9 things to check when buying data

Buying a database can at first seem simple, until you delve deeper and discover that it can actually be rather overwhelming. Fear not, here are 9 things to check before you buy!

1. The origin of the data.

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  • Reputable data suppliers will be happy to answer this question, whereas dodgy ones will be vaguer. Ask how the data is initially collated and if it is kept up to date and clean.

2. Is the list law abiding?law

  • There are many laws and regulations, so this does require some research, however some pointers to be aware of are:
  • As this will fall upon your shoulders to ensure that the data that you are buying is legal you need to be confident that the list is compliant with the law and industry regulations.
    • Data must be accurate and up to date.
    • You must hold the specific consent to use the data in marketing
    • The data must be fairly and lawfully processed
    • You must be able to prove you have valid consent for the data you’re using
    • Data must be processed in line with the data subject’s rights.
    • If a customer asks where your data has come from, you must let them know
    • By law, consumer data must be checked against the Telephone Preference Service (TPS)

3. How detailed are the answers to your questions?


  • A reputable provider will always be happy to answer your questions. They will be happy to provide specific details and should not be vague or miss out information. Make sure every question you have in answered so you have a very good, well informed understanding of the data you are buying.

4. How tailored can you make the database that you are receiving?


  • There are two types of data. Consumer data (B2C), the criteria can be as simple as age, gender, hobbies, home address etc. Some suppliers can even supply information on hobbies, interested and lifestyle elements. If the supplier tries to tell you that you cannot select this specifically, this should set off alarm bells – does this mean their data isn’t accurate? Or is it not even legal? It certainly won’t give you the target audience that you need anyway.
  • The other type is business (B2B) data and you should be able to select properties by company size, department, job, location etc.
  • To make the most out of your database, you should be able to select the criteria of your data to ensure you have an appropriate target audience. A puppy breeder isn’t going to be interested in contacts who are in the equine industry.

5. Understanding your business

Business team deliberating on market research

  • The supplier should show an active interest in your business and this is good because it means they will be better at matching the most relevant contacts. Without understanding, the database you will receive may not be as good as it could be.

6. Industry accreditations


  • Are they a member of the DMA? They set the standards for companies and are at the forefront of the values, policies and practices for direct marketing.
  • You definitely need to check the accreditations of the organisation that you’re buying off – make sure they have the appropriate ones for supplying marketing data.

7. How much value does the supplier add?business-cash-coin-concept-41301-large

  • What are the insights and other services that the supplier provides? Can they manage your database too? What about cleansing and validating it regularly as databases do go out of date. If they do offer these kind of services it shows they are committed and not just sourcing awful quality data to sell on quickly.

8. Cheap and (not so) cheerful


  • If something sounds too good to be true, it really is. In the data industry you get what you pay for. Be wary of bargains and offers which are distinctly lower than others.

9. Track record


  • How many success stories are associated with the company? Are testimonials widely available? Published success stories are excellent indictors as you can always contact those companies to ask for more details too.

So there we have it. Some tips on what to look for – remember that these are not the only things that you should be asking about but they’ll certainly help you along your way!

If you have any questions or you are in fact looking to buy data – please get in touch!



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