Do You Know Where Your Customer Data Has Been?

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It's common for big, multinational companies to generate a sizeable share of their revenue from outside the U.S. International expansion remains a key growth area for many U.S. companies. According to the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2015 CFO Outlook survey of 603 financial executives, 54 percent of companies have some foreign market involvement. As some marketing leaders have discovered, it can be extremely challenging to obtain good quality customer or prospect data in emerging geographies where their companies are looking to expand. For marketers on the hunt for trustworthy data providers in new geographies, be sure to proceed with caution.
Data Analytics

It's common for big, multinational companies to generate a sizeable share of their revenue from outside the U.S. International expansion remains a key growth area for many U.S. companies. According to the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2015 CFO Outlook survey of 603 financial executives, 54 percent of companies have some foreign market involvement. As some marketing leaders have discovered, it can be extremely challenging to obtain good quality customer or prospect data in emerging geographies where their companies are looking to expand. For marketers on the hunt for trustworthy data providers in new geographies, be sure to proceed with caution.Some "companies" that provide customer and prospect data are nothing more than con artists and the data provided is often fictitious or fraudulently obtained. "I had one client tell me that the first 500 records they'd acquired turned out to be the names of Brady Bunch characters," said Kitty Kolding, president and CEO of Infocore, a global data sourcing provider.

Kolding also shared with me how some people will falsely represent themselves as government officials and offer to sell citizen contact information to interested parties. In other cases, the customer data they've compiled is nothing more than names, addresses, and phone numbers that have been transferred from phone books.

Although these types of scams are less prevalent in mature geographies such as Western Europe, Kolding says these practices are fairly common in Eastern Europe, Asia, and Latin America.

Clearly, it's important for marketing leaders to conduct due diligence when vetting data providers in different geographies. Does the data provider offer a client list? Are there client references you can contact? Can the customer data be legally used outside of its country of origin? Be sure to do your homework before committing capital.

EXPERT OPINION
EXPERT OPINION