New data sources for b-to-b lead generation

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John Coe
John Coe
The majority of b-to-b marketing campaigns and budgets are devoted to lead generation. It is also widely accepted that at least 60% or more of the success of a lead generation campaign is dependent on the degree that the list matches the targeted audience and its accuracy. This is particularly critical at the contact level, thus giving rise to the 80/60 rule.

An old b-to-b axiom is painfully true here: A great campaign sent to a lousy list will not do as well as a lousy campaign sent to a great list.

As b-to-b marketers, we are in perpetual search of an accurate list of contact names, as companies don't buy anything — people do. Prior research from the Sales and Marketing Institute has shown that one or more elements in the businessperson's contact level data (name, title, function, company, postal address, e-mail and phone number) changes at a 70.8% rate in one year. In other words, at least 5% per month. Our traditional list sources, both compiled (e.g. D&B, InfoGroup) and response (e.g. trade magazine qualified subscribers) encounter the same decay problem.

The bad news is that their success in updating the names has been hit-and-miss, and never meets the accuracy expectations of the marketers or salespeople. It is not uncommon to find a 20% to 30% inaccuracy level in the contact information in these traditional list sources.

There are new data resources that have recently come onto the scene that provide an alternative option and spell good news for beleaguered b-to-b marketers. They employ different methods to gather business information. Here are some to consider when seeking your list-and-data source:

LinkedIn: While we know this firm more for its social networking positioning, LinkedIn also represents a new source of names and data that is self-provided by businesspeople. At the end of last year, LinkedIn had 53.6 million members. It doesn't sell lists per se, but provide an accurate source of key executives.

Jigsaw: A list of contacts and companies provided primarily by salespeople. Jigsaw's list now includes over 20 million individuals and 9 million business sites. Accuracy is self-monitored by other salespeople who input and extract the data, and you know how picky salespeople can be.

ZoomInfo: This data source uses Web-crawling technology to gather information from company Web sites containing a wide array of company information and contacts. To the degree that the company's Web sites are accurate, the data at ZoomInfo are accurate. It currently has 45 million names, within 5 million companies, on their database.

Spoke: Combines both data from salespeoples' input, like Jigsaw, and Web-crawling technology, like ZoomInfo. Now has more than 60 million people spread over 2.3 million companies

Demandbase: A new firm that merges data from demographic, response and self-reported lists into one database. It has 665,000 companies and 8 million contacts in their database.

Entiera: Another new firm that has multiple databases in house that are accessed in ways to produce the effect of one large merged database. Currently, it has 20 million business locations and 40 million names available.

MeritDirect: This company's new OmniChannelBase of 53 million names represents a merger of traditional compiled, response and transaction files from a wide array of sources.

There are other b-to-b data sources, but these seven represent new and different approaches to gathering data when compared to the traditional list sources. Your choice of source does, of course, depend on your target market and segmentation scheme, but we now have sources that promise improved accuracy and depth of data to find the right companies and people to fuel the most critical of the four lead generation elements — the list.

John Coe is president of the Sales & Marketing Institute. Reach him at


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