Marketing Data on IT Prospects Varies: Study

Posted on by Richard H. Levey

Buyers of high-tech offerings within organizations are a highly sought market, and a new study from Bernice Grossman and Ruth Stevens offers insight into the various sources of prospecting data available on them.

“An [information technology] buyer is a big buyer,” says Grossman, president of marketing database consultancy DMRS Group. “They buy a lot, and multiples of the same. And those are becoming such important titles as we move into a digital world that those titles are becoming databases in and of themselves.”

In fact, an ever-increasing number of data suppliers are offering tech-buyer-focused databases. As with previous studies from Grossman and Stevens, this report doesn’t rank sources: It allows marketers to know what each source’s strengths and weaknesses are, and to match these against their information needs.

The study evaluated nine data sources – Data.com; D&B; Harte-Hanks; Infogroup; Mardev-DM2; NetProspex; Stirista; Worldata and Zoominfo – on several criteria, including total number of contacts within 10 industries, total number of contacts at 10 large and 10 small firms andcompleteness of contact information for individuals at these firms (a “complete” record was one that had a full name, address, title, phone number and email address).

In addition, the nine participating vendors were asked to provide their records for ten IT professionals whose correct information was known to Grossman and Stevens.

In terms of sheer quantity, Infogroup reported offering more names in the nine of the ten verticals than any other supplier (Mardev-DM2 claimed nearly twice the number of insurance agents, broker and service contacts). The field leveled somewhat, however, when each firm reported the number of contact records from 10 specific large firms they housed, with D&B, Mardev-DM2, NetProspex, Stirista and Worldata all claiming strengths in a variety of areas.

Coverage among the ten smaller firms was considerably spottier, with only Infogroup and Stirista reporting one name at each firm. But beyond that there were anomalies: Worldata reported a magnitude higher number of contacts at Haggar Clothing Company than any other firm, for instance.

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The variance in the result quality underscore what Grossman and Stevens have long claimed about renting data: Marketers cannot rely on a simple objective evaluation to tell them which source is the right source. Instead, the report should be taken as a reminder that there is no substitution for evaluating each company’s offerings based on the requirements of a specific marketing effort.

None of the companies asked to provide information on ten individuals came up with records for all ten, and the records that were provided reflected a patchwork quilt of completion. Email addresses were particularly notable for their absence, and several firms provided switchboard telephone numbers rather than direct lines.

Some prospecting firms familiar to marketers, such as SalesQuest, iProfile.net and InsideView, weren’t evaluated at all. The qualitative, rather than quantitative, nature of their product makes comparisons difficult.

“Those firms tend to serve the pre-sales-call planning world versus the lead generation world,” says Stevens, president of eMarketing Strategy. “What they sell is not only the name and contact information of the CIO, but what their buying plans are, when their fiscal year ends, what the installed technology they have is.”

The vendors don’t necessarily sell leads or firmographics, but offer market intelligence and commentary in prose form, adds Grossman.

“Presales people find that valuable because they get a lot of gestalt kind of insight,” she says. But it’s not information that could be used to base selects, such as firms that only have 25 or more employees, off of. “One is a lot more insight-based, which would help with a conversation, and one is definitive information.”

Even among those firms that offer lists, determining the breadth of their offerings isn’t always easy. “We saw some wacky titles of people we know are IT professionals,” Stevens, president of eMarketing Strategy, says. “Reporting manager. Senior professional. Platform manager. Vice president of engineering. Normally if you select VP of engineering you expect a mechanical or chemical engineer, not an IT person.”

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