Today, people are following all kinds of “cleanse” fads; from juice cleanses, to smoothie cleanses, to broth cleanses; all with the same idea to detoxify the body and leave it feeling healthy and refreshed. The same principal can be applied to your customer and lead database. Regular data maintenance and cleaning will remove the “bad” data and leave your list with only “good” and pure data. No matter how clever and well-executed your marketing efforts may be, without good data, they cannot achieve their full potential. Whether you contact your leads by phone, email or traditional mail, you want your data as organized and digestible as possible.
The following tips will help clean up your data, thus allowing you to focus on your job: attracting leads and converting them into customers.
1. Plan Ahead
You’ve decided it’s time to go through and clean up your data; but you can’t just jump in and start without a process in place. There are several points to consider when creating a data cleaning plan: Are there any weaknesses in your data? What data fields are most important for your marketing goals (name, email, company, etc.)? If certain data is missing, what are the next steps to track it down? Who should oversee the cleaning process? Once the plan has been finalized, communicate it to those within your department, as well as any others who might be affected.
Are some contact names listed “First name, last name” while others are “Last name, first name?” Do you have multiple contacts from the same company, but the company name is in a different format for each? Establish a standard for all data on your list, and empower your team to stick to it. Consistency throughout your database makes it easier to find specific contact details and allows you to identify missing or duplicate information.
3. Remove Duplicates
Duplicate information not only pollutes your data but also results in sending duplicate correspondences to the same contact, motivating them to request removal from your contact list altogether. When several people are working on the same data list, the risk for duplication is high; fortunately, there are tools you can incorporate into your strategy that will identify duplicate information so that you can easily correct or remove it.
4. Dump Unneeded Data
It may give you a certain satisfaction to fill out an entire row for a contact in your database. But are all the open text fields necessary? Ask yourself what information you absolutely need, and what information you can forego to keep your list more organized and easier to navigate. Excess data in your list means extra work to slog through and clean up.
5. Regularly Monitor, Evaluate & Update
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and even with the best intentions and the best tools your data cleaning process will not be perfect when you first start. Once you get your process in place, your work is not finished. If you made any errors during setup, periodic monitoring will allow you to catch them before they develop into a larger problem. Monitor the list on a whole and scan through individual accounts and contacts. When you go back to check your list, it is a good time to re-evaluate the plan you have in place. Does the process still make sense for any shifted goals or efforts? If not, make the necessary changes to keep up with your evolving marketing strategy.
Even if you feel like your process for data cleansing is in a good place, it should be a continuous undertaking. Regularly audit and make improvements. Remember, even though data may not be the most exciting part of your job, it is imperative that you have complete, high-quality data to get the most out of your marketing.