It’s spring-cleaning season – Don’t leave your database in the dust!

Data management system, cloud technology, Internet and business concept.It’s spring-cleaning season which means that many hardworking homeowners are busy trying to organize their closets and homes in preparation for the spring and summer. Spring cleaning is not just a household chore. As businesses collect an increasing amount of data, it turns out there are many similarities between spring cleaning and the steps a business must take to ensure their data is clean, organized, and consistently updated.

Data cleansing is the process of going through all of the data within a database and either removing or updating information that is not complete. Like a cluttered house, databases get cluttered with duplicate data, disengaged contacts, incorrect data and other forms of disarray that need to be cleared out.

Data cleansing and organizing can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Follow the tips below to help ensure your data is clean, which will help improve efficiencies in your business.

1) Identify Duplicates: Proactively scrub your data on a regular basis and eliminate duplicate leads as they come in. Look at both lead records carefully, determine which has the most pertinent data (i.e., email address or phone number), and then merge the records accordingly. Your marketing automation platform and CRM should have guidance for automatically removing duplicate lead records. This also comes in handy when you’re uploading lists as you don’t want to create a bunch of duplicate records every time you bring new contacts into the system.

2) Standardize data input fields: Your forms should help to minimize the space for human errors like misspellings and incorrect inputting of information. As much as possible, avoid text entry fields on forms, using drop-down menus and/or pick lists instead. Ideally, you’ll want to have a standard and automated method when it comes to acquiring data, in order to reduce human error.

3) Remove Inactive Contacts: Make note of 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? Not every contact who refuses to engage with your content will unsubscribe. They may not have made the effort to officially cut ties. You should consider them “passive unsubs” who waste your time and effort. Once you’ve identified inactive leads, the next step is up to you. (1) run a reactivation campaign that compels them to opt in again to your contact list or (2) drop them from your list altogether. Moving on can be good for all involved as continuing to market to them may hurt your brand’s reputation.

4) Make your Database Uniform: Consistency 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.” This will make it very difficult to pull data for reporting, by adding a drop-down option, you will eliminate a data disaster.

5) Eliminate Junk/Fake Data: Some people like to remain anonymous when signing up or registering for your list. You may find leads will write in “itisme@gmail.com” or “blahblahblah@mymail.com” to avoid sharing their real email addresses. You don’t want these nonsense leads corrupting your lead database, so run smart campaigns to automatically identify records with bogus email addresses and then delete, blacklist, or suspend these contacts.

When organizations prioritize data cleansing, they can lower operational costs and maximize profits. Data cleansing can also help businesses improve the decision-making process, streamline business practices, and increase productivity.

The biggest takeaway for data cleansing is that it can help businesses achieve their goals.