For years, sales and marketing teams have been spending money to buy lead generation tools and contact data to grow their email marketing database.

Unfortunately, the days of just filling your marketing system with the most names, emailing them indiscriminately, and seeing a flood of responses is long gone.

Today, there are so many choices and tools that promise to accelerate growth and build your pipeline, it can be overwhelming. What’s the tradeoff between going with a tool that promises the most names versus another that promises the most accurate intelligence?

When many data providers claim 200m+ web-scraped (often inactive) contacts and others deliver 2m+ research-verified contacts, it’s difficult to determine which is more valuable. When does quality beat quantity?

And when executing an ABM strategy, does quantity even matter?

SalesFolk, a trusted outbound email company, is considered an expert on outbound email for 500+ B2B sales and marketing teams – and pride themselves on outbound email campaigns with open rates that reached above 82% on certain templates.

ZoomInfo had been SalesFolk’s data provider for years. But bounce rates were often high, and the accuracy of the data varied. SalesFolk was considering a change.

Join the webinar: All Data is NOT Created Equal: An Independent Case Study Comparing ZoomInfo and DiscoverOrg Email Accuracy

Who has more accurate data for outbound email campaigns?

A man opens cold email at the airport

With the advent of new technologies, it’s become easy to scrape the web to gather contact data, but it’s also become harder to distinguish between good and bad data, to maintain high email deliverability, and to see significant improvements in email marketing results.

Email campaigns are a cornerstone strategy for outbound marketing and sales development alike.

Whether it’s account-based B2B strategy or customer marketing, it’s nearly impossible to generate leads without email. When inaccuracy plagues lead lists, whether purchased or in-house, bounced emails lead to spam reports – which may blacklist an entire domain, jeopardizing the company’s ability to do basic business.

“At SalesFolk, we’re obsessed with productivity, especially sales productivity,” says CEO Heather R. Morgan. “As a former Economist, I’m always thinking about efficiency and opportunity costs. When evaluating sales tools for my team, I try to make sure that they will be able to work efficiently, but I’m always monitoring final results because just having a smooth UX isn’t necessarily going to have the best email deliverability. And without that, the effectiveness of our email campaigns will be bottlenecked, and so will our sales pipelines.”

Without accurate email addresses, SalesFolk’s business, like many outbound companies, would be severely compromised.

Which is better? The DiscoverOrg vs. ZoomInfo case study

“SalesFolk is always on the lookout for the best tools and strategies to get our clients the best results possible,” says Morgan. “Although Salesfolk had relied on ZoomInfo for sales intelligence data for years, it was time to consider other options.”

SalesFolk treats their own inside sales team as a laboratory for running experiments with new messaging, testing which tools consistently deliver the best email deliverability, and finding the fastest and most accurate ways to build highly targeted lead lists.

True to form, SalesFolk decided to conduct an experiment.

[WEBINAR] A Use Case for Data Quality: Join DiscoverOrg’s Steve Breyerton and SalesFolk’s Heather Morgan

The pipeline-building experiment

Don't get caught in a spam trap

The objective was to test different DiscoverOrg and ZoomInfo emails to see who had the best quality data and contributed to the best results for their sales email campaigns. The main indicator of success is “positive response rate,” but tracking all metrics throughout the funnel offers a more comprehensive understanding of the quality of the data and how it affects sales teams’ results.

To dig into the truth of the two companies’ claims, SalesFolk:

  1. Created an “8-touch” campaign with 8 emails to senior sales leaders at midsize to enterprise-sized companies that had at least 3 inside sales people
  2. Created two separate targeted lists matching the same criteria used to research and create the email templates, using ZoomInfo and DiscoverOrg
  3. ZoomInfo’s list included 782 leads
  4. DiscoverOrg’s list included 200 leads
  5. Scrubbed the lists to remove text like “LLC” or “LTD” from company names so that any merge tags with company name wouldn’t look weird in an email
  6. Sent the leads a series of 8 emails over approximately 7 weeks, removing any leads that had responded or bounced
  7. Tracked emails that bounced, were opened, and responded, across each of the 8 “steps” of the campaign

The results

DiscoverOrg beat ZoomInfo across every single touch point of SalesFolk’s campaign, including positive replies and positive response rate. Even though SalesFolk used 3 times more leads from ZoomInfo, DiscoverOrg email addresses yielded almost 10 times more positive responses on the first touch.

  • Zoominfo’s bounce rate was 5x higher than DiscoverOrg’s
  • DiscoverOrg’s open rate was more than 2x higher than ZoomInfo’s
  • DiscoverOrg’s positive response rate was over 4+x higher than ZoomInfo’s over all 8 touches

Case-study conclusion

Data quantity can not outperform data quality.

SalesFolk believes that the overall lead quality – both accuracy and the ability to target – was responsible for almost a 10x difference in results, in terms of leads emailed and the number of positive responses yielded.

Morgan summarizes her thoughts on the experiment:

It’s nearly impossible for any data provider to have perfect 100% accuracy with leads since people move jobs faster than they update their LinkedIn profiles, but having a high bounce rate can really sabotage your sales email campaigns, no matter how good your copy is.

With ZoomInfo, we had almost a 20% bounce rate (18.9% to be exact) from the first touch, with a nearly 8% bounce rate on the second touch. This is just too high, especially as you look at scaling up volume. Most likely, not all 782 emails were truly “delivered” on the first touch, since our bounce rate was so high, therefore leaving us with even more bounces to clean up and remove on the second touch point. With DiscoverOrg, we did see some bounces. We had 9 out of 200 emails sent, which is a 4.5% bounce rate. That’s perfectly healthy, especially at this volume and cadence.

In all cases, the open rates were at least about double with DiscoverOrg, but on the first email, the DiscoverOrg data had a 4.7x higher open rate than ZoomInfo data. We normally see pretty high open rates, sometimes above 82% on certain templates, but the difference between our open rates with the DiscoverOrg and ZoomInfo campaigns were day and night.

Open rates aren’t the most important metric when it comes to sales emails, and you shouldn’t obsess about them too much, but they are a great indicator of factors that might be bottlenecking your outbound efforts such as email deliverability, list quality issues, or really bad subject lines or poorly written emails.

And then there’s the fact that if less people see your email, less people can respond and will end up buying from you.

Other than getting better results, what my sales team really loved about using DiscoverOrg was the ability to develop laser-targeted lists with specific filters and scoops, like which sales or marketing tools an organization is using or not using.

True sales intelligence platforms combine refined company and contact data – plus CONTEXT – to target the right buyer at the right account with the right message at the right time to deliver faster, smarter growth.

Even though SalesFolk sent three times as many email addresses using ZoomInfo data, they received twice the number of positive meetings set using DiscoverOrg’s highly accurate, refined sales intelligence. It’s hard to make an argument against results like that.

Quality beats quantity.

Katie Bullard
About the author

Katie Bullard

As Chief Growth Officer (CGO), Katie brings 15 years of marketing, product, and strategy experience in global, high-growth technology businesses to her role at DiscoverOrg. She has a bachelor’s and masters degree from the University of Virginia.