Shopping online is the staple of 21st-century living. We shop for everything on the internet, from groceries and clothes to books and technology. All this shopping, among other things, creates lots and lots of web data. And to complete the circle, now we can also buy web data.
Companies do just that to improve their strategies, knowledge of their customers, and many other aspects critical to business success. Thus, let us go over the best practices involved in buying data and all the little things you should know about it.
Buy or Collect?
So let us say that you are in need of additional data points for data enrichment, lead generation, or any of the other routine business procedures. The first question to answer is how you would get that data. The major divide between methods is between buying data and collecting it yourself.
There are some advantages to collecting your own data. You have full control over the sources and methods used. And you can choose to gather exactly the kind of data points that you know you need for your purposes.
In reality, however, everything is not as simple as it sounds on paper. Gathering data requires both technical and legal knowledge. The former allows using the best tools and procedures for efficiency and looking at the right sources. The latter ensures compliance with various laws and ethical considerations regulating data collection.
Without being sure that you have the qualities necessary for such data collection, you run the risk of getting into trouble with the authorities and wasting your time and money. For these reasons, many businesses turn to buy data and leave data collection and structuring to professionals.
Even companies that are gathering data themselves will be buying data on a routine basis. Additional data points enrich the data sets owned by companies or provide a quick source of information when a new research question arises.
The Steps To Take When Buying Data
If you are considering buying data, naturally, you are wondering what is the best way to go about it. The first step is determining what kind of information you need. A few features are to be considered.
- What is the purpose of your data analysis? For example, if it is for lead generation, online customer behavior data is what you need. If you are looking to boost your HR analytics, data from professional social media sites can do the job.
- Does data formatting matter to you? Do you want structured, semi-structured, or raw data?
- How would you like to access it? You might prefer on-demand data packages or accessing particular databases through an API.
When you know what you need, you can start looking into who has it. One way to do it is by browsing data marketplaces, which are platforms much like physical marketplaces where sellers meet buyers. Another way is to go directly to the website of the data provider.
In either case, you would want to look for reviews on the provider you are considering buying data from and get some information about their track record. Avoid suspicious and unprofessional-looking websites.
Find out whether the provider has what you need. Look at the ways to access the data they provide and what types of data they offer. The final step before buying data could be contacting the provider directly to ask what they can offer for your particular needs.
Even if you are not sure what you need yourself, a good provider will often be able to consult you honestly and suggest some free samples. After all, their reputation depends on customer satisfaction.
How Good Was Your Purchase?
Assuming you have found the provider you trust and bought some data, what now? Naturally, you will use it to improve your data-driven procedures. The key thing to do along with it is to keep track of your performance.
Measuring the improvement in the results of your crucial efforts will allow you to determine the value added by buying data. You will then know how good is your data provider and if they are worth the money. If you are not satisfied with the results after a reasonable period of time, you might want to consult your provider to see if something else might be worked out.
In case your key performance metrics (KPIs) still show that you receive less than you were led to believe in terms of value, there is always another data provider that would love the opportunity to help you.