The success of your marketing and sales campaigns rely heavily on your contact database. Your teams need to have access to updated and valid data to keep the campaign running smoothly. Any errors or inconsistencies in your contact data could lead to undelivered emails, unanswered phone calls, or missed social media connections.
However, trying to clean the data can be time-consuming. Sometimes the whole thing can take weeks to complete. It can be tempting to just purge your database completely even though it risks losing all your valuable contacts you’ve gathered over time.
Some of the data in your database might also just be bad. Bad data always lead to bad results. Your reps might waste a lot of valuable time and resources pursuing invalid leads, which means they also lose opportunities to pursue the good leads they do have in their database.
Luckily for you, there are easy ways to maintain your database and keep it updated and free from inconsistencies. These steps will help you keep your data always ready to be shared, and will help your reps deliver great results.
Always make sure your records are complete
The tiniest mistake in your records can lead to disaster for your marketing efforts. Just the slightest misspelling or incomplete contact information can lead to missed opportunities and lost sales. Going forward with incomplete data can seriously hinder your reach and deliverability. Records with empty fields can also affect your segmentation process.
Preventing these risks are why you should always keep your records complete as often as possible. You can do this using your leads database or your CRM tool. Luckily, doing this is simple. You just have to decide what information goes into making a complete record. After that, you have to set this information as mandatory fields on your lead capture forms. This way you will make sure that all your prospects submit all the information you need every time.
Then, you will need to go through your existing database and complete all fields that are lacking information. If your list is small enough, you can use Excel’s built-in filtering features to do this, but if you’re working with a bigger list, you might need to go for automation. You might also need to work with a third-party data provider to complete the process for large databases.
Set a regular schedule for updating your database
Your data won’t last forever. Even if you’re very strict in gathering and storing data, your contact data still decays every year, at rates varying from 30% to 70%. There are a lot of factors that cause this decay. For example, some of your contacts might have changed jobs in the past year. They may have been transferred to another department or branch. They may have changed their contact details. Or their company itself may have rebranded or moved to another field.
Keeping up with these changes is very important in maintaining your contact database. This is why you need to set up and follow a regular and thorough schedule in updating your database. Your teams have to be able to update your database in terms of the latest job titles, contact information, and other key information almost at the same time as these changes happen.
Your database size, your available resources, and your company processes tell you how often you should update your marketing data. For example, studying the average turnover rate in your target industry or job should inform you how often to check your database for changes in these fields.
Merge duplicate records
Duplicate records can cause confusion and make you lose opportunities. Your sales teams might send the same email to the same contact at the same time, which would directly affect their response to your pitches. What’s worse is that duplicate records can be very hard to detect. Your reps might be working with duplicate data without even knowing it. This is why removing duplicate records has become a critical issue for marketers.
You also have to take into account other possibilities. For example, it’s unavoidable for a single contact to sign up for your service using several different email addresses. This will affect the number of records you will have to input to your database just for one person.
The trick in completely removing duplicate records is combining manual processing and automated tools. If you are using a CRM tool, you might find that it has built-in de-duplication features. Or, if you are looking for commercially available software options, you might also check if it has even stronger de-duplication capabilities. But you can’t always rely on software. There will be particular moments where you need to manually inspect your database for duplicate entries. For example, during instances where you have to decide which records to throw out and which records to keep.
Keep your data consistent through standardization
Inconsistent data across records and fields can affect the accuracy of your assessment of the campaign. The slightest misspelling, or changes in country or state abbreviations, and even differences in data formats, can seriously impact your reporting.
This is why you have to make sure you always have consistent and uniform data. A clever way to achieve this is by letting your prospects sign up with drop-down menus rather than with blank fields they have to manually fill out. And once you’ve decided on an option, you have to standardize it by implementing it on all sign-up forms across all channels.
You can also use your CRM tools to standardize your existing data, but this can require doing some parts manually. You should use tools that are able to clean identical entries but also enable you to track every step of the cleanup process.
Design and implement a thorough data cleansing program
Another key detail that you have to keep in mind is that data cleaning is a regular process. The nature of data collection and storage means that you cannot just clean your databases once. The importance of this task also means that everyone in your company has to do his part in maintaining your database.
It’s also very important for you to identify your benchmarks for assessing your data cleaning efforts. You will come across several figures in your review, but you will make the process easier if you analyze the numbers through these metrics:
- Overall level of data hygiene
- Completeness of database records
- Levels of allowed reach and targeting of the database
- Type of response rates generated
- Data sources which result in the most issue
These metrics will help you design and implement a regular data cleansing program to make sure you always have actionable data on hand. You will also improve your ability to notice inconsistencies, which will go a long way to making your marketing and sales campaign run as smoothly as possible.
The unavoidable fact of bad data means that you really have to always be watchful for the sources and causes of invalid data. You must always be prepared, which needs a careful and thorough plan. Once you put together an effective data maintenance program, your data troubles should soon come to an end.