By Mark Ryba

A messy customer relationship management (CRM) database is just like an unclean house: The clutter makes it difficult to find what you need most.

Collecting contact information is a key part in your business development strategy, but inaccurate input, unsubscribed users, or outdated information can clutter your CRM and negatively impact your marketing efforts, sales productivity, and customer retention. Routine data cleanup allows you to focus on the contacts that will be important to the success of your operations.  

Whether you are cleaning your CRM for the first time or looking for a new approach, here are some best practices you can implement to routinely clean up your CRM.

What is data hygiene? 

Data hygiene describes the process of eliminating bad data to optimize your database and ensure you have only high-quality, relevant information. So what is bad data and what is good data?

  • Bad data includes irrelevant or outdated information, incomplete contact information, or conflicting data, such as multiple phone numbers for two contact inputs.
  • Good data is accurate, up-to-date, and consistent.

It’s important to know that good data isn’t just about accuracy. CRM data should emphasize quality over quantity. Remember that you are paying to store your data, so make sure the information is useful in improving your team, creating more efficient operations, and boosting your organization’s ROI.

How do I eliminate bad data from my CRM?

Determining what is good data and what is bad data is part of your data auditing process. At this stage, check on the condition of your data by seeing if it is up-to-date, useful, and relevant to your team. This will allow you to know what is worth keeping and what can be removed. 

In many cases, bad data is derived from mistakes in data entry, but you should also look out for these possibilities: 

Bounced or Unsubscribed Contacts

By creating a list of outdated contacts, you can delete them from your database by following this process.

Duplicate Contacts

During your cleaning process, identify and delete duplicates. Depending on your subscription level, HubSpot provides a duplicate management tool that uses machine learning to scan for duplicate contacts, companies, and properties.

Unengaged Contacts

It’s inevitable that some contacts are going to become unengaged over time. Although determining whether a contact has unengaged is not a perfect science, good rules of thumb for identifying unengaged contacts are: 

  • A contact that has never opened a marketing email and hasn’t opened the last 11 emails 
  • A contact that has opened a marketing email in the past but has not opened the last 16 emails

Manual scanning and elimination is often necessary. To ease some of the burden, HubSpot has a feature that skips over unengaged contacts in your CRM so that you’re only contacting people who have engaged with your content.

How do I maintain a clean CRM?


1. Determine who will clean the CRM.

CRM data cleanup will likely look different for each team. Regardless, it is important to establish a standardized approach to data cleanup. 

You might have a designated CRM manager who cleans on a consistent basis. Alternatively, you might prioritize cleanup as a team effort to ensure each team member manages the data they are responsible for. This option is useful for a larger organization that inputs large amounts of data more frequently, which might be unmanageable for a single team member. 


2. Establish a cleaning schedule. 

Once you have determined who will perform cleanup, establish a consistent routine. Rather than being hypervigilant and assessing the data each time a set is input, establish a monthly, quarterly, or annual schedule, depending on the amount of data you’re dealing with. 

This process will take some time to establish the right schedule for your organization, so you might start with an annual check-in. You could schedule your cleanup around other major annual events, such as tax season, and consider this your “spring cleaning” for data. Regardless of the schedule, your cleanup will lead to less clutter and more productive messaging to useful contacts. 


3. Standardize data input. 

One of the ways to make data cleanup easier on your team is by standardizing the input process to keep future cleanups to a minimum. An important way of standardizing the process is to set up property fields that automatically appear when contacts or companies are manually created. This creates consistency in the input process.

You can use this same strategy when prospects input their information into a form submission. Doing so provides information in key fields that brings value to your team. To make sure your data is consistent, check your contacts against key fields that a contact would not find value in. For example, a contact might not have a specific industry, so creating a “industry unknown” criteria would more accurately categorize this contact.


4. Utilize HubSpot’s integrations for assistance. 

To assist with the data collection and assessment processes, you can utilize one or several of HubSpot’s data management integrations:

  • ZoomInfo is a B2B software platform that contextualizes contact information from multiple sources to enrich the data and create a fuller picture without a lot of friction with the prospect.
  • Leadspace is most useful to sales teams because it maintains accurate data to optimize distribution of leads to the proper team member.
  • Insycle Data Management allows you to automate data cleaning through features such as bulk merging of duplicate records, standardized values, and record matching during data importing. 
  • Dynamics by SyncSmart provides lead intelligence data to your CRM leads and contacts, allowing you to segment and market to contacts effectively. 

5. Consistency is key.

There’s no one way of keeping a clean CRM, so it’s important that you standardize a process for data input and follow your routine for data cleanup. At the end of the day, your whole team should be using the same data to ensure solutions are made and your clients experience full-scale service.

To learn more about data hygiene, contact one of our marketers in development. They would be happy to talk about your goals for a more organized CRM so that you are receiving helpful insights and solutions.

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Mark Ryba

About the author

Mark Ryba is a Senior Developer who is passionate about creating incredible online experiences. When not experimenting with the latest front-end JavaScript frameworks, pushing CSS to new limits, or creating custom full-stack application solutions, you’ll find him with a camera in his hand, welding in the garage, or practicing to be the next World Champion of Darts. Read more articles by Mark Ryba.

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