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Spring Cleaning: Contact Database Edition

What does spring bring us aside from a change of season and clocks? Spring cleaning. But I’m putting a new spin on the traditional to dos you may be familiar with; this is spring cleaning: CRM database edition!

That’s right. Not only will I be sprucing up my own home this season, but I’m taking it a step further and applying it to our CRM databases at Wheels Up, too. I urge your business to do the same. In this blog post, we’re sharing the why, what, and how of CRM database clean up.

Image of a green landscape with wild flowers

Why do you need to clean your database?

Did you know that 30% of your database goes bad each year? Shocking, right? It’s important to keep your database updated to reflect the most relevant and current contacts. Tossing out old contacts that no longer bring value to your organization allows you to stay current, save money, and free up space for more engaging contacts.

What is the cost of not cleaning it?

Of course, allocating the resources and time to clean up your database may sound daunting, but in the long term, it will pay off. Take Hubspot's CRM subscription model, for example. Businesses use it to store contact data for inbound marketing, sales, and customer service. Hubspot’s subscription pricing is based on the number of contacts a business has stored. If a substantial percentage of your contacts are outdated or otherwise unuseful, that useless volume stored in your CRM might be bumping you up to the more expensive subscription level that you don't actually need. Imagine if you discovered that a majority of marketing contacts you paid to store were outdated. I think you’d be eager to make some changes to save your business money - that’s why I’m sharing simple ways to get started.

How to get started

When cleaning your database, you’ll want to examine the data you have and decide from there what data should be cleared out. You’ll want to be on the lookout for the following type of contacts: Unengaged contacts, duplicate contacts, and hard bounced contacts. These are quick fixes - they can be easily removed. Let’s walk through each type in more detail so you’ll know them when you see them.

1. Unengaged contacts

Unengaged contacts are people in your database who are no longer interacting with your content. Whether it's promo emails, newsletters, or any other marketing outreach, these contacts haven’t engaged within the last, let's say, 6 months. Pick a timeframe that feels right for your email cadence. It could be much shorter or longer than that.

In an effort to save you time, most CRMs offer ways to filter for contacts who haven’t recently engaged; there’s usually an option to remove them in bulk. For example, if you’re using Hubspot as your CRM, you can search contacts according to the "last marketing email open date" property and sort for those who haven’t opened recently. This is a great way to find less engaged contacts.

2. Duplicate contacts

You may not be surprised to learn that duplicate contacts are common discoveries in database cleanups. Matching contacts can be created when a contact import action didn’t account for the existing data records, if a customer submitted their information more than once, or if a customer interacted with a new email address. Of course, there are plenty of other ways besides the ones I just shared; what’s important is knowing how to remove them and learning how to keep duplicates from happening again.

Some CRMs offer duplicate scan checks that can identify identical contacts. Other CRMs, like Hubspot, use machine learning to identify any duplicate contacts but you have to have a professional or enterprise subscription to access the feature. One way to prevent the issue in the future is contacting your CRM support to see if they have a feature to block identical contacts. If they do, it’ll save you the headache in future database cleanups.

3. Hard bounced contacts

Contacts are marked as “hard bounced” when emails are returned to the sender as a result of a permanent error on the email recipient’s end. When you send an email to a contact in your database and it hard bounces, it likely means that the email address is invalid. This is one of the most important types of contacts to scrub out. It's a waste to allocate database space to contacts who aren’t even receiving your marketing outreach. To remove these contacts, filter for database entries flagged with a hard bounced status. Create the list and delete them. If you’re using Hubspot as your CRM tool, check out the email bounce tool - this feature can help you create a list of hard bounced contacts to remove.

Database cleaning - is it only in the spring?

Depending on the size of your database, the first clean up could take hours or even days. Don’t let that discourage you. Once you’ve made it through the first big cleanse, you’ll soon realize the subsequent cleanups won’t take as long.

You’ll need to establish a routine in order to maintain your new, squeaky-clean status. How often you clean your database will vary depending on the quantity of data and the rate at which new data gets added. Some businesses with larger, more active databases may see value in cleaning once a month, and others, every quarter. Establish a realistic schedule that works well for you and your team.

If you have any other questions for database cleanup, please reach out. We’d love to hear from you.



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