Demerits of buying mobile number database for bulk SMS marketing

Mobile Number DatabaseMany business owners wish to acquire a big list of mobile numbers of people who are most likely to purchase their product or service (mobile number database of target customers). The owners believe that they can generate prospective business leads when they conduct bulk SMS marketing campaigns (sending large numbers of SMS messages to mobile phone handsets) with those targeted numbers.

Some businesses spend a significant amount of time, money, and effort to acquire that targeted base of numbers. But there are serious setbacks in buying those mobile number databases over preparing them themselves.

The drawbacks of acquiring the databases for SMS campaigns are not evident for first-time buyers. Here is an effort to uncover those pitfalls, and in-turn help the marketers and business owners.

Let us start by exploring the sources of those targeted databases.

Database sources

A database of mobile numbers is also called as a contact list of the people to whom marketers want to send text messages.

There are numerous individuals and companies (called as database vendors) who sell databases. Many those entities maintain and promote their websites. Some companies advertise via online mediums like google ads, justdial, shopclues, etc. They may also conduct email marketing and sms marketing campaigns in order to promote their business.

Generally, database vendors showcase their databases with the categories like profession, industry, city, state, etc. They offer to provide other details like name, address, mobile phone number, email id, gender, salary, etc. Many of them guarantee extremely high accuracy of their bases (like 99%). Some offer free sample databases as well.

Like any other businesses they offer the convenient payment options like net banking, credit/debit card, deposit cash, deposit cheque, etc. The databases are delivered via download link or via courier (CD/DVD).

Many thousands of profiles are created in the organizations like schools, colleges, telecom companies, LPG distributors, job portals, business directories, banks, media houses, etc. The people’s profiles in those organizations are generated for providing service, updating important information, meeting government regulations, etc. Most database vendors pick up the mobile numbers list from similar organizations where the databases are created. Some buyers may directly approach those organizations instead of contacting database vendors.

Creating and maintaining the profiles is a regular process in order to maintain good number contactability at any given point of time. This process consumes a lot of time, money, and effort.

Good databases are expensive

Both creating and maintaining databases, have different processes and expenses.

Updated profiles are very important for efficient functioning of companies.

In companies like job portals, banks, and directories, thousands of profiles are NOT created in one go. Profiles are generated gradually over a period of time. Due to advertising and marketing efforts of companies, prospective customers register their details in company’s office or online portal. In order to accrue so many profiles, companies spend big on business strategy, advertising, marketing, product development, customer support, etc.

People change as they grow older, get married, have children, change jobs, change their residences, take loans, buy cars, change contact numbers, etc. Companies have to capture those changes and update their customers’ profiles regularly.

Some companies have made provisions for users to update their profiles themselves. Usually, all users don’t update their profiles. Few companies have dedicated teams to contact their customers to update profiles. So updating an entire database actually may take several months to a few years in some cases. Updating profiles of thousands of people every day is neither practical nor possible. Though capturing all profile changes on day to day basis is impossible, few companies spend big to keep their customers profiles up-to-date.

Now it is a no-brainer to conclude that many numbers in a database are outdated at any given point of time. This proves that a 99% accurate database claim by database vendors is a plain hoax. Hence all databases sold at cheap rates are less reliable.

Genuine bases that are available are very difficult to find and negotiate.

In case a buyer finds a genuine database it incurs additional costs as the database’s shelf life is very less.

Costs shoot up exponentially over the period of time

The genuineness of the numbers can be confirmed only after conducting the campaigns and analyzing the results.

Though the chances of discovering a suitable database is very less, let us assume that one of the SMS campaigns yielded good results.

Before using the same database after some time, marketers have to focus on few important points.

World around us is changing very fast and there are very less clues about where it’s heading. So the lives and needs of people are changing rapidly. This fast rate of change makes the once-acquired genuine databases become redundant after a short period of time.

As the acquired databases degrade, the usefulness of the so called genuine databases reduces drastically over the period of time. The buyers have to undergo the complete buying process again, costing them big money every time.

Apart from buying databases regularly it is important to keep up with the earlier bases. If this task is not managed properly then the buyer ends up paying twice, trice, or more for the same profiles. This process consumes additional time, effort, and money.

When buyers decide to update their databases often then they may not get the database of the previous quality, quantity, category, etc.

Highly specific databases do not exist

Suppose a school wants new admissions for the next academic year. They usually send messages to families nearby for whom the school is accessible. A chain of health clinics wants to reach residents of a particular city. In another case, an insurance company has a product targeted at software professionals in a particular city.

Every business needs the phone numbers of people with specific characteristics.

Many times the quantity of the required category of database is very less or not available. This happens often when marketers have very specific requirements.

Most of the database vendors won’t disclose the source and the methodology to procure the databases.

A good database may be illegal

A good database often can ONLY be used by its legal owners. Businesses that collect data about their users or customers often have it as part of their terms and conditions that their data will not be shared with third parties.

Thus the cost of acquiring and using databases from other organizations can include additional legal expenses if a case is registered against the person or business illegally using the database.

Every business has to sustain and then grow. A good marketing medium must be flexible enough to scale-up.

Hurdles to the growth of an organization

There are serious limitations in sourcing, maintaining, purchasing, quality-control, quantity, shelf life, and legality while dealing with the databases. Considering all the hurdles of bought databases the model is not suitable for the growth of an organization.

Our experience (at in the industry shows that most of the marketers don’t buy the databases repeatedly. This fact indicates that the method is not yielding positive results.


The worries won’t end here! The database buyers have to address grave issues while using bought databases in SMS campaigns. Read more …

There’s a way out! It’s worth exploring other options like cultivating your own databases instead of buying databases from grey markets.