You've got a massive amount of contact data, but you know it's full of invalid email addresses, incomplete customer contact data, and duplicates. Are you sitting on this data because you have no idea if the quality is good enough to use in automation?

Clean, organized, and accurate contact data is essential for the personalization of your marketing campaigns and also marketing automation. With 51% of companies using marketing automation tactics, a considerable amount of dirty data is being collected.

Whether contacts are filling in online forms incorrectly or your sales team fills out prospect details too hastily, there are many reasons you may end up with bad data in your CRM. In this article, we will take a look at how you can clean up your current CRM database and how you can keep it that way.

Curious about the quality of your CRM data? Request a free data quality check.

How do I keep my data clean in my CRM?

Many marketers know that the contact data they have in their CRM isn't the best quality. 

Unfortunately, most companies lack the staff to check the quality, let alone manually go through their entire database to find flaws and restructure it. Even if they did have the staff to allocate, it would mean pulling them away from other tasks, wasting time that could be spent strategizing, implementing and doing higher level work.

So, how can you keep your data clean?

1. Create standard practices around data entry

Once you have a clean, organized data set to work with, you need to implement practices ensuring future data is entered consistently. You’ll have to decide how you want your contact listings to look, based on your needs. These guidelines should include what information you want to collect and the format you want to enter it in.

When inputting and collecting data, the same exact piece of information can be entered multiple different ways. Here are a few examples of how inconsistent formatting can affect how data appears in your CRM. 

Birthday

May 25, 1990

25/05/1990

25-05-1990

Address 

1234 Maple Street

1234 MAPLE ST.

1234 Maple st

Phone number

+1555818909

1-555-818-909

(555)818-909

Ensure that anyone who will be inputting data into your CRM is familiar with your particular guidelines to ensure that everything is streamlined going forward.


2. Limit the number of people who can edit it

To reduce the number of flaws in your database, you should consider limiting how many people can edit it. Don't give everyone on your team full administrative privileges, or your CRM database will turn into a mess. Only allow those who need to edit contacts to have the permission to do so. And make sure they have training on your formatting guidelines for entering data.


3. Regular data cleansing

Regular maintenance of your CRM database is essential to keeping it clean. No matter how strictly you implement your data-entry guidelines and how few people can edit data, you will still end up with dirty data.

Using marketing automation, like online forms, is one of the best ways to find new leads. The problem is that you have no control over how people are entering their information into these forms. For that reason alone, you will need to set up a regular data cleansing schedule to clean up your records and identify where data is missing.

How does data become bad?

Marketing and sales professionals estimate that about 30% of their data is inaccurate in some way. Collecting bad data has a negative domino effect on your marketing campaigns, sales and can even ruin your company's reputation.

Bad data is any information that is outdated, inaccurate, duplicated, formatted incorrectly, or missing information. There are many ways that you can end up with bad data in your CRM database.

table showing the rate of decay of a new email list. Cleaning data is an important part of email list management

1. Outdated data

Customer contact data is constantly becoming outdated. People change their phone numbers, addresses, and job roles all the time. Here are a few stats to give you an idea:

  • 40% of email users change their email address at least once every two years
  • 20% of postal addresses change each year
  • 18% of phone numbers change every year
  • 60% of people change job functions within their organization every year

2. Data is formatted incorrectly

You can write figures such as addresses, names, and dates in a variety of different ways. If staff is manually inputting data or people are filling out online forms, chances are they aren't all going to enter it in the same format.


3. Customer data is input correctly

When people fill out online forms, they may put the wrong information in the wrong box or accidentally have a typo. The same is possible with manual data-entry. If a name is incorrect, then all your marketing and sales communication will be using the wrong name.


4. Duplicate data points

If you're merging lists, it's possible to end up with duplicates. You could also have the same person take advantage of multiple lead generation opportunities and end up with their email in your list several times.

Here is an example of what a dirty data list might look like:

example of a dirty CRM data list before it goes through data cleansing

What are the effects of bad CRM data?

If you have bad data in your CRM database, then any contact interactions you have, whether through marketing or via sales reps, will be flawed.

For example, suppose someone incorrectly filled out a contact form and chose Mr. instead of Mrs. When you send out your email campaigns and address the person as Mr. Sally Smith it will raise red flags. They likely won’t remember that they entered their details incorrectly, and instead just flag your company as spam. People want to receive personalized content, and if you personalize in the wrong way it will reduce your validity. On top of that, if email addresses or telephone numbers are incorrect or incomplete, then you won't even be able to reach them in the first place.

Bad data can have a substantial impact on the ROI of your marketing campaigns. IBM estimates that bad data costs the US economy about $3.1 trillion per year! Beyond that, bad data can result in:

  • Ineffective marketing campaigns

  • Negative company perceptions

  • Inability to optimize or personalize your marketing efforts

  • Hours and hours of wasted time

At least 30% of the data in every #CRM database is dirty. Dirty data is outdated, inaccurate, formatted incorrectly or incomplete, and it can hugely impact the success of your #marketing campaigns. A guide on how to clean up your CRM databases:

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Related Post: Data Cleaning Steps and Techniques To Make Any CRM Powerful

How do you clean up your customer data?

Cleaning up your customer data can be time-consuming, especially if you're attempting to do it yourself. Depending on how big your CRM lists are, it's likely unrealistic to do it manually. Luckily, you can automate and outsource your data cleansing, which releases the burden on your company. 

Regardless of how you choose to proceed, it's helpful to understand the data cleansing process and what steps you can take to clean it up.

Here is the same data list from above, only what it would look like after being cleaned:

example of a clean data list after going through data cleansing

What is CRM data cleansing?

CRM data cleansing is improving the data quality of your CRM database by removing incorrect data. It ensures that all contact information is accurate, meaning you can personalize and optimize your marketing campaigns.

 Marketing campaigns are data-driven, so by improving your database's quality, you'll improve the success of your marketing efforts. Clean CRM data will allow your marketing teams to focus on engaging with the right leads instead of time wasted crafting emails that will bounce back or calling potential customers by the wrong name.

Related post: 10 Essential Email Hygiene Best Practices For 2021

How to cleanse CRM data

1. Purge duplicates

Even if people are interested in your product or service, they don't want to be targeted twice for the same thing. Your company will quickly become spammy if your contacts are receiving multiples of the same offer. 

There are a few different ways that duplicates can end up in your CRM database. Multiple team members may have entered the same data, a potential lead could opt-in more than once, or newly imported data doesn't take existing records into account. Once you've done a purge of duplicates, you should make sure to set up your CRM system so that it automatically blocks duplicates.


2. Archive old data

If you have data in your customer relationship management system that you're no longer using but you may need for future reference, then it's time to archive it. You may need to hold onto some data for a certain number of years for compliance, or it could be important details that you don't want to get rid of but are currently of no use. Archiving old data has many benefits, including:

  • Faster processing times

  • Reducing disk space required for storage

  • Easier to look up details

  • Decreased time on backups or restoring files

3. Outsource CRM data cleansing 

Outsourcing your CRM data cleansing is the best way to eliminate inaccurate and incomplete data without wasting huge amounts of time or resources. Data cleansing companies (like us) have a team of data experts who not only clean databases but do so more effectively than SMBs could do in-house.

Many data cleansing companies will also offer data enrichment services. That means that not only will you have organized and clean data to work with, but you'll have more information about your contacts, which you can use to strengthen personalization in your marketing campaigns.

Here’s how outsourcing your CRM data cleansing can benefit your company:

a) Save valuable time

Managing your data requires substantial time investments, likely from multiple members of staff. Having to validate every contact is tedious work and takes your marketing team and sales force away from other essential tasks. Data cleansing is crucial and isn't something you can just push off to the side. But why use up your time doing it when there are experts who can do it for you and do it better? Not only does outsourcing save time in the cleansing process, but also time pursuing inaccurate leads. It's a win/win.

b) Cost-effective

Outsourcing your customer relationship management data cleansing to a third party will both save you money and make you more! Managing your own databases means hiring additional staff and paying for equipment and software tools. Data cleansing companies will cover the cost of their own tools and software, plus you don't have to pay them an annual salary.

c) Experienced professionals 

Even if you hire extra staff to do your data cleansing or task your marketing department with it, they are not experts. You will need to invest time and money into training them, and even then, they don't have any experience. Outsourcing gives you access to the industry's best data experts, with years of experience optimizing data sets. They can deliver a high-quality data set that you can trust is fully complete and accurate.


4. Use data cleansing tools

Manually cleansing data is unrealistic, especially when there are so many data cleansing tools on the market. Here are some of the most popular data cleansing tools and some of the features they offer:

Data cleansing tool

Features

tye

  • Normalizes & standardizes data

  • Removes invalid email addresses

  • Removes duplicate data sets

  • Provides genders

  • Identifies appropriate salutations, first names and surnames

  • Combines individual lists into a uniform format

Drake

  • Designed for data workflow management

  • Organises command execution around data

  • Automatically resolves data dependencies

Winpure

  • Cleans a high volume of data from databases, spreadsheets, and CRMs

  • Superfast data scrubbing

  • Has a multi-language edition

Data Ladder

  • Advanced fuzzy matching algorithms for up to 100 million records

  • Has one of the highest matching accuracies in the industry

  • User-friendly and affordable

OpenRefine

  • Transforms data from one format to another

  • Reconciles and matches data points

  • Cleans and transforms data quickly

When you're choosing a data cleansing tool, make sure to look for ones that offer smart duplicate data detection, bulk data formatting, and data cleansing automation.

While you can’t prevent dirty data from finding its way into your CRM database, you can take steps to minimize it. By setting formatting standards and a regular data maintenance schedule you can keep your lists clean and organized so that you can use them effectively. Clean data is the key to marketing success and with the option to automate and outsource your cleaning, it’s easy to optimize your datasets. 

Curious about the quality of your CRM data? Request a free data quality check.

Maeva

Maeva - November 4, 2020

Maeva Cifuentes is a B2B content marketer for tech scaleups and the founder of Flying Cat Marketing. She helps SaaS companies build trust and authority with useful, on-brand and original content.