By CommenceCRM

The Importance of CRM Data Cleansing

illustration of a robber and a laptop

Accurate information housed in your customer relationship management (CRM) system is important if you want to reach customers and prospects at the right time, using the right channel. However, studies estimate that 30% of company databases grow outdated yearly. The errors and inconsistencies in your CRM data make it difficult to gain reliable insights. 

So why is it important to clean your data regularly? Bad data can waste your time, effort, and resources — impacting your overall ROI. Tedious as it may be, habitual data cleansing and organization can actually improve the way your marketing, sales, and customer service teams work.

The Impact of Bad Data on Your Bottom Line 

When was the last time you organized the customer data on your CRM platform? If it has been a few years, you might encounter issues the next time you try to communicate with your customers. 

If you’re in the B2B industry, companies encounter many changes; your contacts may have left, the company may have hired new leaders, or they simply moved their business address. A similar situation also occurs in B2C, albeit more rapidly as customers change their phone numbers or switch email addresses. 

Bad data is defined as information that is incorrect, outdated, duplicate, improperly formatted, low-quality, or completely missing from your marketing, sales, and customer database. Instead of being able to utilize this data strategically, bad data could actually cause you to commit errors in your marketing campaign or sales interaction. 

Human error is often the cause of bad data; it can’t be avoided if you’re relying on people to input data by hand. You are more likely to find names typed in the wrong case, bouncing email addresses, or blank fields which can be frustrating. Aside from being confusing, bad data can also cause problems within your business. These include:

An ineffective marketing campaign

Customers love it when companies put in the effort to give them a personalized experience. However, mistakes in your database can lead to wrong personalization: opt-outs, email delivery errors, or higher spam reports. Aside from missing an opportunity to build a relationship with your customers, you might end up wasting your marketing budget on the wrong prospects and lower overall customer satisfaction. 

A negative brand perception 

Prospects who might have been interested in your products or services could change their mind if they feel like your brand is not right for them. Maybe you recorded the wrong birthdate or gender for a potential customer and ended up placing them in the wrong demographic. Getting critical information wrong could cost you a good brand perception. And since you would only have a limited number of interactions to attract your target audience, it would be difficult to win them back or develop a good relationship with them. 

Issues with optimization 

If your campaign strategy failed to meet expectations because of bad data, you may never realize what your mistake was. The effects of bad data tend to stay hidden because prospects would never let you know about the problem. If the fault was in the data, you might end up second-guessing your message or your strategies which might have connected with your audience otherwise. 

Company-wide effects

Unfortunately, it’s not just the marketing team whose performance suffers because of bad data. The information that marketing uses is usually shared with sales and customer service so a poor record would make it hard to appeal to their customers. For example, your sales reps might try to use the data only to spend more time verifying the information because it wasn’t reliable. 

Even though data has grown to be one of the most important things for any business, it can be so time-consuming to clean bad data that many companies opt to purge their inconsistent records rather than fixing them. However, totally purging your data without trying to salvage it can cost you valuable insights. It is crucial to establish data cleansing techniques and find an effective data management tool. 

5 Ways to Clean Your Data

Data cleaning or data cleansing is the process of detecting corrupted records from your CRM system. You can either address the inaccuracies or remove outdated information altogether. With the right system, you can fully maximize the power of quality data. Here are a few ways to do so: 

Tackle formatting first.  Formatting is the most common problem you would see in your CRM database, especially if entries were done by hand. It is a reality in data collection because sales reps might be too busy to fill everything out properly or your leads don’t answer forms the same way. It’s up to you to facilitate uniformity after receiving the data or else finding and filtering prospects will be a chore. 

Fortunately, formatting inconsistencies are easiest to spot. One strategy you can do is to set up a formatting rule for each field. Names should all be capitalized formally while unwanted characters and whitespaces should be deleted. Decide on a rule for abbreviations like “Street” versus “St.”. Titles and industries should also have a rule for uniform terms like “CEO” and “chief executive officer”. 

Fill in the gaps. Performing a data audit can help you identify information you do or do not have in your system. Identify the gaps in the data based on a set of fields you need. Let’s say you want to focus on your contact’s name, title, email, phone, and industry. You can highlight what is missing and find ways to fill in the gaps. Most people indicate their title or position on LinkedIn, for example. To save yourself time and energy, prioritize the customers who are most valuable to you. 
Address duplicates.  Merging datasets often results in redundant fields or entries. Sometimes, a duplicate is created when an exact copy of a record in the dataset is created as a separate entry. This is usually done when two different salespeople enter information that can threaten productivity. It’s not uncommon to hear stories about sales reps ready to reach out to a prospect only to find duplicate entries with contradictory data.
Purge outdated entries.  When you collect and store data over a long period of time, the information ages out and becomes irrelevant. Most likely, many contacts are no longer engaging with your contents or have unsubscribed from your mailing list. Identify those who haven’t engaged with you for a long time and delete them so that your data storage doesn’t get bogged down. It’s also a good strategy to remove contacts who never reply, whose emails bounce, or whose phone numbers are incorrect. If you’re reluctant to get rid of everything, you can also archive data that is 18 months and older. 
Create a data quality plan.  Setting up expectations and rules for your data can help you track data health and maintain data hygiene. Identify data quality KPIs and figure out how you will meet them. Knowing where most errors occur can help you effectively address the issues at its root cause. Before data is entered, employees should follow a standard operating procedure and collect relevant information only. You can also create a system for updating data and validating information in real-time. 

Techniques For Maintaining Data Cleanliness 

Cleaning bad data can be easy if you have ample time and resources. The challenge is building a data cleansing habit that sticks. Many companies plan to clean out their data yearly but get put off by the number of contacts they have to sort through manually. 

Remember that data cleaning is a process, not a one-time project. Like the contents of a refrigerator, data expires and needs to be routinely cleaned out. Some techniques you can employ are: 

  • Limit the number of administrative users to lower the possibility of creating duplicates. 
  • Train sales reps to standardize data entry, document the process, and share information to other CRM system users. 
  • Set up a regular maintenance schedule for cleaning CRM data and processing archives. 

Commence CRM: Keep Your Data Organized 

A good CRM solution can help you spot duplicates and correct inconsistencies automatically and regularly. After all, CRM tools are supposed to support you in engaging with customers. Commence provides the best-in-class CRM solution for small to mid-sized businesses. Contact us today to learn more about our products.