How to maintain a clean CRM database: Best practices

How to maintain a clean CRM database: Best practices

Customer relationship management (CRM) software houses all of the contact and prospect data that you keep stored. It is your one source of truth for driving prospect conversions and customer satisfaction. But a messy database with data integrity issues can do more harm than good, which runs counter to the purpose of having a CRM in the first place. Here we cover best practices for maintaining a clean CRM database, so you can maximize your ROI for the software you choose.

1. Only import essential data when importing contact lists

Only import essential data when importing contact lists

If you import lists of leads into your CRM, you should do so with care. Where is your data coming from? Which fields were used there and how do they correspond to the fields in your new CRM? You may have had some custom fields that are no longer relevant. If so, don’t import that data. Focus on only the most important data and import that. This will leave your database clean and sparkling. Learn more about importing contact lists into Agile CRM.

2. Make sure all data is in the right format before importing contact lists

Make sure all data is in the right format before importing contact lists

When you export data from one software system with the intent of importing it into another, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. Typically, this will be done via the exporting and importing of a .csv spreadsheet.

It’s imperative that the data in the exported file lines up with the requirements of your new system’s data import process. This normally means that every column header must have the exact same title and that the data below is in the same format (i.e., date, number, percentage, plain text, etc.). Make sure it all aligns before attempting the import. Otherwise, you’ll see errors and lots of data that doesn’t make it into your new system.

3. Identify essential data fields to avoid partial contact records

Identify essential data fields to avoid partial contact records

If you are going to be marketing to these new contacts in the future, it’s critical that you define which data fields are essential to have. Perhaps you decide that without a name, email, and phone number, the lead does not constitute a fully populated contact record.

Determine which fields are the most important to your business model, and be sure that your web forms ask for that information. Or, if manual data entry is still taking place, be sure that those collecting and entering the data collect those essential data before entering anything new into your CRM.

4. Put validation on your email and phone fields on forms

Put validation on your email and phone fields on forms

It’s very common that someone will navigate to your website and enter false information in your lead form to receive your content or another offer. But there are ways to avoid this. Allowing people to complete your forms with fake data creates an incredibly messy database, and hinders your efficiency.

To remedy this, place validation measures on your email or telephone number fields. Today’s CRMs allow you to instantly verify if an entered email address is real and active. If not, the form can’t be submitted. Same with telephone. So put these measures in place. And don’t forget to include reCAPTCHA on your forms to ward off the onslaught of the bots.

5. Routinely check for duplicates

Routinely check for duplicates

Duplicate contact records can have a more detrimental impact on your marketing efforts than you ever imagined. If you have two or more records for the same prospect, which one is the most up-to-date? Which one will the system use to deliver a personalized email?

Because email personalization relies on accurate CRM data, duplicate records will screw that up faster than Usain Bolt runs the 100-meter dash. Duplicates occur when someone completes your form multiple times but with different information. Or, when someone manually enters a new contact and inadvertently enters different data. If you have two contact records for John Doe, but one has his name listed as “JON doh,” it’s possible that he’ll receive a personalized email to “JON” rather than “John.” Talk about a bad first impression.

6. Purge unresponsive contacts

Purge unresponsive contacts

I’ve mentioned this in other blogs, but it’s highly important to keep your database clean of unresponsive contacts. In other words, those contacts that have either unsubscribed or emails to them are bouncing. Either scenario indicates that they don’t want to talk to you. So clean them out of your database to ensure your emails are going to live email accounts, and also to improve the accuracy of your email tracking and reporting.

7. Track lead source

Track lead source

Where are the leads in your database coming from? List imports? Organically generated leads from your lead gen efforts? It’s important to know where leads are coming from, as this allows you to hone in on the right strategy to engage them.

Someone who voluntarily opts in is a different case than someone on a list you bought. And thus, they need to be communicated to differently.

Tracking lead source in your CRM helps you keep tight organization around who each lead is, where they came from, and what their objective is. It’s a highly important part of maintaining a clean CRM database and is easily done in most CRMs these days.


CRM technology allows you to do so much more with fewer resources. You can maintain much more personal relationships with your customers and prospects. However, all of that depends on automation of communications, etc. If the data you have in your database is not clean and accurate, your “personalized” communications will go to the wrong people, tell them the wrong things, and ultimately hurt your reputation as a company.

It’s critically important to take the necessary steps to ensure you maintain a clean CRM database. Not doing so can set in motion a wave of negative consequences that will keep coming like a tide you can’t escape. So, follow the tips above and make data integrity and maintaining a clean CRM database a top priority for your business.

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Gabriel Swain

Gabriel has nearly a decade of content and digital marketing experience in the software and technology space. He also has over 13 years of professional writing experience—both in the nonprofit and corporate spaces. His goal is to help small and growing businesses maintain insight into emerging trends and best practices, provide a stellar customer experience, and remain highly competitive in their respective industries.


Maulik Shah

about 2 years ago

Thanks for posting this info. I just want to let you know that I have checked out your site and I found it very interesting and informative.


Charles Wattson

about 2 years ago

Regularly it is seen that business reps disregard legitimate information passage. Ask why? All things considered, this is because of the various fields that are compulsory to fill in while sustaining information in the CRM. Thinking about this perspective, it is fitting to set a couple of fields as required. You have to guarantee that your people are keeping up spotless and exact client data in the CRM database. Trust it or not, numerous examples have been accounted for where Sales experts have discovered copy contacts existing in the CRM database. The nearness of duplicate data is the basic purpose for some goof-ups which the business reps make. Inaccurate CRM information hampers sales and marketing execution. Duplicate data is one of the unmistakable types of inaccurate data


Gabriel Swain

about 2 years ago

So true, Charles! People underestimate the impact that dirty data can have on the entire business--clean data is a key piece of the business foundation and without it other pieces stat to fall down as well. And it's often due to variables that can be easily controlled, like merging duplicates for example. Thanks for your very helpful feedback. So much appreciated. Good luck!!


James Klemm

about 2 years ago

Hi, Totally agree with you.Poor performance can greatly affect the business in providing services to its clients. It is also wise to ensure that users update their status so that the business can understand what the customers want. Thanks


Gabriel Swain

about 2 years ago

Great points--thanks so much for your feedback!


Ryan Young

about 2 years ago

This is so interesting and inspiring post because when I read it I feel joyful. Thanks for sharing this wonderful post ever.


Gabriel Swain

about 1 year ago

Thanks so much for the positive feedback. Please keep reading and posting--we love the dialogue! Cheers :-)


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