April 13, 2015

Five Tips: Finding the right data provider

Using data in campaigning is no longer optional and using a ‘big data’ provider has become the high quality, low cost way to get the data your organization needs. Regardless of size, campaigns, independent expenditures and others are making the jump from printed state files to online platforms such as L2 DataMapping. Below are some tips on how to find the right data provider for you.

Five tips on finding your 2016 data provider:

1. Data Providers are Data Partners.

If your data is flawed it can compromise the rest of your strategy making your data partner selection critical.  There are four preliminary questions you should ask yourself and any provider:

  • Available Data: Does this provider have the voter, commercial, non-registered, census, contribution data etc…that my organization needs?
  • Quality: What are the data source(s) and how has the data been processed? Where do the provider’s phone numbers originate and from how many sources? When were the files last updated?
  • Accessibility: Can data selections be made and the final file pulled online? What is the turnaround time for custom data services such as appending email or cell phones to an existing list?
  • Pricing: Does the data pricing fit your organization’s budget? When a price is quoted what data are you getting for that price?

2. Learn to use your tools.

The best data providers offer service both on the phone and online allowing users to analyze and buy data instantly.  Not all online platforms are created the same, ask for a webinar or in person training session. These usually take an hour or less and you can get your entire team up to speed at once. Once you know the basics don’t let that be the end of your education, ask for advanced trainings tailored to how your organization operates. If a data provider refuses or charges for these services you should re-evaluate the partnership.

3. Fundraising starts with good data.

After you’ve made the decision to purchase data a metric should be established to test for quality. A critical test for any political data provider is how well the data performs when it comes to fundraising. This early test of your data can be measured by the response rate of your existing and potential donors to email, phone calls, mailers, canvassers etc… While a lot goes into a donor’s willingness to give, if you’re not receiving any response good or bad, your data may be failing you.

4. Analyze or die.

Having the ability to analyze data and target is no longer optional. Organizations only using printed lists (some still exist) are at an extreme disadvantage as they have almost no ability to target individually. Having a digital list in an accessible format (.csv/Excel) allows you to sort by precinct, zip code, town or other area selections or voter/commercial data depending on available sources. In addition to multiple export types, your provider should include a visualization platform allowing you to instantly see your selections on a map and your voter/residence count, giving you a greater ability to plan strategically.

5. Support.

Do not enter any agreement with a data provider without asking for their support hours and support contact information. Data is critical to a campaign’s success and if you’re not getting the data you need or the platform is not working, you need as many resources online and in person as possible to help you resolve any issues.

For more information on L2 DataMapping or any L2 product email:

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