How to Select the Perfect B-to-B Data Vendor

Most B-to-B marketers rely on customer data from third party suppliers. But how do you choose among the myriad of data providers out there? Use this handy checklist of criteria, organized into three categories: the data product itself, the surrounding services that will help you get the most value from the data and the factors that suggest the vendor will be a satisfactory business partner for your company. To get started, you need to identify your business and marketing objectives. Let’s look at this process in detail.

Most B-to-B marketers rely on customer data from third-party suppliers. But how do you choose among the myriad of data providers out there?  Use this handy checklist of criteria, organized into three categories: the data product itself, the surrounding services that will help you get the most value from the data and the factors that suggest the vendor will be a satisfactory business partner for your company. To get started, you need to identify your business and marketing objectives. Let’s look at this process in detail.

First, clarify your marketing objectives for the data. If you are going for customer acquisition, your data needs will be different from those for retention goals. Here are some examples.

chart1Next, prepare a detailed analysis of each segment you are trying to understand or communicate with. This will allow you to assess your data needs with precision and avoid buying what you don’t really need. Most companies are targeting a variety of audience segments, based on variables such as customer product needs and customer profitability.

Criteria for Vendor Evaluation

Only you can determine which criteria are most important for your business. I suggest you pick a handful of primary criteria that you deem essential to your company and marketing objectives. Then pick a few secondary criteria that you might consider “nice to have.”

This list will help you ask vendor candidates the right questions to make sure they can meet your needs.

The Data Product

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Services Surrounding the Data

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Characteristics of the Vendor Company

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The world of data vendors is a crowded one. Each vendor has its own strengths, specialization and culture. Your due diligence will pay off with a productive partnership that will take your marketing programs to the next level.

This article is excerpted from “How to Select a Data Vendor That is a Perfect Fit for Your Marketing Objectives,” a new white paper available from Infogroup.  A version of this article appeared in Biznology, the digital marketing blog.

Author: Ruth P. Stevens

Ruth P. Stevens consults on customer acquisition and retention, and teaches marketing at companies and business schools around the world. She is past chair of the DMA Business-to-Business Council, and past president of the Direct Marketing Club of New York. Ruth was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in Business Marketing by Crain's BtoB magazine, and one of 20 Women to Watch by the Sales Lead Management Association. She is the author of Maximizing Lead Generation: The Complete Guide for B2B Marketers, and Trade Show and Event Marketing. Ruth serves as a director of Edmund Optics, Inc. She has held senior marketing positions at Time Warner, Ziff-Davis, and IBM and holds an MBA from Columbia University.

Ruth is a guest blogger at Biznology, the digital marketing blog. Email Ruth at ruth@ruthstevens.com, follow her on Twitter at @RuthPStevens, or visit her website, www.ruthstevens.com.

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