// How To Spot Bad UK B2B Data Before You Get Stung
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  • Clare Tweed

How to spot bad email data – why poor B2B data costs money

There are two ways you can start email marketing for your company. With one, you’re guaranteed to avoid getting bad email data. With the other, there is a serious risk that your business’s image will be put at risk through the use of poor email data.


Why choose email marketing? Effective marketing emails convert potential customers much more quickly than inbound marketing and they help you to build a long-term loyal customer base. Email marketing is remarkably effective for making announcements and sharing updates especially on new products and services.


More Than Words note - on this page, we’re just discussing paid-for B2B email databases from third parties. B2C email databases are a legal and regulatory nightmare and you should exercise the utmost caution before purchasing one.


Effective email data versus bad email data


When deciding to use email marketing, many organisations focus on growing their email database through organic methods like landing pages or contact forms on their website. It takes a lot of time to build these lists up but each potential customer has self-selected to be on your database.


The other way is to take a short-cut and to buy a database in from a supplier like More Than Words. You choose the line of businesses you want to target, the size of company, and geographical area. All being well, the data you purchase is accurate, up-to-date, and GDPR compliant.


If it’s not, then this bad data not only puts your website and email server at risk of being shut down. Since the introduction of GDPR in 2018, you may also attract the attention of regulators whose ultimate punishment may be public shaming of your organisation and a large fine.


More Than Words may be a relatively new company but our directors, account managers, and dispatch teams have been in the business since 1998. We work strictly to GDPR guidelines and, first and foremost, we protect our customers’ hard-earned and well-deserved reputations.


In this article, we will cover:


  • building your email audience

  • buying email data

  • how to tell if email data is poor quality

  • inaccurate email data

  • inconsistent email data

  • non-compliant email data

  • disorganised email data

  • choosing a reputable data provider


Building your email audience


As mentioned earlier, you can choose to either:


  • build your own email list using your existing customer data and inbound marketing efforts to collect new emails from people who have opted in, or

  • you can buy a database.


When you build your own list, a prospect or a suspect usually voluntarily gives you their email address usually online when they’re at your website or by giving it to you at an event or whilst networking. Without doubt, these are the highest quality email addresses (as measured by likelihood of making a future purchase) because they chose to share their details with you.


You could also just buy an email list – this is a pre-prepared database contains contact names, company names, email addresses, company information and more.


Ideally you should do both. But, when purchasing data from a third party, what do you need to be aware of?


Buying data


Buying data is the key to running an effective mass email broadcast. Finding a provider that has information on your target audience is difficult and finding a high-quality provider to do so can be problematic in an industry which has been plagued by non-compliant bedroom operators for years.


More Than Words note – we never speak badly of our competition. There are dozens of superb data owners and brokers in the UK (ourselves included we like to think) – this is a competitive market and you’re spoilt for choice. However, non-compliant bedroom operators have been ripping off clients for decades by providing ancient data which has led to financial and reputational damage to innocent companies just looking for a bargain (albeit naively sometimes).


Following the introduction of GDPR, you can only contact organisations which are registered as a separate legal entity (limited company, PLCs, public sector bodies, charities, and so on). This means that sole traders and partnerships cannot be legally contacted without them opting in first because, under GDPR, this is considered to be personal data.


B2B databases should include a variety of different contact methods including postal addresses and phone numbers as well as email addresses. High-quality B2B email data helps a business contact potential customers efficiently and quickly and, once you’ve paid for the data, transmission costs to run extra campaigns are low.


Some of the sorting categories available include:


  • Geographic Area

  • Industry

  • Number of Employees

  • Turnover


Having marketing data that works for the company reduces the amount of time it takes for the sales department to make a sale. Quality marketing data coupled with a compelling email design tailored to the hopes and pain points of your audience produces outstanding and urgent leads to follow-up.


How to tell if email data is poor quality


Inaccurate data


Inaccurate data is arguably the hardest deficiency to identify in any database. When data is inaccurate, it usually looks exactly the same as what accurate data would look like. For example, a mistyped phone number will have the same number of digits as an accurate number.


If there are lots of errors in one field, there is likely to be a problem with the entire database. Names, addresses, phone numbers, and number IDs also each be wrong and this will cause significant issues when conducting marketing campaigns.


More Than Words jargon dictionary – a “field” is a column on a spreadsheet which might contain, for example, a company’s registered number. If most of all of the cells in that column contain registered numbers, there is good “coverage”. If most cells in a field are empty, there is “poor coverage”. Some information is harder to get than others during the data gathering process and when it’s more difficult, the coverage in a field is less likely to be as complete.


Common problems include:


  • names - a misspelled name could cause significant offense on behalf of the receiver and it diminishes your company reputation because a recipient may believe that, if you make an error with their name, what other errors might you be making?

  • emails - an email address containing an error in it will bounce. The higher the number of bounces, the lower the rates of opening and it could also potentially blacklist your IP because it might be seen as a source of spam.

  • addresses - if an address isn't spelled correctly, any postal marketing you send them likely won’t reach your target. If there are enough errors in a postal marketing campaign, the cost can run into thousands and the opportunity cost of lost business may be even more expensive.


Incomplete data


Sometimes, there may be “poor coverage” on a database. There could be poor coverage on the line of business of the companies listed, the contact names, the email addresses, and so on. This may cause serious issues as the companies which would be interested in your product or service would be missed from any search you run on the database.


The main problem this causes is the mismanagement of leads. These include:


  • Emailing the wrong potential customer – if a different director is responsible for purchasing the products or services you are trying to sell, emailing the wrong contact will mean that your mail is never seen by the decision maker you require.

  • Missing potential customers - Clients which haven't been picked up in the search will never hear about your product. If this is the case, customers who may actually be in the market right now will never be worked on by your sales team.

  • Overgeneralisation - If you choose to email those who don't have a listed industry, for example, open rates may be very poor or, at the very worst, your emails may be labelled as spam and your website and email server reduced.


According to Dun & Bradstreet, incomplete data causes a fifth of firms to miss out on potential new customers and revenue. In a survey, 20% of respondents claimed that they had lost a customer due to using incomplete information. Another 15% said that incomplete data had been the cause of failure to sign up a new contact.


When purchasing an email list, choose the data provider which has the most complete data set for your target audience. Make sure to check with multiple companies about the quality of information they have and the coverage.


Non-compliant data


Non-compliant data refers to data which doesn't follow the recently-introduced GDPR regulations. Signed into law on 25 May 2018 by the European Parliament and still in force in post-Brexit Britain, the legislation is designed to give people much more control over their own personal data.


For data providers, the main issue is the poor filtering out of sole traders and partnerships from the data. Although you might want to target them for business reasons, sole traders’ and partners’ contact data is considered personal and not corporate.


This can cause a variety of problems, including:


  • economic - large fines are imposed by the courts for GDPR breaches. Fines may be up to 20 million euros or 4% of a company’s total global annual turnover whichever is higher. The fine actually levied is based on how serious the violation is so overuse of non-compliant data may be a very expensive mistake.

  • reputational - If you don't comply with GDPR, your reputation with the businesses you are contacting will likely drop. A business will not want to work with you if you are using unethical and illegal tactics in your email campaign.

  • commercial - If you can't prove that the data you are using is fully compliant, there has been a lack of due diligence. This can cause the chance for issues down the line which, left undiscovered, will cause serious problems.


In the first year of following GDPR’s introduction, over €56 million of fines was charged following investigations into 200,000 companies. The main recipient was Google which was charged €50 million.


It is best to not take the risk of being fined and facing litigation by choosing a data provider who can assure you with confidence that the data has been sourced legally. Researching the company thoroughly beforehand should also help mitigate this risk.


Disorganised data


Disorganised data is data which has been poorly sorted when added to the database. It is similar to inaccurate information except the inaccuracies are found in the actual categorisation of the fields of data.


Disorganised data can cause significant issues throughout the email marketing experience:


  • mislabelled gender - this can easily cause offense but is often unnecessary to include if you have a first name.

  • poorly labelled regional information – misclassification or region or country may lead to your company contacting prospects outside your desired areas. Likewise, companies which are inside your sales territory may not be contacted.

  • Irrelevant data - some datasets could include data that are not necessary for your purposes. This can result in confusion if data lists multiple ways to categorise industry – try to be as specific with your provider as possible.


To avoid the risk of being supplied with disorganised data, it's important to precisely relay your needs to your data provider. If the data is full of errors and they are unable to correct them, you are working with a poor email data supplier.


Choosing a reputable data provider


There are so many potential issues that could negatively impact your email marketing campaign. You have to rely on the information that has been given to you and, if you can't, then there are significant risks in using the data you’ve been provided with.


More than Words Marketing handles both data and email campaigns to help you at all stages with email marketing for your company.

As part of every database we sell, we also include an email design and three email broadcasts to help you generate sales and to demonstrate to you that our data is reputable and useful.


To ensure that the campaigns are successful, we provide full reports after the send showing you open rates, clickthroughs, and the number of successful deliveries. We’re also able to let you know how many times individual recipients have opened and clicked through to your email – this is a strong indication that they are in the right part of the buying cycle.


To speak to us about email data, call us on 0330 010 8300 or email clare@morethanwordsuk.co.uk

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