Keep It Clean: 6 Way to Clean Your Marketing Automation Data
Good data is the lifeblood of Sales and Marketing. It is critical for prospecting and required for data analysis – so it is essential we keep it clean. However, most companies struggle because they have no data policy enforced.
According to Sirius Decisions:
25% of your marketing automation database goes bad each year…
….and even worse, 10%-25% of databases have errors that prevent you from doing your job effectively.
This is a big problem for marketers in the marketing automation space. After all, you’re spending time and money on your marketing automation programs, only to find errors in your database preventing you from effectively targeting your audience.
There is also a major impact on Sales organisations. One sales rep calling 12 wrong numbers a day wastes 20 hours a month!
Your marketing automation platform is a clean slate when you first buy it, and it’s up to you to fill it with accurate data – and keep it that way!
Here are some marketing automation data cleansing principles to help you along:
1. Be consistent
Uniformity is key to keep good data going in – but it’s also a challenge.
For example, if you let leads type in their country of residence, rather than choosing from a drop-down menu, 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.”
That’s why your platform should be able to automatically clean similar data values. 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.
Avoid letting sales or leads use a field like “comments” repeatedly as this can result in a variety of data, which isn’t structured. Create a process to timestamp and record the history.
With these standard fields and clear instructions on how to enter data, you’ll reduce the human error.
2. Use automation to correct values
Today, email reputation, choice of language, and customer experience matter even more because mistakes can go viral in minutes.
Use your marketing automation platform’s automated data cleansing as a way to fix any data entry errors, such as misspellings. Also, have a standardised field entry process. For example, if your field is Employee Range, only a number must be entered there to represent the number range of employees.
Make sure you define your data management rules before you start putting any data in.
3. Prevent duplicates
Many marketing automation platforms charge based on number of records, so if you have duplicates you could end up paying for the same data multiple times.
Have settings in place within your marketing automation platform that block the creation of duplicates based on name and email and apply this to your CRM as well. This also comes in handy when you’re uploading lists — you don’t want to create duplicate records every time you bring new contacts into the system.
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 pertinent data, and then merge the records accordingly.
4. 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, the next step is up to you. 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 brand’s reputation.
Some anonymous leads will give false email addresses. You don’t want these polluting your database, so run smart campaigns 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.
It should only take 2 minutes each morning to eyeball all the new records entered and weed out bogus email addresses and other inconsistencies. When done as part of someone’s daily routine bigger periodic reviews become much simpler and quicker. If you leave it as a monthly or quarterly process then it becomes a bigger, more boring task which is likely to be ignored – leaving you back where you started!
5. Automate data appending
For empty fields or bad data, use third parties that plug into your marketing automation platform to automatically add the 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.
6. 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 a duplicate or not.