Data is your biggest marketing and sales asset. You collect data from various sources, but nothing has as high a value as a form submit or order form. However, as your data accumulates it will become essential to keeping your data clean. Your online forms can really help you in structuring the data the way you would prefer to receive it. Here are some tips on keeping your form data collection clean:
- Drop Downs – Using drop downs are perhaps the best way to make sure your data is consistent. Having consistent data enables marketers and analysts to run analysis on groups of data without having to standardize the data. Some examples of fields include States, Country, Industry values, Job Titles, Sizes and so much more.
- Formats – Having a formatted data can ensure that the data is usable. For example, having the same phone number format will ensure that you are able to use auto-dialing technology for your outbound marketing.
- Mandatory Fields – Nothing can be more annoying than having incomplete information. Without a first name you cannot personalize your emails, without geographic information you cannot run geo-targeted campaigns, and so on. Having mandatory fields will require the users, site visitor and customer fill in all required information which will ensure data completeness.
Of course, even the best of efforts to keep your data clean can fail. Just like dust collects in your house, bad data does creep in. If your CRM receives data from sources outside the website, and as your business evolves over time, data will become dirty. Before you can take steps to clean your historical data, here is how you would define clean data. Clean data is data that is consistent, complete, current, correct and de-duped. Here are the steps that you can take to clean your historical data:
- De-dupe – Making sure you do not have any duplicates in your CRM is your step one. Duplicates cost money, can be a PR nightmare and have a negative impact on sales. To de-dupe, you can either use an automated de-duping tool or hire a data cleansing company such as StrategicDB which offers both.
- Incomplete data – While you may have collected complete data on your website form, your other sources were not that great. You can identify incomplete data and have a third party data provider append the missing data or simply flag those records. Flagging records will allow you to exclude these records from certain campaigns and analysis.
- Outdated Data – If you have been in business for a long time, you will probably see a higher bounce rate on certain records. While you can verify your data to decrease the likelihood that it will be bounced, you cannot stop data from aging. Having data created can help you analyze your performance based on the time the contact was acquired and optimize your marketing campaigns.
- Inconsistent data – While your forms have a drop-down menu now, they may not have had it previously or other sources have different values. For example, for States you may have had TX or Texas as a field. This makes it difficult to remember all the different combinations, especially for fields such as industry, job titles and so on. You can normalize such data to clean out historical data and follow strict rules whenever you are bringing other data into your CRM.
In conclusion, using form submits can help keep your data complete, consistent and in the right format. If your data is outdated, duplicated, inconsistent and incomplete due to other sources of data or historical data you can clean your data to match the high-quality data from your forms.
Anna Kayfitz is C.E.O. and founder of StrategicDB Corporation, an analytics and data cleansing company. Anna has over 10 years of marketing and analytics experience with companies such as Oracle Marketing Cloud (Previously known as Eloqua), Harlequin Enterprises, Sunwing Travel Group and a few start-ups. She also holds an MBA from a top business school in Canada.