Guilty of Contact Hoarding? Follow These CRM Data Cleaning Tips

Holding on to every lead and contact you’ve collected through the years, hoping they’ll be useful for your business someday?

Your sales and marketing efforts can only be as good as your customer relationship management (CRM) database, so contact hoarding and an outdated database can do you more harm than good. 

In this blog post, we’ll discuss why you should stop hoarding contacts, what CRM data cleaning is, and when you should do some data cleansing.

Why contact hoarding can hurt your CRM efforts

Think of your database as your home and every contact as a piece of furniture or decoration. To maintain your home’s cozy atmosphere, you channel your inner Marie Kondo and ask yourself whether an item still sparks joy. 

You then declutter regularly to keep the pieces that bring you joy and donate or sell other items that you don’t need.

Your CRM’s database can also benefit from regular decluttering. Every year, data decays at an average rate of 30%.

If your contact list has become outdated, that’s like keeping trash in your database and having a less effective CRM because you’re not reaching prospects. 

You’re even spending time and money reaching out to prospects who are probably not receiving your messages because of incorrect contact information.

Here are other reasons you should not be afraid to let go of some contacts:

  • The health of every database—including yours—will gradually deteriorate.  A database needs its regular pruning to stay “healthy.”
  • According to reports, marketers lose up to more than 30% of their email contacts annually because of normal attrition. People leave companies and change email addresses. People move out to live in another city and change their addresses and phone numbers.
  • It’s hard to measure your email marketing’s success with a contact list that doesn’t get cleaned regularly. Your open and click-through rates are distorted figures. 
  • Sending messages to outdated email addresses will increase your bounce rates and lower your sender reputation.
  • An up-to-date contact list makes it easy for you to analyze data and draw better insights about your prospects and customers.

What is CRM data cleaning?

Also known as data cleansing or data scrubbing, data cleaning is the process of modifying or removing inaccurate, duplicate, incomplete, corrupted, or inconsistently formatted data.

CRM data cleaning is one of the processes of CRM data hygiene. The goal of data cleaning is to make sure your data is as accurate as possible. Think of it as spring cleaning, a task you do on a regular basis to make sure you’re not collecting clutter at home.

Similar to your spring cleaning, data cleansing is not a one-time effort. You can perform monthly, quarterly, semi-annual, or annual cleaning, depending on the amount of data that you have and your team’s workload.

When should you delete a contact from your CRM database?

Now that you know purging your database of contacts you’ve hoarded will make your relationship-building with customers more efficient, let’s take the next step: Delete them. But how do you know when it’s time to bid them farewell?

It’s time to delete a contact from your CRM database when it meets any of the following criteria:

1. The contact is not engaged.

A contact who has not engaged with your business for over six months—or longer if your product or service has a longer buying cycle—can leave your database. This contact may no longer be interested in your products or services.

Before you delete unresponsive and unengaged contacts, though, make sure you’ve run re-engagement campaigns (which we’ll discuss further in the next section) to confirm if they’re no longer interested in your business.

2. The contact bounced.

There are two types of bounces: hard and soft.

A soft bounce refers to an email that temporarily fails to get delivered. Some of the possible reasons for a soft bounce are a full inbox or a server that’s down. 

A hard bounce, on the other hand, takes place when an email permanently fails to deliver because the email address is invalid or the domain is no longer active.

Whichever type of bounce happened, delete the contact. The person is either no longer using the email address or your email is directly going to their spam folder. Remember that bounces hurt your sender reputation.

3. The contact unsubscribed.

Delete a contact that unsubscribed from you. They are no longer interested in your services—and explicitly expressed that by unsubscribing. Like bounced contacts, those who unsubscribed are clutter in your contact list.

4. The contact is a duplicate.

You can either merge your duplicates or delete the outdated copy. Duplicate contacts clutter your contact list, making it difficult for team members to find the correct contact information.


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4 CRM data hygiene tips for efficient relationship-building

Having a squeaky clean contact list is a great place to start. Now let’s go through CRM data hygiene process tips, so you can keep that contact list clean and your relationship-building as efficient as possible:

1. Identify the relevant and important data for your business

To make your data cleansing process efficient, you must know how you’ll use the data you collected. Doing so will help you identify which information is important for your business and which isn’t.

Ask your stakeholders to identify the relevant information they need. Does your marketing team need the sources where your leads came from? What customer information does your service team need to provide better customer support?

2. Create a data cleansing and maintenance schedule

Set a cleaning strategy and schedule. Having a schedule is important to keep your data up-to-date and to maintain your database’s cleanliness.

If your car has a maintenance schedule to ensure it’s always running in top shape, so should your database to make sure your CRM efforts are robust and efficient.

Set up monthly, quarterly, semi-annual, or annual reviews and data cleaning. Inform all the team members involved and set a recurring schedule to keep everyone on the same page.

3. Create documentation for your CRM data management’s standard practices

Have a live standard practices document of your CRM data management and share it with your team. The purpose of this documentation is to:

  • Provide guidelines for data gathering to make sure your team is collecting all the necessary information you need from prospects and customers
  • Provide templates to maximize your team’s efficiency
  • Guide team members on style rules such as capitalization
  • Guide team members on tips to keep your database clean and avoid contact hoarding
  • Reduce the number of errors in the future as you collect and maintain data

4. Run re-engagement campaigns to find out who’s still interested in your business

Before you delete an unresponsive contact, it’s best to make sure that they are no longer interested. The best way to find out is to run re-engagement campaigns.

You can send quarterly emails that check in on your contacts and ask, “Would you still like to hear from us?” or “We’d like to hear your feedback: How are we doing?”

Stop contact hoarding. Start cleaning.

Letting go of contacts who are no longer relevant to your business is one of the best ways to keep your CRM data hygiene in top shape. A regular data cleansing can improve your team’s productivity and ROI.

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