Cool, you have your CRM in place, in fact it’s been up and running for some time now and is working like a champ. Your customer database is growing daily and your email newsletter has never had so much reach. Hurray!
One second. Don’t get all celebratory just yet. How many of those contacts are incomplete, inactive, or otherwise just clutter? Don’t know, do you? The final step in setting up your CRM for success is to have a database maintenance plan in place.
Database maintenance basics
Like any database, a CRM can get clogged with useless data. In this case, that generally looks like one of these:
- Duplicate entries: Either because someone forgot their password and just created a new account, or maybe they simply misspelled an email address and tried again, duplicate entries can cause problems down the road when it comes to keeping your messages from being considered spam.
- Incomplete entries: Maybe someone decided against signing up part of the way through the process.
- Non-standard entries: If your form is set up to allow free-form entry, you never know how someone might spell Wyoming.
All of these examples highlight how crucial it is to clean and maintain your CRM database. Some of the results of that bad data include your bulk emails being marked as spam due to malformed email addresses, your customers becoming annoyed when they receive the wrong email or duplicate emails (even when it’s their fault for signing up twice), or the customer may have moved down the funnel and be expecting client communications and are instead continuing to receive sales messages.
And that’s just embarrassing.
Before you start having palpitations thinking about how you’re going to clean your 1,000s of contacts, never fear—there’s an app for that.
CRM database cleaning and maintenance tools
If you jumped in feet first and went right to Salesforce, you’re in luck since that’s what Dataloader was built for. This cloud based tool lets you upload and scrub your data from within the CRM itself, no need to export or import anything. That also means no fiddling with file types or needing to make sure you got the whole database and not just one category, or any other form of data shenanigans.
Another Salesforce specific option is DemandTools. This scrubber provides multiple setting options, as well as a convenient and simple to navigate dashboard interface. Just select what type of bad data you’re looking for (duplicate, malformed, etc.) and set the tools loose on your data. Then you’re given a chance to scan and accept or reject recommended changes before they’re made final.
This one’s a bit different. While Insycle does have integrations for Salesforce, it also has modules for Hubspot, Marketo, Intercom, Zendesk, and more. That makes Insycle the swiss army knife of CRM data cleansing.
With these integrations baked right in, you never have to worry about exporting your data, converting the files, etc. You simply open the Insycle module inside your CRM interface and turn it loose. This added convenience also means you can delegate maintenance to a team member, since anyone with access to the CRM automatically has access to the cleaner.
Insycle will also help you when it comes to standardizing fields. Say it finds multiple cases where people input a state with a misspelling, that’s your signal to change that field to a drop down, with each state abbreviation entered correctly. This eliminates that field from possibly causing troubles in the future, and helps maintain the integrity of your customer data.
Bonus: The same convenience factor means that when it comes time to present reports all you have to do is create the dashboard and share the view with everyone who needs to see it.
Similar in many ways to Insycle, Neverbounce focuses on your email list to ensure you don’t waste time and money sending emails to un-monitored or inactive inboxes. Like Insycle, this tools has integrations with most major CRM systems like Hubspot, Salesforce, Marketo, and more.
The tool works by scanning your email list in real-time, giving you the certainty of knowing that each message will be going to an active account, eliminating the flood of bounceback errors common to bulk email operations. Neverbounce works on most international email servers, as well as domestic US servers, and it conducts a domain check along with account checks, so you can also feel secure that you aren’t sending messages to a server known for sending out viruses, for example.
All of this functionality is accessed via a user-friendly dashboard interface, from right inside your CRM of choice. And in cases where you’re using a custom CRM solution, Neverbounce engineers are available to assist with setting up an API connection so you can still take advantage of their feature set.
No list of database maintenance options would be complete without a mention of the old-school, grand daddy data cleaner of choice—Excel. Export your data into a .csv file, then import into Excel and go to town manually hunting down malformed email addresses, misspelled city names, and duplicate entries. You can bulk edit fields to standardize things like state, province, or country names, and even run checks to be sure zip codes are correct.
Then you save this newly cleaned and edited .csv file and re-import it back into your CRM. There is of course a drawback, aside from the manual nature of the process, and it’s a fairly major one. You have to do this repeatedly and on a regular schedule to ensure your database stays clean and up-to-date. And that means someone on your team needs to be well versed in Excel and ready to take on this project on an ongoing basis.
Data matters. Customer data might just be the most important piece of information a business possesses. Therefore keeping it organized, standardized, neat and tidy is critical to maintaining an accurate accounting of your client facing activities. It’s also critical to keeping your mailings from being considered spam, or worse, from having upset clients getting the wrong information. Setting up your CRM was the first step, keeping it clean is how you can ensure you see the best possible ROI from that investment.
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