There is no such thing as a free ride but what about free b2b marketing databases? We're not talking about the free trials, free subscriptions or free sample lists but if a vendor is actually offering a free database of business contacts how much should you trust it? This thought came about after reading a forum where a marketing professional was told they can be supplied with a free database of director level contacts within a specific vertical and was wondering if anyone else is familiar with how to get free databases. While it's great to fall into a free database full of decision making contacts, it's best to be at least a little skeptical about it.
There are great free sources of business contacts out there such as LinkedIn, Jigsaw (if you have contacts of your own which you can trade) and even articles or content published online but when it comes to ready lists to use for marketing and inside sales campaigns, it is important to understand how the database was put together and important to question it's quality especially if it's being offered for free since there are significant costs involved in building quality databases.
More importantly, you need to ensure relying completely on this free data doesn't cost your business more than you'd pay for high-quality reliable data. After all, cost doesn't always manifest itself in the form of money. Accurate data which is well qualified and meets exact requirements allows for a targeted effort and better results. If the business contacts are not your exact target decision makers, have inaccurate contact details or are no longer valid, you could end up wasting a lot of time. If these are used for inside sales campaigns, then you'll have very little success with phone calls reaching the right people and again spend a lot of time looking for the right ones.
The loss in efficiency in marketing campaigns or sales efforts could well cost more than the data. Damage to reputation is another risk an organization can face while relying on data that's not well focused and qualified. Just as much as reaching out to the right people within organizations can help build relationships, reaching out to the wrong people can help damage your company's reputation and ruin those chances of building those strong relationships. Lastly, adding unreliable or poor quality data to your database will just end up diluting the value of your database and incur more costs in cleansing and cause more ineffectiveness if used for lead nurturing or future campaigns.
So if you stumble on the fortune of what seems to be a great list from the outside which hasn't cost a dime, be skeptical first, examine it carefully, determine if it's really as good as it seems and if it is, I suggest you go buy a ticket for the grand lottery because today might be your lucky day.