What is B2B Contact Data & How to Use It

B2B contact data - The fuel for the Business Development Engine

B2B contact data are lists of companies, including e-mail addresses of the contact persons working at those companies that are used by other companies to get in contact with those other businesses. Companies small and large, local and international, from all sorts of industries are looking to get into contact with other companies to sell their products & services or establish meaningful business partnerships. Usually, the first contact between companies nowadays happens remotely, via phone or email. B2B contact data providers help companies to get access to their desired partner organization.

What is B2B contact data for and who uses it?

There are loads of use cases for B2B contact data. Usually it’s being used by marketing and sales organizations, as they need access to a high quantity and quality of B2B contacts. Marketing organizations can leverage the contact lists for their lead qualification and scoring purposes. Email campaigns can be executed with higher speed and marketers are able to push personalized content and messages to business leads based on the different attributes, such as company size, country, the title of the contact person and so on. Sales teams need contact information to fill their pipelines. Managers can also generate valuable business intelligence insights for future marketing campaigns and sales outreaches by combining contact datasets with others, such as intent data. This enrichment process will create leads which are highly qualified and have a high probability to convert.

What are the typical B2B Contact Data attributes?

B2B contacts consist of various attributes. The need for specific elements is often dependent on the use case, for example whether the outreach happens over the phone or via email. That’s why the data buyer should know its objective beforehand. At the moment, we see many buyers searching for b2b email lists and decision maker’s phone numbers.

Often, relevant business contact data attributes are the company size (number of employees, annual revenue, annual profit) the company industry (ideally mapped to the SIC code), the company geography (region, country, state, city, zip code). Some might argue that these attributes relate to firmographics, which is true. The two data types are often intertwined and/or used together. Depending on the use case, at least one direct contact person should be assigned to each company. For that person, you want to have a full name, honorifics (Mr., Mrs., Dr.) the e-mail address, the position in the company (VP of marketing, CTO) and mostly optional the phone number. The variety of attributes you are able to collect for that contact person will play directly to the quality of outreach you will be able to perform.

How are B2B Contact Datasets collected?

When it comes to collecting B2B contacts, data providers use various methodologies to fill their B2B database. Primary data collection sources for data aggregators in the B2B field are trade shows, events, conferences, government records and listings, annual reports, B2B directory partnerships, business and trade magazine subscriptions and many more. Other data collection sources may be websites, blogs, opt-ins from email marketing campaigns or surveys and feedback forms. While data collection from tradeshows and events can count for a lot of manual labor. Online web scraping for contact information is more scalable and has become common practise among third party data aggregators.

What any potential data buyer should know up-front is whether their data provider pulls the contacts out of a static contact list or if they run real-time processes to validate the accuracy of the data sets. Data providers that run real-time verification often can guarantee a higher data quality than vendors that don’t.

How to start the data acquisition process?

When looking to acquire a database of company contacts, your organization needs to be internally aligned on several questions:

  • What data attributes do we need?
  • Who will use this data?
  • What is the purpose of this data?
  • How much data do we actually need?
  • What is our budget for acquiring this data?
  • Will we need this data only once or are we looking for a long-term partnership with a data provider?

Taking the time to think about these questions is critical as it helps you find the best data vendor for your specific needs. Once those questions are answered, you should define the potential ROI of the contact data acquisition. This will also help your organization to justify the budget internally. You can use the ROI to benchmark dataset quality; Are these contacts relevant for our business, do they drive ROI? Do they match our ideal customer profile?

What challenges to expect when buying B2B contact data?

A challenge that many looking to acquire B2B contact data often face in the first place is identifying data providers that offer B2B contact data. This often takes a lot of manpower and is a costly process for companies. Once relevant data providers are identified, the next challenge is to check whether their data offering matches with your current needs. For example, if the data provider does not have information about your industry, they obviously are not the right one for you. Therefore, you should definitely request a sample from each data vendor that you are considering to engage in a partnership with.

How to evaluate the quality of the B2B contact data?

Quality means a great deal. In a recent survey of marketing and sales directors of B2B companies, 50% said they were not confident in their B2B contact data quality and only 11% said they were extremely confident. This lack trust of data quality undermines the potential business impact that marketing and sales departments can get from contact lists. Additionally it was found that B2B contact data decays every month by 2.1% in light of the natural turnover that occurs in companies. That turnover is even higher for middle management. Research found that up to 25% of contact data sets can be flawed. There are 3 most common aspects that negatively affect the data quality of B2B contacts:

Invalid data
A typical attribute that is prone to be invalid in B2B contact data are office location, as the specific contact may be sitting in a local office and not at the company’s HQs. Also, company size or revenue measures may be inaccurate if not regularly updated. Employee turnover additionally leads to invalid data of B2B contacts as already mentioned.

Missing data
When fields in the database remain empty it affects filtering through the database and creating sub-sets massively. Let’s take a marketing campaign for example, that is targeted at specific company industries, but when those data are missing for a high percentage of entries, it reduces the impact of the campaign tremendously. Similarly, business intelligence cannot derive as much value when analyzing and dissecting the contact list for different attributes.

Duplicate data
This error can be defined by having the same contact repeated in the table. This is an issue for marketing organizations because it could lead to the same person receiving the message twice. Often times, duplicate data comes from poor formatting, where the same company could have different spellings, e.g. Nestle and Nestlé or Procter & Gamble and P&G. The cost associated with those duplicates comes from manually going through the database and filtering out the duplicates which could justify choosing a different provider and paying a higher price for better quality.

To evaluate the offering of the data provider you should definitely ask for a sample for your required data attributes. If the data vendor does not provide one, this can be a sign of poor quality. Besides asking for a sample, a list of reference customers of the data provider can be a good indicator of quality. Ask for a name and contact information for the reference.

How is B2B Contact Data Priced?

You can find multiple pricing models in the data market. Pricing depends often on the nature of the use case you are having in your hands. Options vary from monthly, quarterly or annual licensing fees to pay per batch and custom quotes. We see custom quotes being commonly provided to large enterprises. While the prices for B2B contact data can vary a lot, depending on the region, the seniority of the contacts, the quality, and many other factors, $1 could get you as many as 4 B2B contacts that your growth teams can leverage in their daily work.

Question to ask your B2B conact data provider?

  • Which attributes of B2B contact data does your dataset cover?
  • How and where do you gather the data sets?
  • How do you guarantee the quality of the data?
  • How do you integrate with our current CRM technologies? (e.g Pipedrive, Salesofrce)

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