Dirty Little Secret: Contact Dupes Sabotage Results
When it comes to our CRM systems, de-duping our data comes last on our list of priorities. It seems like a small thing; how destructive can it be to have a few duplicate records in your databases Maybe, for some companies who are new to the marketing operations world, that’s accurate, data de-duplication is the least of their worries. But for those of us who utilize our CRM systems to track Performance data, we must act now to change that way of thinking, because there’s just too much at stake. Marketing has made the shift to live in a digital-first world, which means our content we produce is optimized for and utilized on the internet. It also means we are able to observe, study, and take advantage of customers’ digital footprints to connect with them in a more authentic and meaningful way. In short, as we collect information on customers, we use it to make better marketing decisions.
There is much more identifying customer activity data than there used to be, and it’s much more tightly tied to our individual marketing activities or tactics. The sheer volume of data we use in marketing today means we need to pay closer attention to it, or the problems we face will be compounded accordingly.
Problems caused by duplicate data
Contact duplicates are a type of dirty data that causes two kinds of problems:
- Duplicates cause mistakes.
- Salespeople can lose sales because account owners and their activity are recorded in two places.
- If a salesperson consults the wrong record before making a call, he or she might take the wrong action.
- If there are two records, marketing might neglect to attach campaign activity to one of them, and again Sales could make incorrect assumptions.
- Duplicate records can cause incorrect campaign and segment measurements, because extra records change results.
- Duplicates keep you from taking full advantage of marketing technology features.
- Duplicate leads, for example, result in incorrect campaign tracking and ROI information, which in turn affects our ability to make marketing decisions.
- On the most basic level, duplicate contact records waste time and occupy resources that could be better used elsewhere.
- Duplicates can cause marketing, sales, and finance stakeholders to not trust the data.
- This can affect adoption of CRM, marketing automation, and Marketing Performance Management programs.
- This lack of adoption can lead to dissension, and reverting to the old, non-digital tools of tracking marketing data.
And who could blame the dissenting stakeholders? Bad data can sabotage campaigns and make the company, including marketers, finance stakeholders, and even salespeople who have in-person contact with prospects, look foolish.
Best practices for de-duping contact records
Marketing and sales departments must complete two cleansing and standardizing tasks to assure successful de-duping of contact records. First, the data itself must be regularly cleansed and dupes identified through a search and match function and merging of records. Second, processes related to data must regularly be examined and adjusted to assure data integrity.
Follow these basic de-duping best practices to assure duplicate records are not sabotaging your marketing efforts:
- If contact record management software is not included within your CRM or marketing automation program, integrate a data management add-on to handle cleansing of data, including de-duping.
- Because contact records and the information associated with them flow bidirectionally between CRM and marketing software, it’s important for both software programs to provide de-duping, so records are cleansed before passing from one to the other. This reduces the chances that incorrect data is used for campaigns or sales activities.
- Ideally, your software should identify duplicates immediately as contact information is entered, either manually or automatically through web forms and other external sources. This real-time identification of duplicates helps expedite corrections, so both sales and marketing teams can be assured they are using clean data.
- Choose data cleansing software that allows you to merge records both automatically and manually. Automatic de-duping usually hinges on matching of email addresses, but some systems provide a second marker for more confident de-duping. When records are automatically merged, end users should be notified of duplicate leads, so appropriate action can be taken.
- Check to make sure your software includes provisions for backup of previous contact versions in case mistakes are made and you need to revert to previous information.
- Do a CRM audit, which identifies processing issues related to data, as well as testing the data itself to determine what could be improved, including contact duplication issues. Once an audit is completed, data experts can suggest actions to assure the cleanest possible contact data.
Avoid sales and marketing mistakes, save time and resources, assure accurate engagements with buyers and build confidence in your CRM and marketing systems by cleaning up your dirty data!
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