A guide to buying business data

A Guide to Buying Business Data

With any data source there are a variety of data selection criteria available from basic information such as company name and address within selected industries and postcode areas to more specific information for example, how large is the company, how long trading, whats the turnover or annual spend details etc

Magnifying glass over data

You need to ensure you choose the right criteria for your campaign.

One way is to research your existing customers via the telephone or survey. Alternatively you can ask the data supplier to profile your existing customer base. This means matching your database against the business universe to establish the types of companies held on your database. From this profile report you can identify and select the companies that are like your best customers.

Once you have identified your ideal prospects you can then decide what type of contact you wish to make i.e. direct mailing, telephone or email.

Adding to an existing database

A point to bear in mind is your existing database. How clean is this data?

It would be worth checking the data and possibly cleaning it before adding more data to it – this will ensure consistency and reliability.

The quality of data is paramount.

There are a number of questions you should ask

1. How is the data collected? Most business data comes from Companies House or from directories.

2. How is the data verified? The most accurate way is via telephone.

3. How big is the business database? This ensures you are getting a true representation of the total number of records available.

4. How frequently is the data updated? Updated on a rolling basis, monthly or yearly.

Also you need to establish what quality guarantees are in place for incorrect records or “gone aways”. There are always a going to be a percentage of errors held on any database therefore you need to know the tolerances.


There are a number of standard licenses – single use (mailing), single campaign (mailing / email & telephone follow up), and one year unlimited use.

The supplier

Data consultancy – a good data supplier will be able to advise you on the level and type of data required for your campaign for free.

Run a count – letting you know how many records are available for the list you are interested in. Most counts are provided on the same day.

– Data is usually delivered within 24 to 48 hours of signing and returning your purchase order unless your requirements are complex.

One final note before buying your database is be aware of the legislation surround direct marketing in particular, the Data Protection Act.