With an understanding of why cleaning your data is so important and how it can benefit your organization, here is how to begin the data cleaning process.
Use Your CRM’s Built-In Deduplicator
Because you have leads and customers who likely use different channels to engage with your brand, there’s a chance that you’re collecting duplicate information. For example, you may have two profiles of the same customer in your database. Your CRM solution should have a built-in deduplication tool that can comb through your database for duplicate data which can then be merged or removed.
Use Email Validation Tools
Because of the vital part that email plays in any marketing strategy, using email validation tools (also referred to as email verification tools) will help you keep your email list updated. For example, you’ll be able to identify email addresses that do not exist (some leads may use fake email addresses on your forms) or no longer exist so that you can delete them from your email list. You can also remove email addresses from recipients who have ignored your emails.
Not only can you significantly reduce your email bounce rate by keeping your email list up-to-date, but you also won’t waste money sending emails that aren’t going anywhere. It will also improve your email analytics. If a customer hasn’t been opening your emails in years, they should be removed since they are causing your click-through-rate to decline, resulting in inaccurate insight into the quality of your emails. It’s difficult to identify issues with your email marketing efforts (and to figure out how you can improve them) if you’re getting inflated bounce rates and low CTR figures in your analytics due to email addresses that don’t exist or past customers/leads that haven’t engaged in a long time.
Follow A Set Of Rules For Lists, Tags, And Fields
To avoid duplicate data that are organized under different names, establish a set of rules for naming your lists, your tags, and your fields. Making sure all of your data from every data source is consistent and clearly marked will ensure that it’s properly labeled and organized in your CRM, thereby helping to improve its accuracy.
Routinely Purge Or Clear Out Inactive Or Useless Contacts
Just like when you use an email validation tool to remove email addresses that are no longer active or engaged with your brand, clearing out contacts that are inactive or useless from your CRM is equally important. You may have leads who turned out to be dead ends or customers who have moved away (out of the area you serve), no longer need your product or service, or have switched to another brand -- to name a few possibilities. Leaving their contact information in your CRM is pointless and can only result in wasted efforts in attempting to engage with them. Routinely purge contacts such as these so that your marketing and sales personnel don’t waste their time on them and so that your analytics aren’t affected by their inactivity.
Run Frequent Re-Engagement Campaigns to Keep Lists Warm
You’ll only want to remove contacts if you know that they are no longer engaged with your brand. The fewer of these contacts you have to remove, the better. It’s why you should run frequent re-engagement campaigns. Running a re-engagement campaign before you purge your contacts also allows you to identify unengaged contacts to see if there’s any point in keeping them in your database.
Specify ‘Fallbacks’ For Any Field Which May Be Used For Personalization
You will have any number of competing data sources for the same data type. The challenge is deciding which source is to be defined as the “true” source. Information, such as contact names, can be used for personalization. There can be multiple data sources for that contact name, such as chat conversations with that contact, an ebook download form, or sales rep input.
Because you have multiple data sources, using a fallback strategy to define the sequence of data sources for any given attribute is a good idea. Doing this ensures that the most accurate, up-to-date data is used. The two main types of fallback strategies include time-based (when you source data) and source-based (what data sources should be prioritized). How you specify fallbacks for any field that could be used for personalization (such as contact names) depends on what data sources you determine to be the most reliable.
Use Unique Identifier Fields to Avoid Duplications
Removing duplicates from your database is important, but taking steps to avoid them altogether will make things much easier in the long run. It can be difficult to avoid duplications when there are multiple lead sources as well as multiple people handling your CRM data. To help avoid duplicates, mark fields as “unique” in a record whose value makes them unique. For example, in a lead’s record, you could mark their email address as the unique identifier field. When you do this, it will prevent your CRM from creating another contact record using the same email address, and prevent a duplicate entry.
Ensure Those Responsible for Data Entry Understand the Expectations
Finally, make sure that everyone who handles data entry within your organization understands how important it is to keep your data clean. They should be trained on the best practices for avoiding data duplication and how to correctly input data to avoid errors. Individual data entry mistakes can be easily eliminated by simply communicating your expectations.