Jigsaw's model of collecting business contact data has captivated the industry, because it consists of “crowd sourced” information. In crowd sourcing, businesspeople voluntarily list and update their own information in exchange for others' data. The result is 18 million contacts from more than 3.5 million companies—all, presumably, of businesspeople interested in being found.
Other vendors, such as NetProspex and Demandbase, employ such techniques as DNS reverse look-up, where contacts who visit websites can be tracked back to their companies based on the organizations' Internet domain names. Like D&B, they also employ call centers to verify contact information.
“If you want scale, you'll go to D&B and Infogroup, and maybe Jigsaw,” Kerner said. “If you want more targeted data, based on behavior, NetProspex and Demandbase are available.”
One weakness of the compiled lists: With individual records, the researchers assumed that vendors would provide direct phone numbers, but many provided only the general company number.
“The service was to look at the data the way b-to-b marketers generally look at it, about how to get complete contact data, who's out there and what does it look like in a comparative fashion,” Grossman said.
To increase the likelihood that marketers get the data they want, the researchers advised them to develop a detailed list-ordering methodology. They also urged marketers to understand what vendors mean by “complete” information, a definition that can vary; to be specific about industry selections; to watch for vendor specialization by industry; and to choose between breadth of companies, or breadth of contacts or both.