HubSpot is a great tool for inbound marketing and sales, but sometimes it can get a little messy, especially when you’ve had your account for a long time. Accounts may switch hands or multiple people may be using the same account.
Without regular database hygiene practices, it can easily become unmanageable. In some cases, you may find you are sending out irrelevant content to contacts and actually hurting your marketing, sales, and service efforts. However, you may now know it’s happening until one of your contacts lets you know.
You simply can’t make informed decisions and keep your marketing efforts optimized with messy data. Without a clean database, you can’t deliver the right content, to the right people, at the right time.
This blog will explain why maintaining your HubSpot database hygiene is vital to your operations, how to audit your database and clean it up, the best practices to keep your database clean over time, and how you can leverage a clean database to drive growth.
What is Data Cleansing?
Data cleansing is also known as data scrubbing or data cleaning. It’s the process of modifying or removing data that’s inaccurate, incomplete, improperly formatted, duplicated, or corrupted within a database.
Data cleaning is an essential step for efficient HubSpot use. If your database has outdated, old, or missing info, you won’t get the results you want. It’s crucial to help a clean database with rules and policies on when you clean it, how it’s organized and named, and who is responsible for handling the routine maintenance. So put away your cleaning supplies, grab your computer, open HubSpot, and get to work.
You can start by doing a portal audit. Go through your emails, lists, workflows, and files, and decide what can be archived/deleted and what can stay and be updated. This includes:
- Landing Pages
How Having an Unorganized Database Hurts Your Organization
Data gets out of sync for a lot of reasons. It may have been entered incorrectly or incompletely years ago. You may have integrations that pull in data from other sources that aren’t 100% accurate or up-to-date. You might have inherited a messy database from previous employees in your role.
This isn’t some minor problem either. A study by Experian reported that on average, companies feel that more than a quarter of the data they have is “dirty.” IBM estimates that poor data costs US companies $3.1 trillion a year in lost opportunities and poor decision-making.
While the majority of data flaws are attributed to human error, the fact is that data ages quickly. As people change jobs or positions, your contact lists can get stale just as fast. According to payroll platform ADP, 27% of employees change jobs each year. If you haven’t cleansed your database in a few years, it could be wildly inaccurate.
A messy database can hurt your business in a lot of ways, including:
- Reduced deliverability
- Incorrect reporting
- Running out of room in HubSpot
- Wasting time building assets that already exist
- Loss of credibility with customers
Of course, the biggest concern is the lack of revenue you generate despite the tremendous amount of work you put into your marketing and sales efforts.
When you notice that you are seeing high unsubscribe rates, marketing leads aren’t converting, email campaigns aren’t performing well, or you’re getting a significant number of bouncebacks or undeliverable, there’s a pretty good chance your database needs some work.
While you can’t always draw a direct line between performance and a messy database, it’s a pretty good place to look before you make changes to your campaigns. The campaign may be fine, but the data feeding it needs some cleaning.
The Benefits of Data Hygiene
A clean database will help you in a variety of ways. Here are the top six.
Better Relationships with Your Customers
In today’s environment, you need a solid grasp of your target customers and where they are in the buyer’s journey. If you don’t have accurate data to start with, it’s going to be increasingly difficult to deliver the right content at the right time.
When your database is clean, you can create more robust buyer personas — one of the foundations of your outreach strategy.
By focusing on importing accurate data, you are ensuring that you are communicating with each customer in the highest and most effective way. You are no longer sending duplicate messages, misspelling their name, or sending it to the wrong person. You are now creating relationships, crafting messages, and connecting with your audience, which is crucial for your business to succeed.
RESOURCE: The Definitive Guide to Buyer Personas
Improved Campaign Segmentation & Personalization
If your data isn’t accurate, not only can you create an incorrect buyer persona, but you could end up speaking very specifically to prospects about things that aren’t of interest. You can harm your reputation with them by focusing on the wrong things and you may end up in someone’s spam bucket.
Accurate data leads to better decisions when it comes to segmentation and personalization — key to contextual marketing. Segmented and personalized content, matched to the right stage of the buyer’s journey, provides that context and it’s more effective.
One recent study showed that contextually relevant content generated 43% more neural engagement and improved recall by more than 2X. That shouldn’t come as a surprise. When something’s more relevant to your interests and where you are in the buying cycle, you’re much more like to absorb and respond.
Reduce Data Duplication
Duplicates can happen simply by human error, especially if multiple people are working on a database.
Even if the information is accurate, duplicate data can lead to the same person receiving the same content twice, a spam signal. Deduplication is the act of removing duplicate contacts in your database.
Besides wasting time and resources by duplicating efforts, duplicate data can also lead to inaccurate reporting metrics. It can skew your open rates, response rates, ROI, and more. It can also influence you to head down an unhealthy path towards over-investment or underproduction based upon false assumptions about how much information there really was available for analysis.
By Deduplicating you are saving time, resources, and money.
Reduce Waste and Increasing Productivity
HubSpot is a great tool for marketing departments looking to save time and money by curating all of their data in one place. If you have to search for it or recreate it, you’re just wasting time.
With clean data, you won’t be spending time building new lists when they already exist. Sales and marketing can spend less time cleaning up a messy database and more time with prospects and customers
Most importantly, you can maximize your ROI on ad spend with more focused targeting for optimal efficiency.
Create Alignment Between Marketing, Sales, and Customer Success
Data misalignment often occurs because data is locked in siloes, especially when different departments are using multiple platforms. It can be difficult for anyone to get an accurate picture of the customer or prospect as they engage with your business. This leaves room for misunderstandings and missteps in marketing and sales efforts.
The challenge of figuring out what information should be shared across teams is one that many companies face. A single source containing all relevant data concerning each individual who has interacted with you provides clarity and alignment across every touchpoint.
Improve Decision-Making Processes
It’s a pretty simple formula. If you have bad data, you can easily make a bad decision. If you can’t trust what the data are telling you, it can prevent you from taking action.
Data cleansing is an essential part of any organization's arsenal because it helps you to make better decisions. Without cleansed data, it’s just a guessing game with potentially dire consequences.
8 HubSpot Database Hygiene Best Practices
It’s easier to practice good data hygiene if you start when your first launch. If you’re already using HubSpot, that’s OK. However, it is time to review your data and bring it into line with CRM hygiene best practices. Here are eight things you should consider.
1. Create Folders for Organization
HubSpot's File Manager allows you to search for a file across all folders without the need of looking in each individual child folder. When you set up your hierarchy this way, it makes everything easier to find, especially as your organization grows.
Almost every tool in HubSpot gives you the ability to create folders. You can group similar assets by folders as well as utilize the campaigns tool to allow for grouping assets across the tool. This also helps you to assess the combined results of how all these assets are performing together.
Grouping similar files make it easier for you to find what you're looking for and also helps keep things organized. Use descriptive names so they’re easy to identify at a glance, like “Videos” or creative titles such as “Inspirations.”
2. Implement Strict Naming Conventions
Files, emails, workflows, landing pages, and anything you are storing should all have consistent naming conventions. Come up with descript naming conventions that your team can use to easily identify what type of list it is and how it’s being used.
By standardizing everything you create, your team stays organized and makes it easier to find what they need. The more categories a project falls into, the less time someone will have to spend looking through search results or trying out different approaches.
If you change your naming conventions or abbreviations, be sure to check your database. There can be inconsistencies that affect your overall database.
Labels are a good way to make sure that you're finding what you're looking for and the more specific, the better. For example, searching on my computer for "CEO Headshot Square" will pull up files matching that exact title rather than coming up with 20 identical files with unhelpful names like “leadership headshots.”
3. Define and Utilize Lifecycle Stages
Setting a lifecycle is important because you need to know who is a lead, who is an MQL (marketing qualified lead), sales qualified lead (SQL), and what it takes to move from one stage to the next. Companies often struggle because they don’t establish a common definition of what qualifies at each stage.
Each of these can be tracked using workflows. The lifecycle property includes these stages, subscriber, lead, MQL, SQL, opportunity, customer, and evangelist.
- Determine what data is necessary for everyone to be able to do their jobs well
Does sales need phone numbers? Are you collecting that?
- Determine WHEN it needs to be collected
What do you need to gather at each stage?
- Find out WHERE you’re missing data and fill in those gaps.
Where can we standardize import templates?
- How can a contact move to the next lifecycle stage?
What is the definition of an MQL and what info should you have at that point?
Pro Tip: Here’s a worksheet to fill out that will guide you on the actions you take, and what a lead looks like.
Download your Lifecycle Stage Worksheet
4. Don’t “Set and Forget” Your Workflows
It’s important to review your workflows regularly. Setting and forgetting them can lead you astray, especially if triggers aren’t set up properly. Here are some of the things you’ll want to check for:
- Check your enrollment numbers, has anyone ever been enrolled?
- Are your triggers set up correctly?
- Which emails in your workflow have low performance?
- Are emails being opened but not clicked?
- Are they being viewed but you have low opens?
You may have old workflows that are triggering based on contact enrollment triggers that are no longer relevant.
Workflows are key to automating the nurturing process.
5. Review Your Contacts
With nearly a third of company data becoming outdated each year, it’s crucial to make sure your contacts are fresh.
Remove Duplicate Contacts
There are ways to easily remove these duplicates. For example, you can use Excel (with the remove duplicates option) or Google Sheets to detect and remove duplicates for free. If you have several contact records for the same individual, you will need to assess and combine them so that you have only one record per person.
Delete outdated or inactive contacts
Inactive contacts need to also be examined. If you haven’t had activity in more than a year, you may want to place them into a targeted re-engagement campaign or delete them altogether. Keeping them in your database as active can skews your reporting.
Build a list of contacts who are unsubscribed, hard bounced, inactive, unengaged, and export and delete them.
6. Manage Custom Properties
Make sure you name custom properties clearly and concisely to make it easier for you (and others) to use them correctly.
Export all information before editing the property. You should all export the information before editing properties to avoid mistakes. Changing an existing property to a different field type may make values currently stored in the property invalid.
If you have multiple custom properties collecting similar information, you’re going to be missing key data. For example, “Where did you hear about us?” is a single-line text field, and “Referral info “as a multiple select. Which one is going to be used in forms?
7. Build Forms to Gain Information
Forms are an important part of marketing and sales in HubSpot. They allow you to collect valuable information from your contacts, which can then be used to create targeted content and improve your marketing and sales efforts.
Make sure you are collecting the right data at the right time. While you want to minimize the amount of data you collect at a stage to improve engagement, you also need specific data at different stages of the buyer journey. For example, you don’t need a phone number to enter someone in your lead gen pipeline, but your sales team might need the phone number when leads turn into an SQL.
Adjust your forms and what data you collect to the right stage.
8. Document and Simplify Your Processes
Standardize everything you do, internally and externally so that everyone is on the same page.
When creating the process make sure to include every step to ensure that someone else can follow along. When creating a process think about making it so thorough that someone from outside of your company could complete the task. This seems like extra work, but you’ll thank us later when one of your colleagues leaves and you have to take over for them or you get promoted and have to train your replacement.
Automate and templatize anything you can to simplify the process.
Summing it Up
Bad data only gets uglier the longer you let it sit there. It can hurt your conversions and cause your reporting to be unreliable. When you take these steps to build and maintain a flawless (or near flawless) HubSpot database, good things happen.
Engagement increases. Conversions go up. Productivity and efficiency improvements. And, you’ll have data you can trust and rely on to make important decisions about your business.