Database Hygiene: Essential Steps to Keep Your Data Clean

Avoid inefficiencies and compliance violations with proper data hygiene practices.

Rob Boyle
Rob Boyle
August 10, 2023
Good database hygiene ensures valuable customer insights, accurate targeting, and risk management. Here's how to keep your data clean.
This content may contain links to products, software and services. Please assume all such links are affiliate links which may result in us earning commissions and fees.

Key takeaways

  • A clean database is vital for accurate decision-making and compliance.
  • Lousy data management can lead to inefficiencies and possible regulatory violations.
  • Implementing best practices can significantly improve your organisation's database hygiene.

Why is data hygiene important?

In an era where data is a valuable resource for businesses, maintaining good database hygiene is not only a matter of compliance but a crucial part of growing your business.

Proper data hygiene practices can help in multiple ways.

  • Improved lead management as your sales team and marketing department have valuable insights into the customer experience.
  • Heightened productivity and increased revenue as less time is wasted on erroneous or outdated information.
  • Accurate data ensures that you can reach the right audience with outreach campaigns.
  • Compliant risk management and reduced chances of violating regulations.

By comparison, poor data practices can lead to several issues and inefficiencies. Identifying the causes of poor data hygiene and implementing best practices will help keep your database clean.

Common issues: what leads to poor-quality data?

Dirty data

Poor data quality can hurt your decision-making and efficiency. Dirty data emerges from many sources, such as data entry errors, inconsistent formatting, or merging multiple data sources.

Dirty data could include poorly formatted contact details, fake email addresses, spam or misspelt input fields.

Human error

Human error is an unavoidable factor in any process. Despite your best efforts, data entry mistakes can happen, leading to duplicate records, incorrect data, and inconsistencies across your system.

Developing a data quality plan to minimise these errors and ensure that your information remains reliable is essential.

Data decay

Data decay is the gradual decline in the accuracy of your data over time.

As contacts change jobs and businesses evolve, the information in your database may become outdated. Incomplete records and unengaged contacts can also contribute to data decay and weaken your customer relationship management systems (CRM).

Multiple systems

A common issue I have experienced in my career is the challenge of integrating multiple CRMs. If each department uses a different system, you rely on APIs or (shudder) manual data transfer to maintain accuracy.

If one system has outdated or missing information, you are unlikely to achieve a single source of truth.

Managing multiple systems can be achievable with a robust data strategy and pipeline to transfer data. However, if you are a smaller business low on resources, I recommend using a single consolidated CRM like HubSpot.

(Heads up - we are a HubSpot affiliate. If you upgrade and make a purchase through this link, we will receive a commission).

What are the impacts of bad data management?

Inefficient data management can be costly, especially for B2B companies.

  • One critical issue is duplicate data. Duplicate contact records not only waste time and valuable resources but can also harm your reputation.
  • Poor data security can expose your customers' personal information, leading to legal and financial consequences.
  • Another concern is missing information. Incomplete or inconsistent data can affect your ability to make informed decisions, leading to lost opportunities and reduced revenue.

Best practices to keep your database clean

Maintaining proper database hygiene practices is crucial. Keeping your data accurate, clean, and up-to-date ensures effective lead tracking, campaign performance, and personalisation.

Here are some practices to help you improve database hygiene:

  • Regular audits: Conduct data audits to identify inconsistencies, inaccuracies, and errors.
  • Data cleansing: Implement techniques such as deduplication, correcting missing or invalid entries, aligning data formats and standardising naming conventions.
  • Standard operating procedures (SOPs): Develop SOPs and a data governance policy. Staff should know how to manage data at the point of entry and during ongoing maintenance to ensure consistency.

Several constraints might impede your database hygiene efforts. You can address these by:

  • Hiring data analysts: Bringing in-house data specialists on board ensures accuracy and effectiveness in managing your data.
  • Using data hygiene tools: Invest in tools and software that improve data hygiene. These tools can streamline your processes and save time.

To improve targeting and organisation-wide data handling, consider the following:

  • Establish a data owner: Assign someone in your organisation responsible for managing and maintaining your data. They can ensure data accuracy and oversee the implementation of data hygiene practices.

Remember, good database hygiene goes a long way in ensuring your campaigns' success and improving your organisation's overall performance. By incorporating these best practices, you'll have a solid foundation for improved database hygiene in your organisation.

Summing up - how do you maintain database hygiene?

To maintain data hygiene:

  1. Standardise data at the point of entry.
  2. Cleanse your data regularly to remove duplicates and inaccuracies.
  3. Validate contact information to ensure it is accurate and up-to-date.
  4. Implement SOPs and a governance policy to ensure data quality.

Need some advice on data quality and growth strategy? Get in touch with our team for a strategic audit tailored to your needs.

Frequently asked questions

About the author

Rob Boyle is the founder of Jigsaw Metric and oversees content strategy and research projects. 

As a child of small business owners, Rob understands the challenges of growing without resources. He set up Jigsaw Metric as a side project to help more small businesses grow from 10 to 1,000 customers. 

For Rob, digging into the data and seeing KPI charts trend upwards is the most rewarding part of the role.

When not devouring business plans and books, Rob enjoys playing guitar and spending quality time with his infant daughter and toddler son.