5 Steps to a Squeaky Clean Database – Marketo

Bad data infiltrates every database, in the form of duplicate contacts, irregularly formatted leads, and junk records. You can’t keep all bad data from entering your database, but once it’s in, you need to clean it out. Here are 5 ways to keep your database clean and in compliance.

1) Identify Duplicates

Once you start to get some traction in building out your database, duplicates are inevitable. So proactively scrub your data on a regular basis and eliminate duplicate leads as they come in.

Of course, you need to delete with caution, even when there is a duplicate. So dive into both lead records, determine which has the most pertinent data (i.e., email address or phone number), and then merge the records accordingly.

But who wants to sort through a database of thousands (potentially millions) of leads? That’s why your marketing automation platform and CRM should have rules for automatically de-duplicating lead records. This also comes in handy when you’re uploading lists — you don’t want to create a bunch of duplicate records every time you bring new contacts into the system.

2) Set Up Alerts

You can use alerts to stay even more 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 proactively decide whether the record is a duplicate or not — after all, some people have the same names.

3) Prune Inactive Contacts

Consider implementing a filter to hone in on records that have been inactive for a given amount of time. Why aren’t those contacts participating in your marketing campaigns? Are they still working for the same company?

Once you’ve identified inactive leads, the next step is up to you. You may decide that some of your them are worth keeping, but keep them with caution; if those inactive leads are simply not interested, marketing to them may hurt your brand’s reputation.

4) Check for Uniformity

Uniformity is key to a clean database, 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, you’re bound to collect inconsistent results. 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. Of course, being the smart marketer that you are, I know that you will segment these leads on a much more granular level, such as region, company size, or interest… but that’s another story.

5) Eliminate Junk Contacts

Some anonymous leads will write in “asdf@gmail.com” or “blah@hotmail.com” to avoid sharing their real email addresses. You don’t want these garbage leads polluting your lead database, so run smart campaigns to automatically identify records with bogus email addresses and then delete, blacklist, or suspend these contacts.

You might be wondering whether you should delete employees of your competitors. Often, competitors will subscribe to learn (and potentially imitate) the ways you market to your customers. You can’t really consider these “leads” and there is no reason to market to them. On the other hand, if you delete them, you’ll loose potential insight into their strategy.

Have you used any of these techniques? How do you keep your database clean? Let us know in the comments below.