5 Tips for a clean database

When was the last time you checked your contact list? Like medical check-ups, cleaning data is not a fun activity for anyone.

But of course we want our database to work for us, not against us. So it is important that we keep it updated as much as possible so we can deliver the right message to the right people.

If you’re not sure where to start cleaning, read on.

1. Fix duplicates.

It’s inevitable — there will always be duplicates in your contact list. Same name, different email address. Or it can be the other way around — same email address, different name. Duplicates can lead to skewed data in reports, a messy directory, and simply confusion, so make sure you double-check your contacts.

2. Remove inactive contacts.

If a person has been on your list for more than 2 years yet has not opened a single message or interacted with your organization, it’s time to delete them. You can also choose to set their status to Hidden, which retains the contact’s records in your database for archival purposes but makes it unsearchable.

3. Enter missing details.

Sometimes we add a new contact in a hurry and now we realize the data is incomplete. Check each contact profile to fill in any missing fields, even the basic ones like their salutation or birthday. Try to be as consistent as possible: for example, one contact might have an address spelled out as “Negros Occidental”, and another contact might have “Neg. Occ.” listed instead. If necessary, you can also import additional data from a spreadsheet, Outlook, or any CSV file.

4. Review groups, dates, and templates.

Go over your groups to see if it’s time to either create or remove one. Check which customers are nearing the end of their subscription, so you can set up email reminders. Edit any email template that needs to be updated, and make sure you’ve sent a “thank you” to every one who donated at your last fundraiser.

5. Validate existing information.

This will be a more meticulous task — sometimes, people do change their email address, earn a new job title, or move to another office. So once in a while, reach out to your contacts personally to confirm that your data is still valid, and that you are not wasting time or money mailing a formal letter to the wrong address.

It takes time to keep a database healthy, but you will thank yourself eventually. The more you clean your data today, the easier your work will be tomorrow.

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