You are here

Get your data squeaky clean: rescuing dormant contacts

Some of the data you think is useless can be revived. In fact, it could be just what the doctor ordered to get your campaign results backs on track. Here are some tips for cleaning up your data and keeping it ship shape:

1. Naming conventions
Standardising naming conventions can make a huge difference to your data quality and help to keep it in order once you’ve sorted it out. Develop, apply and share naming conventions with everyone who adds data to your CRM, marketing automation system, spreadsheets and any other systems you use. Not only does this apply to contact names, job titles and industries but also to your marketing campaigns; so you can instantly find out what a contact has been sent.

Create guidelines around data capture to ensure that everyone is working to the same rules and data is only added in standardised formats. There are some helpful tips on how to develop this in this article: Where is the file? A naming convention template for marketing documentation.

Once you’ve decided what the names are, the big job of applying them has to be tackled. It will be worth it in the long run, as organisations with clean databases see response rates that are, on average, three times higher than those with dirty ones.

2. Keeping it regular
Once you’ve gone through the painful process of cleaning up the database, keeping on top of it is imperative. Although it seems like a job that can always wait, it really isn’t difficult to schedule monthly clean-ups. ‘Monthly’ may seem too frequent, but research by SiriusDecisions has shown that the amount of data held in B2B organisations’ databases typically doubles every year - for most companies, that’s going to mean several hundred new contacts every month.

Then set up validation processes for data that is fed in automatically from web forms to ensure that those fake names are not slipping back in. Do the same for data that is captured at tradeshows and events.

Vigilance is the name of the game in keeping databases healthy and delivering value. Between 10% and 25% of B2B marketing databases contain critical errors – don’t let yours be one of them!

3. Assign responsibility
It’s an unfortunate reality that in most organisations, everyone thinks that database management is someone else’s job. The 2012 Data Quality Insight survey, which researched 291 businesses, revealed that no fewer than 10 different job titles in these organisations, ranging from the CEO to the Customer Admin Manager, were responsible for data quality.

Although 66% of the respondents in this survey said that data quality is very important, only 40% of them had an enterprise-wide data quality management strategy. A measly 14% of them classed their data as excellent (meaning accurate, relevant and valid). So it’s not surprising that data quality is high on the list of concerns for today’s marketing professionals. As the report summed the situation up: “Who is responsible for data quality? Notionally, everyone = in practice, no-one”.


1. Marketing Profs. Doc, What Can You Do for My Marketing Headache? A Data Prescription

2.  FireMatter.  Where is the file?  A naming convention template for marketing documentation

3. Sirius Decisions. The Impact of Bad Data on Demand Creation

4. Capscan. Data Quality Insight