3. Merge Duplicate Records
“At the same time marketing keeps importing contact data (such as .XLS or .CSV format) into the CRM without correct fields or data scrubbing from ongoing events or campaigns. What happens then is that issues like contact duplication tends to get messy/dirty over time when it is not maintained or administered regularly.”
James Pollard from The Advisor Coach agrees:
“For example, one person could have interacted with your company using two different email addresses. If that's the case, you can send the same follow-up message two times to the same person. It sends a message to the prospect that you're unprofessional and don't know what you're doing.”
So how do marketers eliminate duplicate contacts in their CRMs? We heard several suggestions.
Nathan Heider at Campaign Creators uses a manual process inside HubSpot:
select which of the two contacts you want to hold the information
click ‘Actions’ under the name of the contact
type in the name of the contact you want merged
While some companies get rid of duplicate contacts only occasionally, we heard from several marketers who do it regularly.
“Our organization typically will reduce duplicates and fix incomplete data in our CRM once every quarter to keep the database clean and reports accurate,” says Colton De Vos from Resolute Technology Solutions.
During the cleanup process, the team will “go in and decide to either merge the duplicate deals / contacts, delete one, or keep them both. This can get a bit tricky as some of the data may be correct in both but ensuring you keep the right info can be hard if you weren't the one to enter it.”
“The clean up process often involves reaching out to the people listed as the Owner of the 'contact' or 'deal' and determining what should be kept.”
DDI Development “made a process of routinely reviewing and checking for duplicates in our workflow continuous instead of just a one-time commitment,” says Alexandra Zelenko.
“Once again, we use Insycle to identify duplicate contacts. Of course, HubSpot does not allow you to enter a second contact with the same email address. But, given that we capture leads from a variety of systems and sometimes do not always capture email addresses right away, we often end up with multiple records for the same person. We might only know their phone number initially (in the case of inbound phone calls) or they might have used a different email address when they filled out a second form. So, in Insycle, we search for contacts with the same phone number or the same first and last name and then merge them when it is appropriate. Insycle allows us to find duplicates based on any field value being similar, so we can quickly spot and merge records.” shared Gabriel Marguglio from Nextiny Marketing, a heavy user of Insycle.
Bryan Gorman also from Nextiny explained this further. For background, he told us they use software like AirCall and CallRail for capturing phone leads. “And that leads to some weird data in HubSpot. In order to create a lead in our HubSpot CRM, CallRail auto fills the email field property with [phonenumber]@call.com. This is a mess when we are creating lists and having to segment by ‘Email does not contain @call.com.’”
“Fortunately, using Insycle has reduced the time needed to fix problems like this and lifecycle issues from 2–3 hours to 30 minutes per client.” Marguglio added.
But, it is not just about saving time.
Marketers agree that eliminating duplicate fields is key for effective marketing and sales. “[By merging duplicate fields, we] get accurate and up-to-date data that help to improve relations with clients, maximize upselling and cross-selling, etc.” added Zelenko.
Merge & Eliminate Duplicate Fields
Sometimes there’s more to the problem than having two contacts for the same person. You might have information duplicated within contacts, which takes up extra space and makes your entries more complicated than they need to be.
Casey LeBrun from Revenue River told us about his agency’s process:
“For example, we get all the salespeople together to decide on which job titles we want to collect. This final list will differ from the duplicated properties and their fields that you already have.”
“From there we use automation to copy the existing property values into our new standardized values. If there is a field with no match, we will bucket that under another field.”Michele from MKT4EDU outlined a simpler process: “I define ONE main property to receive the information and clean the others (remove the value and delete).”
But, the source of duplicate fields with similar information on individual records is not just salespeople or marketers.
“[A] SaaS company may be pushing usage data to the CRM about their customers' product usage with the platform/application,” says SmartBug Media’s Drew Cohen.
“With integrations like this that involve APIs, there is a tendency for things to get over-complicated. Time in platform, engagement metrics, etc. tend to be a common area we see duplication with multiple fields having similar names and data.”“When we run into this issue, we first like to audit all of the fields that are coming from the source. In this example, the source would be the SaaS platform/application. We look at all of the fields that are being pushed to the CRM from that source, and this audit is the foundation for what will turn into the cleanup exercise.”
“We determine where any duplication issues exist, then set up workflows to move data from one property to another, if necessary. With marketing automation tools/CRM workflows, this is a fairly efficient process if the audit is comprehensive and a cleanup strategy is in place!”
“Using the aggregate feature with Insycle,” says Chris Hobbs from Eyeview, “we were able to quickly and accurately transfer data from [duplicate] fields into new fields.”
“We have better data to work with and reduced our field counts making input and reporting much more efficient. We saved time getting more accurate data that is easier to understand.” shared Hobbs. Cohen agress, “The positive impact of this is a drastic reduction in overall CRM fields, as well as the amount of data that sales and marketing professionals are required to sift through.”
Delete Bad Leads
Marketers recommended different criteria for identifying contacts that can safely be deleted from a CRM.
“Typically when we find incomplete data for a contact, we speak to stakeholders to determine if these are viable, qualified contacts or not,” says Adventii’s Matthew Boyle.
“More often than not, we end up deleting all incomplete contacts within the CRM, focusing on only contacts that have complete information.”“Once cleaned, companies no longer waste their time following up on leads that are unqualified or icy leads.”
Gem Latimer from BabelQuest finds that “[h]aving a significant number of contacts who have either hard bounced or unsubscribes” is a common problem. You can’t email them, but they take up space in your system—which could mean you’re paying more.
“Being able to track the number of hard bounces and unsubscribes is a big plus here.”
“We use HubSpot and use the lists tool to pull them into one place, before going through and figuring out if: a) they are not needed and can be deleted b) if they are an active prospect or customer and need some outreach to ask why they unsubscribed (or update their email address if it was wrong) or c) unbounce them if it was a system error.”
Nectafy uses a HubSpot filter to find dead leads, says Gabby Shultis.
“The exact parameters vary across clients, and how their sales team identifies a dead lead,” Shultis says, but these are common criteria:
Contact's time of last visit > X days
Contact hasn't opened an email in > X days
Contact has not subscribed to the blog
“By removing all of the client's dead leads, they are able to shift their focus onto the contacts in their database that matter—those that actually have a chance of becoming an MQL, SQL, or potential Customer.”
Whatever you Do, Create a System and Use It Often
No matter how you decide to clean your database, it’s important to have a system. Once you’ve created a set of rules that your sales and marketing teams can follow, make it a habit.
That’s how you’ll prevent more errors from happening in the future.
Of course, there’s no way to completely obviate the need for database cleaning. But if you can create a system that works and make sure your teams use it, you’ll save yourself a huge amount of time in the long run.
Learn more here about how Insycle can help HubSpot users cleanse data and improve their data operations on the whole.