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HubSpot Data Hygiene and Cleaning Best Practices

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

Published January 21, 2022 By Klim Lugovtsov

Collecting contact and company information is a key part of any customer acquisition strategy; but inaccurate input, unsubscribed users, or outdated information can clutter your CRM and negatively impact your marketing efforts, sales productivity, and customer retention.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 clean-ups allow you to focus on the contacts that will be important to the success of your operations.  

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Clean data, dirty data, data cleansing, data hygiene - these are all ways of discussing the quality of data in your CRM. Whether you’re cleaning your CRM for the first time or looking for a new approach, this blog will help you understand what data hygiene is and how you can improve and maintain the quality of your HubSpot portal database. 

What is data hygiene?  

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

  • Bad data is irrelevant or outdated information, incomplete contact information, or conflicting data, such as multiple phone numbers for two contact inputs.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 remember that good CRM data isn’t just about accuracy; good CRM data should emphasise quality over quantity. Remember that you’re paying to store your data, so make sure the information is useful in improving your team, creating more efficient operations, and boosting your organisation’s ROI. 

What should I do with bad data in my CRM? 

A HubSpot portal audit is a good place to start differentiating between good and bad data on your portal. It involves checking the condition of your data in terms of its usefulness and relevance to your team. This will allow you to know what to keep and what can simply be removed.  

Unsure on how to run a HubSpot portal audit? Check out our blog. 

In many cases, bad data comes from mistakes in data entry, but you should also look out for these scenarios:  

Bounced or unsubscribed contacts 

HubSpot advises two options for cleaning up unsubscribed contacts and contacts with hard bounce e-mails: 

  1. Create an opt-out list and keep them in your CRM database as ‘do not send to’ contacts  
  1. Delete the contacts  

Not sure which option to take? At the end of the day, you’re best suited for making this choice. Our recommendation would be to review these contacts and associated companies (look at your contact timeline for any activity) before bulk deleting. You may want to find new e-mail addresses for some of these people instead of deleting them.  

Duplicate Contacts/Companies 

As part of your HubSpot portal cleaning process, you should always identify and consolidate duplicate contacts and companies. Depending on your subscription level, HubSpot provides a duplicate management tool that uses machine learning to scan for duplicate contacts, companies, and properties. Alternatively, if you have HubSpot operations Hub, you can run a custom-coded duplicate contacts workflow to catch and merge duplicate contact records using any unique contact property.  

Unengaged contacts 

It’s inevitable that some contacts in your HubSpot CRM will become unengaged over time. Whilst there is no right or wrong way of determining whether a contact is unengaged, good rules of thumb include: 

  • A contact that has never opened a marketing e-mail and hasn’t opened the last 11 e-mails  
  • A contact that has opened a marketing e-mail in the past but has not opened the last 16 e-mails 

Manual scanning and elimination are 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. 

We strongly recommend running a re-engagement campaign to try and bring these contacts back to life.  

For whatever reason, contacts will sometimes remain inactive after re-engagement campaigns. These dead leads will only add clutter to your contact database and harm your sender score; removing them will save you a lot of time, money and hassle. 

How to clean up your HubSpot CRM Data 

Determine who will clean the CRM

CRM data clean-up will likely look different for each team. Regardless, it’s important to establish a standardised approach to cleaning up your HubSpot CRM data.  

Not every company has a CRM manager, so you might want to discuss with your team who will be responsible for the task of cleaning up your data. Another option is to prioritise it as a team effort, ensuring members check over their data within their team only. 

This strategy is useful for larger organisations that input big amounts of data more frequently, which might be unmanageable for a single team member.  

Establish a cleaning schedule

Once you’ve determined who will perform your data clean-up, the next step is to establish a cadence for when data clean-ups should take place. Rather than being hypervigilant and assessing the data each time a set is an input, establish a monthly, quarterly, or annual schedule, depending on the amount of data you’re dealing with.  

It may take some time to establish the right cadence for your organisation, so we suggest you start with an annual check-in.  

Standardise data input

Now that you’ve established who will be responsible for the data clean-ups and a routine with your team, you'll want to create a standard structure of how you and your teammates should input their data into the CRM. What information should be required when contacts and companies are created? 

One way to standardise this is by setting property fields that will appear when manually creating contacts or companies. This can help create consistent data when new information is entered into your CRM. If you have a Professional or Enterprise subscription, you can take it a step further andmake certain fields mandatory during manual creation.  

This approach can also be applied when contacts are created through form submissions by including key fields in your forms that your team will value.  

To ensure all your data is consistent, you can create a list of contacts to check against any key fields that a contact may not have a value for. For example, if you're looking to find contacts that do not have a value for the property ‘region’, you can create a list with the criteria ‘region is unknown.’ 

Get some extra help with integrations  

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

  • Insycle Data Management allows you to automate your HubSpot data cleansing throughout your database. Its features include bulk merging of duplicate records, flexible record matching when importing data, and standardising values 
  • Leadspace is most useful to sales teams because it maintains accurate data to optimise the distribution of leads to the proper team member 
  • ZoomInfo is a B2B software platform that contextualises contact information from multiple sources to enrich the data and create a fuller picture without a lot of friction with the prospect 
  • Text Change Case is an integration that enables you to adjust the case of any existing records and maintain this against all future edits and created records within your HubSpot account 
  • Dedupley is a software that helps you find and duplicate HubSpot contacts, companies and deals in bulk

Create a Data Hygiene Dashboard

A data dashboard is a great way to keep track of what needs to be cleaned and audited in HubSpot. Your data dashboard will help you flag what needs to be changed and bring you insights in real-time. By reviewing your dashboard on a regular basis, you should find out how many contacts need to be assigned to an owner, for example. If the number of bounces and unsubscribes are high, you might want to consider deleting some of those contacts from your CRM. 

Your dashboard could include reports with a summary of the count of contacts for the following: 

  • Contacts with no owner 
  • Companies with no owner 
  • Contacts with no activity 
  • Deals with no activity
  • Contacts with no e-mail 
  • Contacts who unsubscribed from all e-mails 
  • Contacts whose marketing e-mails bounced 
  • Contacts with no company associated 
  • Contacts with lifecycle stage unknown 

Consistency is key

There’s no one way of keeping a clean CRM, so it’s important that you standardise a process for data input and follow your routine for data clean-up. 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. 

If you’re looking for help with cleaning up your data, we’re offering a free HubSpot portal audit. Request yours now by clicking the button below.