The corporate misuse and abuse of business contact lists in the UK has more than doubled since 2001, providing a warning that B2B list owners must begin to police their data assets more closely, according to new research from data management firm DQM Group.
The worst offenders, by sector, were found to be utilities, associations, societies and caterers. The most compliant with licence terms were government agencies and recruitment firms.
According to DQM, the field of B2B marketing in the UK has been largely left alone by communications regulators (apart from the introduction of the Corporate Telephone Preference Service - a non-mandatory opt-out list).
However, targeting standards have improved significantly over the past few years, with recent figures showing a reduction in average campaign volume from 22,624 in 2002 to 19,760 in 2006. But this may not continue to be the trend if lists are continually abused, the company warns.
Putting ethical issues aside for a moment, list abuse also usually means that the end users of the list will not be getting the most up-to-date data from the list owner, which will reduce response levels and create a poor image of the marketer.
Indeed, marketers will need to increase campaign volumes again to achieve the same number of responses as they would get from a well targeted and managed list, or alternatively invest more in creative offers and response incentives - both of which approaches mean an increase in the cost of marketing.
According to Adrian Gregory, managing director of DQM Group, "The first finding of our report is that list abuse has more than doubled since 2001. From our ten years experience of tracking data, a lot of the misuse is down to poor processes and systems at the client end - once they load the list into their CRM system."
But increasing accessibility and ease of copying data are also major reasons for the growth in list abuse. As Gregory warned: "Either way, this is a major warning to data owners to police the use of their data much more carefully - and they can expect to generate substantial new list revenues from pursuing misuse."
According to DQM, the very slight reduction seen in 2005 (over 2004's index figure) is to be regarded merely as a plateau, since anecdotal evidence from the early part of 2006 indicates no decrease in cases of misuse.
Source: DQM Group