9 Ways to Clean Marketing Data
Good data is the lifeblood of sales and marketing. It is critical for prospecting and accurate data analysis. So here are some tips on how to keep it clean.
It doesn’t matter whether your data is kept in a spreadsheet, marketing automation platform or a CRM system – bad data kills marketing effectiveness! We understand that keeping data clean is no mean feat and there’s a lot going on in your database. But it’s up to you to make sense of it to ensure a good return on investment.
Why Does Data Get So Dirty?
According to Netprospex’s 2015 State of Marketing Data Report, your data degrades at up to 36% a year. This means your spending huge chunks of your budget on marketing campaigns and software, only to find errors in your database are preventing you from effectively targeting your audience. So why does it get so bad?…
…you’re inputting incorrect data in the first place
When manually adding prospects to your database, your unlikely to have complete data. You might have a name and an email, for instance, but are missing a job title or role. To get round this, your probably guilty of guessing or leaving the field blank, immediately making it difficult to target this prospect effectively.
…the pace of change
Today’s pace of change is at the heart of data issues. For instance:
- People open new email accounts like changing their shoes
- You only have to glance at your LinkedIn feed to see how many people in your network have changed jobs in the past year alone
- Companies continuously move and merge
- New social media crazes pop up overnight
- Prospects preferences are constantly changing
Because of this, we need to gather EVEN MORE data about our prospects as well as capture their communication preferences and honor them.
…no consistent company wide data process
A huge cause of dirty data is a lack of consistency in the way it is inputted across your company.
One example of many is that sales might be filling the telephone field in your CRM with land lines, while marketing uses this field for mobiles. All well and good until marketing wants to run an SMS campaign and can’t effectively segment the data.
How Can We Solve the Dirty Data Problem?
We use the term “solve” loosely here. A little bit of dirty data is inevitable – in today’s world things just change far to quickly to eliminate the problem entirely. But by layering a number of solutions which work in a complimentary manner, we can achieve our goals for data quality and marketing effectiveness.
We are going to share 9 of these solutions with you now. The more of them you implement, the cleaner your data will be:
1. Maintain Complete Data
The best way to deal with incomplete data is to set important fields as mandatory, such as name, email address, phone numbers, and address. So, determine the fields that are most important for complete information and encourage users to fill in those important details.
You could use third parties that plug into your marketing automation platform or CRM to automatically add missing fields. For instance, if your contact is missing the company level detail (Industry, Main Phone, Country, Revenue), you can use tools to fill this in. The more data you have, the better you can target your audience.
2. Update Existing Leads
There are many steps you can take to prevent more dirty data being inputted into your database. However, dirty data lives within your existing database, and will continue to infiltrate your system as your contact data changes.
Data cleanup applications can be directed at segments of your database to bring leads up to date with new job titles, phone numbers and other vital data. These tools make it possible for your team to reconnect with leads that might otherwise be lost.
When you update existing leads, make sure you complete as many fields as possible in your CRM. That way, your data quality platforms can do a better job of removing duplicates or bad data.
3. Be Consistent
Standardisation is key to keep good data going in and makes targeting and generating statistics much easier.
Standardisation can include decisions on address abbreviations, date formats…etc. etc.
For example, if you let leads, or even company staff, type in the country of residence, then you’re going to collect inconsistent results. For example, residents of the United States might write “US,” “U.S.,” “USA,” “U.S.A,” or “United States of America.” To get around this, have those inputting data choose from a drop-down menu. That way, if you want to email all of your leads in the United States, you won’t leave any out because of dirty data.
4. Use Automation to Correct Values
If you have a marketing automation platform use its automated data cleansing as a way to fix any data entry errors, such as inconsistencies or misspellings.
4. Prevent Duplicates
Once you’re collecting leads, you want to make sure they’re not duplicates of leads already living in your database. Duplicate Leads don’t just cause confusion and inefficiency, they also derail reporting by associating data with the wrong contact.
Your CRM or marketing automation platform should have the ability to automatically find and merge duplicates. If not you can use an external application for duplicate removal. To ensure the duplicate is merged with the right contact, you’ll need to set master rule settings in your CRM. This way, all new data matching the master record, will automatically match and merge. If you have five records in your CRM, you likely only want to keep the lead source from the first/master record, but use all of the current title and phone number fields from the most recent entries.
Once you start to get some traction in building out your database, duplicates are inevitable, so keep an eye out for them manually too. Of course, you need to delete with caution, even when there is a duplicate. Open records, determine which has the most-up-to date data, and then merge accordingly.
5. Set Up Alerts
You could even use alerts to stay on top of your database. Say your platform automatically de-duplicates leads based on email address. But what if a contact comes in that has a duplicate first and last name on your form, but a different email address? If you have alerts set up, you can be notified and decide for yourself whether the record is really a duplicate.
6. Have a Regular Cleaning Process
Implement a filter to find records that have been inactive for a given amount of time and try and determine why those contacts are not participating in your marketing campaigns.
Once you’ve identified inactive leads you may decide that some of them are worth keeping, but proceed with caution – if those inactive leads are simply not interested, marketing to them may hurt your reputation.
Some anonymous leads will give false email addresses. You don’t want these polluting your database, so run smart campaigns on your marketing automation platform to automatically identify records with bogus email addresses and then delete, blacklist, or suspend these contacts.
Remember, cleaning your database once does not guarantee that it will stay clean and if left for too long it becomes a major chore! Add an eyeball process to sanity check new data – and the more frequently this happens the less of a chore it becomes.
7. Use Roles for Security
One best practice is to restrict access to data in your CRM or marketing automation platform. Define roles that will help you control the access rights of users. That way, users will only modify records that are relevant to them.
8. Make Someone Responsible for Data Cleansing
Make someone, or a group of people in your business responsible for the upkeep of your database. Get them to dedicate at least one day a month to checking and cleaning the information.
9. Confirm Accuracy
Confirm the accuracy of your data by cleaning your lists and double-checking by sending emails and waiting for any bounce-backs or responses indicating you have the incorrect person. After you confirm the accuracy of your list, you can expect a higher conversion rate.
Keeping databases cleansed so that they contain the most accurate and up to date records has always been important. Whilst it may be a labour intensive process, the rewards make it worthwhile, giving you a deeper understanding of your prospects and customers and adding significant value to your marketing efforts.