5 Simple Stages to Gain Data Hygiene

by | Dec 20, 2019 11:37:01 AM | Marketing Operations and Execution

Data hygiene is critical to your marketing campaigns. Let's think about it for a minute: How many customers does your company have? What about leads? Do you have a list of all of your employees?

The number of people one company knows and accumulates data on can be vast, which is where data hygiene plays a huge role in ensuring the information you need is readily available and easy to use when starting to create different marketing campaigns for your audiences. But, what are the steps to making sure you have data hygiene?

At 1 Bold Step, data hygiene is an ongoing practice that we manage with the 5 following stages for our clients. These 5 stages will ensure data stays organized, is easily accessible, and readily available for their next marketing campaign. 


Stage 1: Data Audit

The first step to data hygiene is to understand and document what makes a "good record." But this can differ from one company to another. In general terms, a “good record” is categorized by either a contact or a company record that has complete and accurate contact data. This includes having:

  • The correct first and last name of the contact person, along with the correct capitalization
  • The correct spelling of everything in the data fields
  • The complete and up-to-date address of the business if applicable 
  • The correct and complete phone number of the contact
  • The accurate email address of the person or business

This is not a full list of important things to have cleaned in your database, but it gives you a good example of where to start. By all means, other information is always welcome to be added to your record, so long as it is correct, up-to-date, free of spelling, capitalization, or punctuation errors, and helpful to the record.

Is your data missing some of this accuracy? 

Typically, our audit is done through an initial discovery meeting with key stakeholders which includes the sales team, the support team, the marketing team, and the IT team. 

The definition of a “good record” for that company is then created by going through each field in their current database and setting clear parameters for what is/is not required, validations that are currently required, and accepted data formats.

Once the current state of the data is documented, the future state can be discussed and mapped out. This usually results in the addition/deletion of some data fields and a list of programmatic changes that need to be made. Depending upon the system, we either make the changes for our clients or manage the process by working with their internal IT team. 

This then leads us to the initial data cleanse.


Stage 2: The Initial Data Cleanse

The initial data cleanse is comprised of applying the new field validations and definition of "good records" to the current system. This results in a smaller list when incomplete and archiving the records that are considered “bad.” 

The second step is the application of data matching to catch and merge duplicate records. There are many programs for this. But the good news is, many CRM systems, like HubSpot, now have some form of both exact and fuzzy matching algorithms. 

Once a list is cleaned to this level, partner databases like NCOA can be used to check for mailing accuracy and services like NeverBounce are run to pull soft/hard bounced emails from the list. Have you put your data through one of these partner databases? If not, you could have multiple contact records that you’re wasting your time with. Don’t wait! Reach out to us and we’ll make sure your data is clean and clear. 

Once the initial data cleanse is completed, we can move on to the data append. 


Stage 3: Data Append

This stage is an optional service we perform for clients who have a large number of incomplete records.  Through the use of large business (DnB, for example) and consumer (Equifax, for example) database append services, existing records can be updated to provide missing firmographic (SIC Codes, revenue, etc.) and demographic (household income, rent/own, etc.) data. 

After an optional data append is completed, we then start entering the data into our client’s CRM system and provide them with training on how to keep their data clean. 


Stage 4: Data Entry Standards/Training

This is an extremely important step in ensuring that data stays consistently clean. With our process, we audit all the points at which customer data enters a list to ensure that field validations are right. If they aren’t correct, you will run into problems down the road and may have to redo steps 1-3 again to ensure you have the best possible data in your system.

Ongoing training for the employees that do data entry is also an important part of this process. This ensures that they know how to correctly enter a complete and “good record” into the system. This typically includes a dedupe process before a new record is allowed in the system.

Who’s training your employees to keep your company’s data clean?

And lastly, we continue this process with the ongoing data hygiene stage.


Stage 5: Ongoing data hygiene

For ongoing hygiene, our process relies upon automated error reports that prompt programmatic and sometimes, manual clean-up as well as the use of Key Performance Indicators on all outbound communications. Email open rates, hard/soft bounces, and unsubscribes are just a few of the metrics that should all have acceptable targets set so that when performance starts to drop, we can evaluate the list and send it back through a cleaning service. The same process can be used for postal list hygiene through "return service requested" batched mailings.

When going through all 5 of these stages, your company’s data will begin to show greater signs of hygiene, making it easier for you to make sales calls, start a mailing campaign, send out follow-up emails, and more. 


How clean is your current data?

We can help clean it by taking it through our 5 stage process! Just contact us to get on the path of clean, complete, and accurate data. 


About 1 Bold Step

At 1 Bold Step we believe that everything can be more efficient, but especially marketing. Acting as an extension of a client’s marketing department (onsite or virtually), we help create systems, order, and accountability. With a focus on increasing sales and proving return on marketing investment, we’re determined to change marketing from overhead to value add. 


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