When something is cluttered, dirty, and unorganized we can no longer ignore it. And much like your closet after 10 or 15 years of hoarding, your customer relationship management (CRM) also needs periodic cleaning.

But cleaning CRM or any database isn’t as simple as throwing out your old jeans. It takes more mastery.

  • The Benefits of Clean Data
  • How to Clean Your Data Masterfully
  • Can’t Clean it All
  • Data Enhancement

The Benefits of Clean Data

After years of collecting data from lists, inbound leads, or maybe even pulling it from personal contacts, your data will eventually become outdated. Email addresses, job titles and positions change, and random junk emails and names will manage to wiggle their way into your database.

Have you ever searched for a lead record in CRM and three (maybe even more) different records surfaced? After further inspection you realize they’re all the same person – how frustrating. You don’t know which record you should add to your email list though they’re the same person. Clean data offers you the greatest chance to get your message delivered to relevant people. Benefits also include:

  • Decreased Bounce Rates
  • Elimination of Duplicate Data
  • Enhances Data Accuracy
  • Produces Accurate Reports

How to Clean Your Data Masterfully

There are a number of methods to clean your data and they vary from extremely manual processes to dumping data in large quantities. But, there are a few ways to make this process as easy and less intensive than it may seem. There’s cleaning your data then there’s masterfully cleaning your data. Being a master implies being a skilled at something and when you’re skilled your job becomes a lot easier, you add value, and people look to you for guidance – it’s a good feeling.

No just one option is best or has to be used singularly. The best way to clean CRM is to use multiple methods that way any one method that misses data will be caught by another. These methods also don’t just apply to CRM. If you have other databases that need cleaning up it’s likely you could follow the same methods listed below.

Isolate Dead Emails: You can use advanced searches (which I’ll get to shortly) to find obsolete email addresses. Most CRMs or marketing automation platforms track email bounces and keep records of this activity. Although advanced searches are extremely beneficial the easiest method when first starting your data clean- up is to send an update email to all the people in your database who have never unsubscribed. Many organizations send a general newsletter or ask their database to update their information in that’s in their system. This is a great way to find anyone whose email bounces because of an error or are no longer at that email address. From there this may be a manual or automatic process depending on your system.

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Merge Duplicate Data: Many data systems are equipped with merging capabilities specifically designed to turn two records into one. You may even be able to do this automatically depending on your systems capabilities.

Advanced Searches & Workflows: We work with Microsoft Dynamics CRM and ClickDimensions as our marketing automation platform. Using advanced searches and views allows you to quickly segment certain pieces of data based on criteria you set. A workflow will carry out actions when ran based on what you want it to do. Using advanced searches, also called query strings, can do a lot of the hard work for you.

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Make it a Team Effort: Ask your sales team to deactivate or remove any leads they know are no longer viable. Yes – it’s just that simple. If they have thousands of leads or contacts it’s not worth their time to dig through all of them. If it’s a handful of people needing to be removed then it’s worth it to have your team do it.

Clean up Periodically: If you conduct a clean-up every 6 months or yearly it will be easier to maintain clean data. The best way to do this is with an advanced search and automatic clean-ups.

Follow CRM Best Practices: At one point or another, we’ve all been guilty of adding a lead or contact into CRM without checking to see if that person was already there. Consequently, the lead or contact is now in CRM twice with two different record owners. One of the best ways to keep duplicate data out is to ensure your team is following best practices with checking CRM first before creating new records.

Can’t Clean it All

Try not to stress over making sure every piece of bad data is cleaned up or cleared out. The goal should be to get rid of most of your bad data in bulk. The next step would be asking your team to help remove or update data they know needs to be updated or removed.

Data Enhancement

Our definition of data enhancement is the effort involved in improving data quality by enriching data with more information and cleaning data that is obsolete or outdated. Enriching your data could be something as small as adding more fields to a form to gather additional information.

Kayla Merritt is the Digital Marketing Assistant for Arke Systems and loves all things marketing! She is a recent graduate from Georgia College & State University where she received her bachelor's degree in marketing and minor in psychology.