Why and how to keep a centralized, clean customer database

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Most of the businesses maintain different databases for client information and it often becomes a nuisance to keep everything synchronized and well-managed. Exporting data from one platform to another and trying to resolve conflicts and dependencies can become really hard to do, especially when dealing with large amounts of data. It’s thereby a recommended practice to keep one centralized database which contains and maintains all of the useful data. Read more here how a central database can go a long way in making business operations more efficient.

Inbound marketing strategies have changed the fate of millions of companies (for the better) all over the world, by increasing leads (often exponentially). However, not all the generated leads are useful; in addition to prospective clients, you will have many competitors filling out your forms just to get a feel of your services and will eventually make their way into your client database. Additionally, vendors who have the sole objective of selling you something can also infiltrate your customer database software and rest there without ever “becoming customers”. Overtime, if periodic cleaning of the database isn’t done, this accumulation of undesirable data can be more of a problem than at first apparent. We have made a list of steps that you should take in the attempt to make your database cleaner and more optimized:


1. Remove inactive contacts:

Implementing a CRM system is a step in the right direction but in order to maximize productivity, you have to always keep tabs on your contact database. Contacts that have been inactive for an extended period of time should be pruned, if and when sought viable. This can be done by querying the database to return inactive users for a specific period of time. Once you get a list of contacts, try to ask the following questions: “Why are these contacts no longer taking part in the marketing campaigns?” “Have they switched companies?”

After figuring out the nature of the inactivity and examining each contact’s situation, it’s up to you to make the executive decision of keeping the contact or dropping them. Here, it’s always recommended to not hopelessly follow leads that are clearly not interested because that can be very damaging for the company’s reputation.


2.  Duplicate identification:

Your marketing database software is your key to ultimate success and that’s why it needs to be kept clean and efficient. To ensure this, duplicate identification and removal is absolutely necessary. As soon as a company gains a reputation, it’s virtually inevitable for duplicates to start piling up in the client database. It’s recommended to periodically run checks on the database to find and remove duplicate leads. Even with duplicates, extra care has to be taken while deleting records. Before you do, scrutinize both lead records excessively, find out which has the most data and then merge both the entries.

Most CRM software also provide with automatic duplicate deletion which comes in very handy and can save you from the troubles of doing the drill yourself.


3. Setting up alerts:

A good CRM database software allows you to set up alerts that get triggered when certain actions take place and allow you to keep everything in check. For example, instead of letting your CRM automatically delete duplicates, you can have an alert setup that prompts you whenever a duplicate is spotted. This can prove to be essential in a scenario where two leads have the same first and last names but different email addresses (among other scenarios where manual checking can help).


4. Uniformity is key:

A contact database software can’t be clean if it isn’t uniform. However, maintaining uniform is by no means a child’s play; let’s suppose that you allow your leads to type their country of residence instead of letting them choose from a drop-down, this will eventually lead to inconsistencies in results. People hailing from the United States will give you entries like “US”, “USA”, “U.S.A”, “United States of America” and “U.S” etc. which will be a sucker blow to your database’s uniformity.

This is particularly why your CRM should be able to carry out automatic cleaning of similar values; otherwise while sending out emails to all people from the US, you might end up missing a few because of dirty entries.


5. S-Marketing:

Smarketing is a term that depicts the process of aligning sales and marketing. As the marketer goes through the contacts, conversing with the sales team can help a lot in finding out:

a) Which leads are still not ready? And why aren’t they?
b) Which leads should be given the top most priority?
c) Which were the most common problems that were faced by the leads?
d) Which were the most frequently asked questions by your leads?

Answers to the aforementioned questions can aid a marketer in performing better segmentation of the leads and can also help in discovering content to promote.


6. Junk contacts are a No-No:

Your contact database will inevitably contain anonymous leads that will put in fake emails like blahblahblah@gmail.com or asadfasda@hotmail.com. These junk leads can’t be allowed to pollute the database because it’s a wastage of resources, if nothing else. A sophisticated CRM system can allow you to run a search and identify records that have bogus data, which can eventually be suspended or removed from the system.


7. Monitor email campaign results/feedback:

It’s also recommended to maintain a close eye on the process opt-outs, mutations, bounces and email results. Based on your observations and findings, clean your database after every email campaign gets dispatched.


8. Adding contacts to the “quiet” list:

There should also be a “quiet” list that should be maintained in a customer database. This can contain potential partners and possible competitors that have filled out your form. Obviously, you won’t be proactively marketing to them so they can be kept in a quiet list (to prevent them from getting emails).

It’s important however to not delete these records because they can, in the future, be used for marketing; for example, if you are organizing a conference, looking for partners or conducting a webinar.


Now that we have seen ways to keep a database clean, let’s talk about some of the tangible benefits that a clean CRM database software can provide:

1. Cut out costs:

One of the most obvious benefit of a clean client database is that you save a lot of money. Nobody wants to pay to send emails to email addresses that don’t even exist. When you run periodic checks on your database to maintain a clean reservoir, your email lists end up being precise and better suited for delivering positive results.


2. Precise campaign stats:

If your contact database contains bogus email addresses, some of the emails you will send won’t be opened, clicked or engaged. If these contacts stay on your email list, the campaign statistics won’t paint an accurate picture of your marketing efforts. A clean database is devoid of unwanted lead records and that goes a long way in ensuring that the campaign stats are categorically correct.


3. Effective target marketing:

If a contact database software can be trusted to only have verified lead records, then it saves the marketing team from wasting precious time emailing bogus leads. Post-cleaning and segmenting inactive-active emails, you can perform target marketing more effectively.


4. Sender reputation protection:

Spam complaints, subscriber level engagement, spam traps and bounces determine how good your sender reputation is; which is an important factor of email deliverability. Maintaining a clean database will ensure that you have a clean mailing list, which will eventually ensure that your sender reputation remains protected.


5. Elevated conversion rates:

Obviously a bogus email address will never convert. A clean client database system will also elevate your conversion rates as it will no longer contain any bad records with bad email addresses. When emails get received and engaged by people, the conversion rates are bound to increase.


6. Increase the possibilities of maximizing revenue:

A database that contains bogus records is inevitably going to hurt your sender reputation by coming up with email lists that contain undeliverable email addresses. A company with a bad sender reputation can see its emails getting placed in the spam folder (instead of the inbox) more frequently. A clean customer database however can help in generation of perfect email lists that get excellent inbox placement and engagement which eventually leads to elevated lead conversion numbers and better revenue possibilities (via segmented targeting).


Having a sophisticated CRM system that ensures that the customer database remains clean and devoid of unwanted records at all times can be a real asset for a company. A unified, state-of-the-art system like Act! CRM can bring an end to all data management and cleansing worries as it’s the one-stop solution for contact management. Making a small initial investment will eventually (inevitably) prove to be viable in the longer run as you will save enormous amount of resources (time, money and energy) by being able to target the most deserving leads.

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