- In New Zealand, for example, at least 35% companies do not have a website – nothing to crawl!
- Website information does not get updated on a regular basis. In fact our phone research shows that 37% of company information we can find online turns out to be incorrect.
- Vital company contact details and names of owners/executives are not readily available. This includes companies with no contact details except a standard contact us form, companies that are not registered and have no names of owners on their website. The number of these is on the rise and according to our conservative estimate over 60% of websites do not have names of owners or any contact details at all.
Discover at what length we are going to ensure accuracy of data – as far as we know very few companies take data maintenance this seriously.
When you find a company which owns their B2B data, is able to explain how data is collected and maintained, and update it all on a regular basis – be rest assured you are on to a winner – that’s the company to work with.