Spring clean your marketing database!
By Kathleen Aoki
Why not give your database a much-needed spring clean?
It's that time of year again - time to plant flowers, sweep out the gutters and yes, clean up your marketing database. If you're like most small business owners, your database is probably clogged with old, outdated contacts, historical sales data, incorrect data as well as other non-essential information that keeps you from functioning at your maximum capacity.
So why not give your database a much-needed spring clean? The time you spend will pay handsome dividends in terms of time savings and increased efficiency in your day-to-day activities - from sending out newsletters, following up on your sales leads, to creating accurate reports and more.
Before you begin
While few people relish the idea of sorting out their databases, it doesn't have to be overwhelming. To make your task easier, however, you should clarify what your objectives are before you begin.
- How many years worth of sales data do you wish to keep in your current database?
- Are there redundant fields of data that you can eliminate? For instance, does your database have multiple address fields when you need only one or two? Or is the same data stored in different places requiring time-consuming multiple updates?
- Do you need to add any new fields for storing data? For example, would it be useful to have a field that allows you to keep track of when you last updated an email address? Do you need an extra phone number field, etc?
- Which records can be deleted completely and which ones do you wish to retain, either in your current database or an archival one?
- How much time are you willing to commit to your clean-up process? This will help you prioritise tasks.
Backup your database
Before you make any changes to your existing database, be sure to back up your data to safe location should anything go awry during your clean-up process. To be safe, absolutely no changes should be made until this step is completed.
Analyse your data
Have your IT department filter through your database for redundant records, merge where possible and delete unwanted records and fields. This would also be the time for your IT department to make structural changes to the database as previously determined.
Archive your data
After you've decided which data to keep on your current system, you can archive your historical data to another system. This will help speed things up on your current database, especially when you run reports, as there will be less data to filter through.
Update your data
Once your database structure is in shape, you can go in and update your remaining data - a mostly manual process, but well worth the effort. As you begin your final clean-up phase, you may wish to start with updating your most important contacts first.
As you've probably gleaned at this point, spring cleaning your database is not just a luxury, it's a necessity. Accurate data will help your business run more smoothly as well as assist you in making the best marketing decisions possible, so don't forget to spring clean your database this year.