Marie Kondo is well known for her advice on “tidying up”. She focuses on decluttering and organizing closets, bookshelves, and homes. Some of her concepts can also apply to data management and data quality. While we may have to keep data that doesn’t necessarily “bring us joy”, we certainly don’t want to keep data that is inaccurate or no longer useful. Working with good, fresh data can be “life changing” (or can at least help us be more productive and effective at work!)
In a database like CRM, we need to regularly assess if our data is current or not. Here are some things we suggest you address:
- Duplicate data: Make sure you don’t have duplicate leads, accounts, contacts, etc. Duplicates lead to inefficiencies that can be costly. Regularly check for and address duplicates. Most CRMs have merge functions that allow you to combine duplicates and select the data to keep. Ultimately, the best way to fix the problem of duplicates is to prevent it in the first place! Users need to consistently search for existing data before adding new data. This is a best practice and will help you avoid most duplicates before they are created!
- Track and address bounced emails: If an email bounces, it should be eliminated from your database, as it is no longer valid. Your email marketing program should talk to your CRM, so that bounced emails are noted. A regular process to delete or deactivate these old emails is appropriate. You may also want to develop a follow-up process to update the invalid email or add a new contact if the previous person changed companies.
- Email validation: Several email validation tools exist – including one that TopLine Results developed. To ensure maximum email deliverability, it is often a good idea to run your email lists through a validation tool, which can tell you which emails are no longer valid. This is especially helpful if you acquire a list of emails from a tradeshow or a vendor. It can also be used on your existing email lists – especially if your email program doesn’t talk well to your CRM database.
- Ensure consistent data entry: If you have a lot of people who create entries in your database, you need a consistent plan and some protocols for data entry. A centralized group should outline expectations and train users, so that all folks who enter data use a common process. This includes things like abbreviations (St vs. St. vs Street), phone number formatting (if your database doesn’t handle this automatically), and naming protocols for things like opportunities. Having consistent data entry policies will help your users be more productive, especially when searching for or reporting on data.
- Review inactive contacts: If you have contacts that are no longer engaging with your organization, you may want to consider a process for following up or pruning your list. Some marketing programs have pricing that is based on the number of contacts in your database, so keeping inactive contacts can be costly. Alternatively, if you have good reasons for keeping a contact, then by all means do so. Even if contacts are not currently engaged, they could re-engage when they have a need. You will have to determine when culling inactive contacts makes sense.
There are other data hygiene tools out there to help you cleanup your database. We’d be happy to help you consider your options, make recommendations, and offer training, as needed. We work with Microsoft Dynamics 365, Salesforce, Zoho CRM, and Act! along with a boatload of marketing automation tools. (You can find our list here.) Reach out to TopLine Results if you want any assistance with CRM or marketing platform data cleanup. We’d be happy to help you get started!