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You're Only As Strong As Your Database: The Importance of Ongoing Data Hygiene

Posted on Jul 25, 2017

Streamworks Data Hygiene

Of the contacts in your database, how many do you think you have inaccurate information for? If your guess is anywhere near 32%, you’re right on target for the average American company. You might not think that having inaccurate or out-of-date data for 32% of your contacts is that big of a deal, but that defunct data can translate into 23% of your revenue lost – not to mention the loss of potential revenue. 

Your marketing efforts are only as strong as your database.

Let that sink in. You can have the best marketing strategy in the world, but if your database is riddled with poor quality data, you’re going to be sending your carefully crafted campaigns to dead ends. That’s dollars wasted and opportunities lost.

Clean data is essential for a healthy conversion rate. You need clean data to engage in effective lead nurturing, marketing automation, and qualifying leads.

You should already have a strategy in place for ongoing lead nurturing, using integrated marketing tactics such as direct mail, blogging, email, and webinars. To learn more about how direct mail fits into an integrated inbound marketing strategy, click here. Or click here for tips on how to execute a successful direct mail lead nurturing campaign.

To guarantee that these ongoing efforts are as effective as possible, you’ll need to straighten up that messy 32% of your list. Read on to learn how to organize your existing data and maintain the cleanliness of your database as you accumulate new leads moving forward.

Best Practices for Ongoing Data Hygiene

1. Purge your contacts.

First things first: You’ve got to get rid of the dead weight. It might pain you to see your contacts cut by a third, but when you consider that most CRMs charge incrementally by number of contacts, you actually stand to save some money by cutting out the dead weight.

The obvious contacts to delete are the people who have opted out of receiving your emails. However, don’t click select all/delete just yet. It’s possible that some of these contacts are engaging with your company in other ways, such as visiting your website, sharing your content on social media, or downloading an offer.

Contacts that have unsubscribed from your emails but are engaging with you through other means are still valuable leads for your sales team to follow up with. Use your CRM to evaluate the activity of each “opted out” contact before deleting.

Other groups of contacts you should be deleting include email addresses that have bounced (a high bounce rate damages your domain authority) and duplicate contacts (merge information to create a complete profile). Even contacts whose emails have bounced are worth taking a closer look at before deleting. It’s possible that the emails are bouncing due to a mistyped address, and the contact is otherwise engaged with you.

If you take some time on this process, you can be sure that all the contacts left in your database are valid and engaged, increasing the effectiveness of your future marketing efforts. Make a habit of going through this process once or twice a year to ensure that your contact list remains current at all times.

2. Streamline your fields.

Acquiring contacts from third party lists can be helpful in growing your database. However, a common pitfall of importing new lists into your database is merged data fields. A merged data field means that two pieces of information get stored in the same field. For example, first name and last name both imported into the first name field. This can be problematic for a variety of reasons, such as when you want to personalize salutations or subject lines.

How you avoid merged fields depends on how the data is being imported. Merged fields can result just as easily from manually inputting new contact data, especially if someone is inputting many new contacts at a time.

When importing third party lists, go through the data file before importing to make sure that each piece of data is given its own column. It might feel like a tedious extra step, but it will make a huge difference in keeping your database clean, streamlined, primed for segmenting and personalization.

To minimize human error, turn free-response fields into drop down menus if your CRM allows it. This will standardize the categories and reduce the likelihood of mistyped data.

For data acquired organically through forms on your site, provide clear and specified form fields. Featuring just a first name field might encourage more sign-ups, but including separate first and last name fields will prevent people from submitting both in the same box and will result in cleaner data. Delete any unnecessary fields to help keep data clutter to a minimum.

3. Organize workflows.

Just because your data is clean doesn’t mean your CRM is. In the process of acquiring various lists and designing workflows for different campaigns, many marketers wind up with a database so disorganized they can never find the list they’re looking for or match the right workflow to the correct campaign.

Establish a standard naming convention for every list and workflow you create in order to keep your database as organized as your data, maintaining consistency no matter who is importing or segmenting the data. Don’t forget to turn off a workflow once the campaign is over.

If you don’t already have a standard nomenclature, this might mean going back through old lists and workflows to apply the new naming conventions. Trust us, it’s worth it. While you’re at it, take the opportunity to delete any lists or workflows that are out of date.

Database organization is not a set it and forget kind of thing. You have to engage in vigilant, ongoing data hygiene in order to keep your database streamlined and effective.

For help tackling data hygience, sign up for a FREE database assessment. We'll evaluate your current strategy, give pointers on how to keep your data updated, and identify key touch-points to maximize your marketing dollars. 

Free Database Assessment

 

Tags: database services, data hygiene