How to clean and update your database in 7 Steps

Marc Wahba • Last Update : 18.01.23

The quality of your database has an impact on the success of your marketing actions. Incomplete or outdated data result in waste of time for your employees. In addition, processing wrong information can reduce your sales. Avoid this by cleansing your database periodically. To carry out this operation, follow our 7 steps.


1. Defining an action plan

Cleaning your database is a serious task. Before you start, set up a meeting with all the departments using the file. Ask everyone to explain how the database helps them in their work, which fields they use, how they enter information, etc. Understanding the purpose and use of the sales, marketing, accounting, legal or customer service departments enables you to organize the actions to be carried out. Now is the time to define a relevant unique identification key (for example, email or company number).


Planning


2. Creating a backup of the database

Prior to any data processing, create a backup of your file. This backup may be useful in the event of a problem or error during the update.


It is good practice to create backups of your database frequently and not only when cleaning it. In the event of a cyber-attack, you will be able to recover all of your data quickly.


3. Removing or completing data

During your meetings with the various departments, you probably noticed that some fields contain few entries or none.


If these fields are unnecessary for the completion of your actions, remove them. They clutter your database needlessly.


If they should be filled, complete your data. Ask one or several persons to search for and add the missing information.


4. Inactive data removal

Analyze your database statistics. Notice the date of the last interaction: opening a newsletter, placing an order, etc. In view of these figures, make a logical decision: if a prospect has not responded for over a year, is there a good reason to keep him in your file? Reducing the database weight reduces storage costs and data access time.


5. Updating or erasing obsolete data

Data are a living and perishable matter. People move or change jobs; companies change their names or stop their activity. Data obsolescence happens even faster in B2B than in B2C.


Again, assign someone in your company to update information. Some lines must be removed because they cannot be updated. This is the case for companies that no longer exist.


6. Duplicates merging

Duplicates appear frequently in databases. They are the result of human errors or different identification keys between departments. For instance, marketing uses email address to identify customers; accounting uses the customer number.


Your CRM probably has a duplicate detection feature. If not, you can use a spreadsheet such as Excel or Google Sheets. Is your database very large? Use a specialized tool or service.


Merge all redundant fields you found. By doing so, you will reduce the size of your database and increase efficiency.

7. Data normalization

Formatting differences are often found in databases. Addresses are encoded with abbreviations; others are spelled out. Dates can be recorded in a short or long form. These non-standardized data may make it difficult for you to use your database. Correct the fields by applying the standardization rules defined in the first step. Remind your staff of these standards to ensure that in the future, data are entered correctly.


Once these 7 steps are completed, your database is fresh again. Your business actions are more successful, and your employees can focus on essential tasks. However, to maintain its quality, your database must be cleaned frequently. Plan this operation as often as needed to benefit from the full potential of your database.

What is Data Management?

Data management is one of the most important disciplines for making business decisions and conducting activities that will benefit the business.

Why is it important? What processes should be in place? What are the best practices? Here's everything you need to know about it.

Marc Wahba
Author Marc Wahba

Marc is responsible for software development. He developed the technology used for the Infobel software, website and other directories.

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