Your customer relationship management (CRM) software can contain thousands of contacts. But that information won’t help you drive sales and marketing leads if you can’t trust it. Every bounced email, unanswered call, and misaddressed message hurts your outreach efforts, and ultimately, your bottom line.
This in mind, it’s no surprise that some companies estimate they lose over 10 percent of their annual revenue due to poor data quality—and that doesn’t even factor in the stress that bad data causes their team. Your CRM data needs regular check-ups, and data cleaning is a necessary process to ensure your customer data is accurate, consistent, and actionable. But this becomes an increasingly heavy lift as your contact list grows and your reps struggle to juggle everything on their to-do lists.
Simply put: Your marketing and sales teams can’t effectively manage data maintenance alone. They need a tool to help. Luckily, there are many cost-effective or free data cleansing solutions that make the process easier and keep your team focused on engaging customers and prospects.
Let’s explore common data cleaning needs and some of the best data cleansing tools available to help you streamline your search.
Data hygiene matters at every step of your customer lifecycle, from when a customer first shares their information through a web form, to when your reps update that profile based on their ongoing interactions with the customer. The issue with all customer data is it quickly deteriorates in quality.
These are just a few reasons why your customer data becomes stale:
Too often, your reps don’t know if data is incorrect or outdated until they attempt to reach out. If they’re lucky, they’ll receive a bounceback or some confirmation that they have failed to reach their intended recipient. But oftentimes, your reps won’t know the contact is stale—and will keep contacting the old email or phone number with no response.
Savvy marketing and sales leaders try to instill the importance of data quality in everyone at the organization and empower reps to catch bad data before it leads to bad decisions. But that’s easier said than done.
At its core, data cleaning is about keeping your data accurate and ready to use for your sales and marketing outreach.
Data cleaning requires your team to continually review your customer records, add missing fields, identify potentially inaccurate data, merge duplicate records, and a handful of other tasks that we’ll explore below.
Regardless of how many records your CRM contains, there are two main ways to clean your data:
Manual reviews may be sufficient when your business is small and your CRM contains limited records, but anything larger becomes too much to handle effectively.
Most teams need the right technology to effectively maintain their data quality. Let’s explore why.
Data cleansing tools—also called data scrubbing or data cleaning tools—review your data sets, identify data quality issues, and flag issues for your review or automatically correct them. These tools can analyze massive volumes of data significantly faster than a human can.
Plus, machine learning capabilities make them more powerful the longer they analyze and update your data.
Most data cleansing solutions provide capabilities like profiling, standardization, deduplication, verification, and ongoing automation and monitoring. Advanced solutions can even access third-party data sets to validate email addresses or home addresses for you.
Let’s look at a few common data cleaning tasks and how a data cleansing tool helps:
High-grade data scrubbing tools can cost several hundred to thousands of dollars a year, but they quickly pay for themselves. The costs of poor data quality are entirely avoidable, and an AI-powered tool can fix your data sets significantly faster than a human can. Remember: every error caught means time saved for your team.
Automation capabilities are an especially powerful feature of most data cleansing tools, meaning your team can stop wasting time on routine, time-intensive tasks and focus on what matters: helping your reps attract new customers and providing better service to your current ones.
Finding the best data cleansing tool for your business needs can provide immediate benefits and significantly help your team in reaching their goals. As you assess your business case for adopting a data cleaning solution, consider these team-specific benefits:
When your customers need help from your team, it’s crucial you engage them in highly personalized and accurate ways.
Your customer support team needs to understand a customer’s history with your brand, if they’ve sought help for similar issues in the past, and any information that can help them turn a potentially bland interaction into a relationship-building opportunity.
Everything from how you address the customer to when and how you reach out is important information to keep in your CRM. However, duplicate profiles can make it difficult to get this full-picture view of a customer when it matters most.
A clean customer database will help your marketing team accurately segment customer lists and better understand how effective your marketing campaigns are.
By ensuring each individual customer profile is complete and correct, your reps can confidently approach contacts with relevant offers and accurately track the success of those efforts.
If your database is overrun with duplicates or incorrect addresses, your team may think your strategy is less effective than it actually is—which will make it much harder to set your marketing strategy.
Your CRM is an essential tool for your sales teams to track leads and understand where your customers are within your funnel. For example, are they just now getting to know your brand? Are they considering making a purchase? Or are they a loyal fan that shops regularly?
Clean and trusted data ensures your sales reps always reach out with the right message in the right way, which is critical for preserving your customer relationships. Using a data cleansing tool will also streamline your work and ensure your reps aren’t working the same lead in tandem—a major waste of team resources that could deter someone from shopping with your brand.
Revenue teams analyze your work across sales, marketing, and customer success to identify ways to drive more sales and increase your profitability.
Just as a clean CRM will help your sales and marketing teams more accurately reach prospects and convert them to customers, your revenue teams can run reports in your CRM to understand your customer pipeline trends and ways you can optimize your results.
With everyone working from a consistent set of data, you can test new strategies and adapt your approach much quicker and with more confidence.
Now that you have a solid understanding of what a data cleansing tool can do, it’s time to explore your options and make your choice.
There are many data cleaning tools available, each offering different features or pricing options that appeal to specific needs. We recommend researching data cleaning options and asking for a demo, if possible, to see each tool in action.
As you prepare to research your options, we recommend you ask the following questions:
We’re biased—but we believe our data cleaning solution, Validity DemandTools, is one of the most versatile and secure ways to clean and maintain your CRM data. DemandTools is used by more than 16,000 Salesforce organizations who rely on features like bulk, on-demand email verification, recurring automation of data quality routines, real-time duplication prevention, and mass-scale data management capabilities.
Working with trusted data is the most efficient way for your business to reach new buyers and deliver a remarkable experience for your existing customers. Although most data solutions will cost thousands of dollars a year, they easily pay for themselves through time saved, greater accuracy with your outreach, and a more enriching employee experience.
Looking for more resources to better understand the importance of data maintenance and ways to improve your data quality? Download our ebook The Dirt on Data Quality today.