Pop quiz: Buying B2B lead lists or email lists from third-party B2B data providers is a great way to save time and reach potential new customers — true or false?
And the right answer is… it depends. We’re sure you knew that!
Choosing to buy B2B lead lists from B2B data or list providers is a smart move to generate demand beyond your existing contact database.
Yet, for 54% of B2B businesses, it’s the lack of data quality that’s holding them back from marketing success.
Not all lead lists are created equal, and buying the wrong list can not only waste your time and budget, but also damage your brand’s reputation.
In this blog, we’ll go through the dos and don’ts when buying lead lists from B2B data providers to help you make the most of this marketing tactic.
First, how do B2B data providers collect and sell lead lists?
If you’re new to this industry, let’s quickly unpack how data providers and lead generation agencies actually collect and sell lead lists.
B2B data providers use a variety of methods to collect leads for their lead lists. Some common methods include:
- Web scraping to extract data from websites (e.g. public records and social media platforms where users share their information) using software tools
- Data aggregation to collect data from multiple sources and compile it into a single database
- Opt-in subscription to collect contact data directly from consented consumers through methods like online forms, surveys conducted during events or campaigns, or users’ personal accounts
You can see how varied these methods are — and the quality of contact data that comes from each method.
Alternatively, think of these sources as zero-party, first-party, second-party and third-party data
To make sense of it all, we like to think of these data types in terms of their proximity from the source. In other words, whether the contact data is a zero-party, first-party, second-party, or third-party source.
The nearer the data’s origin is from the consumer, the more dependable and accurate it becomes.
For instance, when a consumer voluntarily submits their information by creating an account, that info is considered zero-party data. There’s a good chance that you’ll be able to use that information to get in touch with the consumer.
Conversely, when a company collects a consumer’s information through web scraping from social media platforms, that info is categorized as third-party data.
Third-party data sources typically have a higher rate of data decay. So if you’re buying and using that data to run email marketing campaigns, you might end up with lower deliverability rates than usual.
A good rule of thumb is to prioritize zero-party and first-party data sources whenever you’re collecting contact data from a data provider.
To learn more on this topic, check out our comprehensive review of the best B2B data providers we know and trust in 2023.
See the 10 B2B data providers we trust
Otherwise, let’s start with the four things you need to avoid when buying a B2B email list.
1— DON’T ignore data privacy laws and compliance regulations.
While oversight of data privacy law and compliance regulations may have been lax in the past, they’re much stricter today.
Regulations such as General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CCPA) require explicit consent for data usage. Even consumers themselves have avenues of recourse if their data is shared without their consent.
According to an Insider Intelligence survey of marketers worldwide, 4 out of 5 were worried their technology vendors had the potential to put them at risk of violating the EU’s GDPR.
It can be challenging to create compliant B2B data lists that maintain today’s wide range of data privacy and compliance regulations. But failing to do so can be costly. Non-compliance can result in legal issues and damage to your reputation.
In fact, many companies are feeling the pain of noncompliance:
Amazon was fined $877 million in the U.S. for the way it collects and shares data via cookies.
Zoom had to pay $85 million to settle claims that it lied about offering end-to-end encryption and gave user data to Facebook and Google without users’ consent.
Advertising standards are constantly being refined, so staying on top of data privacy laws and compliance is a must.
That means reaching out to experts in the legal field for guidance, always asking permission to use data, and double-checking that your B2B data lists follow all the rules.
2— DON’T use out of date, incomplete, or unverified email lists.
Data becomes obsolete very fast. It’s estimated that 70% of companies experience data decay every year.
Data decay usually occurs naturally over time, especially if companies don’t follow good data hygiene practices or source for lower quality contact data in the first place.
The impacts of B2B data decay include incorrect, incomplete, and outdated email addresses in your contact list. These errors can waste up to 70% of an organization’s prospecting efforts.
Avoid buying email lists that haven’t been updated and verified regularly. Inspect if the B2B data provider has regular data cleansing and verification procedures to identify and remove outdated, incorrect, or invalid email addresses.
Psst, hit the link to claim your trial to ViB’s flagship B2B demand generation services today. You’ll gain access to B2B lead lists maintained with scrupulous data hygiene so they are free of data decay.
3— DON’T buy leads lists from providers who rely mostly on second-party and third-party data sources.
As we mentioned briefly earlier, there are four sources of consumer data.
- Zero-party: Consumers actively and freely share their personal data.
- First-party: A company collects data that includes consumers’ direct actions, such as on a website or in social media.
- Second-party: Partners or sellers share their first-party data with other entities.
- Third-party: Aggregators collect data through various unaffiliated sources and resell it.
Zero-party and first-party data sources are ideal for creating high-quality B2B email lists. But gaining direct access to consumers is tricky.
That’s why data providers often use second-party or third-party data sources. It’s much easier for them to harvest and sell volumes of data by mining public sources or third-party data repositories.
Our top tip is to partner with different data providers that specialize in different types of consumer data.
So, for example, your marketing mix could include vendors like ViB to generate sales ready leads with zero-party contact data, Leadfeeder for first-party data enrichment, and Zoominfo for their data cleaning tech and third-party data.
4— DON’T evaluate B2B lead lists from third-party sources based on price alone.
When it comes to purchasing B2B lead lists, too many companies go straight to the bottom line — in other words, cost savings.
We know it’s tempting, but hold back! You risk incurring the old proverb: you get what you pay for.
Poor-quality data can lead to wasted time and money, as well as negative impacts on your business reputation. On the other hand, investing in high-quality data can give you a competitive advantage and drive real business results.
So, instead of just looking at the price tag, make sure you’re evaluating lead generation agencies and lead lists based on quality and relevance to your target audience.
Now that we’ve covered what not to do when buying B2B lead lists, let’s talk about what you should do. Here’s 4 vital criteria to get the most out of your investment.
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1— DO use lists that are regularly scrubbed, updated, and free of data decay.
When evaluating the market to find the best B2B data providers, ask them about their data hygiene practices. If they balk at the question, that’s a red flag.
Ask them these questions to ensure their data hygiene practices include critical action items:
- What are their established guidelines and best practices around data hygiene?
- How do they check their data for accuracy? Preferably, third-party data providers should be cross-checking their info across a range of sources. Directly having consumers guarantee accuracy will be a major plus.
- How regularly do they update contact information? Usually with the volume of data that a data provider manages, data cleaning is a daily or weekly process.
- Do they comply with industry standards for data privacy and security, such as GDPR or CCPA?
- What is their process for removing outdated or inaccurate data from their lists?
- Do they offer any guarantees or assurances around data quality and accuracy?
Pro Tip: If you are building your own email marketing database, establish clear and rigorous guidelines for data hygiene that you implement on a regular basis, especially when you add new data to the list.
2— DO prioritize zero-party and first-party day sources.
One of the most important areas to evaluate when considering who are the best B2B data providers is to ask about their approach to sourcing leads.
Looking at their source can tell you almost everything about the quality of the data.
If they don’t have any zero-party or first-party data in their list, know that the lead list delivered could be hit or miss, and you never really know how reliable the information is.
Zero-party and first-party data sources are the most reliable and trustworthy sources of information. These sources come directly from your customers and prospects, which means you know exactly where the data is coming from and can trust that it’s accurate.
Pro Tip: You can build your own zero-party data channels too. Use surveys, a preference center or portal, and incentives to encourage your contacts to keep their contact information up to date.
Don’t fret, we’ve unpacked this in the first tip on our guide to building a more effective ABM email strategy.
See how Nutanix achieved one of the highest MQL to SAL conversion rates
“ViB’s results have far exceeded all of the other vendors we’ve used over the last few years.”
3— DO ensure your data provider offers compliant B2B data lists.
To make sure you won’t be breaking any data privacy laws or regulations, purchase only compliant B2B data lists.
Here are some tips to make sure your data provider is playing by the rules when it comes to B2B data.
First, check if the provider is registered with any data protection authorities or industry groups. This shows they’re serious about following the rules. Also, ask if they regularly check how they handle data to make sure they’re remaining compliant.
If you do business in different countries, ask how they handle data transfer across borders while following all the rules.
Make sure the provider takes security seriously and has ways to protect data from unauthorized access or data breaches.
Lastly, ask if they can share success stories from other companies who’ve used their data lists and stayed on the right side of the law. That way, you can feel more confident about working with them.
Pro Tip: To be extra cautious, check to see if the B2B data provider offers any compliance guarantees, for example, data quality warranties or compliance certifications.
4— DO look beyond price to find additional value.
There’s so much more to an outsourced partner than their price. For example, ask yourself:
- Do the B2B data providers have contacts that fit your ICP?
- Can they help you target your ideal customers?
- Do they have a good reputation? Is their track record stellar?
- Do they offer add-on services, such as email marketing?
All these questions speak to the value a company can bring to your marketing program beyond merely the price you pay for a B2B contact list.
Pro Tip: Get the full checklist of questions to ask any outsourced agency with our 5-Step Guide to Evaluating Any B2B Lead Generation Agency.
See how we get the most qualified leads with the ViB Community
Remember when we said that uncovering an agency’s approach to sourcing leads is a pretty foolproof way to predict the quality of the data?
See firsthand how we prioritize the usage of zero-party data in our ViB Community to provide warm, highly qualified leads that have already expressed interest in learning about new technologies.
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