It’s that time of year again. Things are starting to grow and it’s time to tidy up the debris of the winter so the garden will look its best. It’s not a bad time to review the data in your CRM system either. After all, metaphorically speaking, over time your data landscape will change as new information is added and the validity of old data fades away. Making sure it is always at its best is a continuous process.
Quick reference style guide
A good starting point to a pristine data landscape is having a quick reference style guide that succinctly shows business development professionals, personal assistants (PAs), fee earners, partners and others the correct way to enter data into the system. It’s one of the first things I did when I took on the role of Data Steward at LexisNexis and it has paid dividends in terms of helping everyone in the organisation enter data accurately.
In my role as Data and Direct Marketing Executive, I am the Data Steward for the Lexis InterAction CRM system at LexisNexis and am continuously preparing the ground for fruitful business intelligence.
In order to make sure data is accurate and complete, I review all data changes and additions, adhere to the style guide on a daily basis and flag up any omissions. I also make sure the data is categorised correctly, for example by industry sector or job function. Having the correct categorisation means we can analyse the data more easily and produce reports and/or lists for business development and marketing activities.
But my day-to-day work isn’t just reactive, it’s also proactive. I’m always keeping my ear to the ground and watching the press, newsletters and media like LinkedIn to identify contacts that have changed jobs or firms, retired or left the industry. And of course, bounce-backs from e-mail marketing campaigns need to be investigated and appropriate changes made.
On a weekly basis, I’m running routines that allow me to weed out old or inaccurate information and looking at how we can improve its quality. This includes flagging companies that have gone away or out of business, eliminating duplicate data, reviewing companies that do not have contacts or a contact type assigned – as well as updating contact and company data.
Lexis InterAction provides a wealth of out-of-the-box searches that can help assess the quality of your data and I run these on a monthly basis. They’re brilliant for providing partners, fee earners, PAs and business development professionals with intelligence about their contacts and the organisations they are focusing on. They’re also excellent for helping me pre-empt any potential problems and measure quantitatively how I have improved the quality of data over time (and, very importantly, good for showing progress at my annual review!).
The final piece in the data quality puzzle is archiving unwanted data. Over time redundant data will build up in the system and here it’s a question of deciding on the rules for pruning it. For example, two of the rules I use are that data is archived if there has been no activity with a contact for two years (email/call/response to marketing activity); and/or the contact is not known by anyone in the company. There is no point in cluttering up the system with irrelevant information.
So there we are. Data cleaning may not be the sexiest of activities, but keeping on top of it enables you to supply clean, targeted lists to marketing, reduce bounce-backs and target business development and fee earner activities more accurately, which builds confidence and re-assurance in your CRM system.