The Influx of Marginal List Providers: Part 1
When we started compiling education data in the spring of 2011 there were only a handful of list companies, which included us- K12 Data, MDR, MCH, and Agile. Our companies’ use a similar path to providing quality education data lists. We employ dozens of great people to compile our files as well as engineers, designers, server administrators, sales and marketing, and other integral employees to ensure & maintain a high standard of data quality. Over the past few years this playing field has gotten crowded but not in a good way where healthy competition has led to better quality and service. What has evolved is a cluttered marketplace with poor data quality, illegal use of Internet spiders, misleading company information, and intellectual property theft. There are some basic steps to help ensure you are purchasing data lists from a reputable company. This is Part 1 of a miniseries of best practices in list purchasing.
Signs of a Quality List Provider
There are many ways to gauge the quality of a data company. The first, just like email deployment, is being transparent. Transparency starts with providing legitimate contact information, the physical address of the company, the owner’s and employee’s real names, and who to contact when an issue arises. When you call the Data Company in Dallas do you get the impression over the phone that you are actually speaking to “Chuck” or more likely someone posing as a Dallas company & resident conducting business from Bangladesh? The Internet opens up limitless opportunities for individuals to launch businesses from anywhere on the globe without any impediments or legitimacy.
Where Did the Data Come From and is it Any Good?
You can glean a lot of information from the Internet but is it worth your time and is it reliable? There are hundreds of resources to help one put their lead database together but it comes with a cost. I speak to people regularly that say that they are done having their summer intern compiling marketing lists for them. The problem is that the task of scrolling the web for leads, calling schools, adding them to a spreadsheet, and kicking over to your marketing team is a big job. It’s parallel to the fact that I changed my car’s oil for many years, 16-23 (maybe). Then it became apparent to me that my time is far more valuable than the money I can save by embarking on the messy job myself. I can run my car down to Jiffy Lube, pay $30, not break a sweat, and use my time more wisely. On top of this the people at JL dedicate their days to doing this job and doing it systematically, quickly, and professionally (in most cases). Compiling data lists is no different. Leave the compilation to a company that has a dedicated team in place that’s sole daily purpose is to build quality lead lists from the ground up. That’s exactly what we at K12 Data do. Our data is 100% single-sourced by our team. We don’t buy, lease, or use data from outside our company and that is unusual. Our approach has always been that we can only vouch for the quality if we compiled the file. Bad data is worse than no data.
Get List Guarantees
Ask your prospective List Compiler or List Broker (reseller, not compiler) to send you a random sample of say 50-100 contacts. Next ask them what guarantees they have for email deliverability and get this in writing. At our company we stand behind a 97% email deliverability rate. Any Hard Bounces (invalid emails) exceeding 3% are fully credited. The industry average is closer to 85% on email delivery. That’s fine unless you are loading your file into any legit email deployment company that has concerns about their IP’s. Mail Chimp https://mailchimp.com/pricing/ has become one of the more prolific and possibly well-known email marketing companies in the US. If you have ever loaded a shabby list into their platform the monkey (automated monkey, because I don’t think I know anyone that has ever been able to speak to a human –bummer) will smack you down letting you know that “Your list is bad and you are going to be shut down…” And this is for good reason, they don’t want their IP’s blacklisted (https://www.networksolutions.com/blog/tools-and-tips/three-tactics-to-avoid-being-ip-blacklisted-as-a-business/), and who can blame them. So the lesson here is start with good data and if you feel your database is a little suspect, aged, a mess, then send it out to be verified before you engage the angry (non-human) deployment monkeys. The best way to keep your file clean is to use it. The attrition rate of education data is roughly 22%. That means that if you did nothing with your email list for six months you can expect that 10%+ will bounce and that was if you started with a good list right out of the gate.