How to clean up your HubSpot contacts

Houses get messy over time; your house, my house. There’s almost nothing we can do to stop it. However, we can always do something whenever the dirt accumulates. That’s exactly the case with your HubSpot contacts.

Luckily, you can be the Clorox wipe to your HubSpot Portal, easily cleaning up to leave a lemony-fresh contact list. 

Read on to find out how.

The importance of a clean database

What’s the big deal about a clean contact list anyway? It’s better to have all the contacts possible, whether they engage with your content or not, right?

Wrong! Dead wrong!

Having a cleaned-up contact list is crucial because it:

  • Levels up your email marketing, thanks to good deliverability, open rates, clickthrough rates, and conversion rates 
  • Ensures you’re emailing only the people who truly want your messages
  • Reduces costs because HubSpot charges based on the size of your contact list, so a slimmer contact list means less pay. Also, you’ll invest strictly in contacting those interested in you.
  • Gets you in the good books of Internet Service Providers because the majority of your contacts will engage with your emails. This boosts the deliverability of your emails and stops your emails from being marked as spam.
  • Protects relevant data and eliminates bad data which have been proven to cost up to $3 trillion annually in the US alone. Your contact list contains not just email addresses, but vital customer information about each email address. This is super helpful when it comes to pinpointing customers across different channels.  

What should be cleaned

In the process of cleaning your HubSpot contacts, here is a list of data that should be removed:

  • Those who have unsubscribed from your content
  • Contacts that have hard-bounced
  • Vendors and suppliers if there is no existing relationship anymore, or if they don’t qualify as your target audience in any way 
  • Contacts who fail to engage with your content even after attempts at re-engagement
  • Your former team members who don’t qualify as your target audience

The various phases of cleaning

When it comes to cleaning your contact list, there are typically 5 different phases of cleaning.

Phase 1: Formatting

The first phase involves correcting formatting and case issues, the most common data inconsistency issues. Formatting and case issues surface because uniformity is a challenge when gathering data from many people using forms. Some formatting issues are the proper case for first and last contact names, phone number formatting, and email address formatting.

Phase 2: Unwanted Characters

The second phase involves the removal of whitespace and unwanted characters. Eliminating them helps with the search and filtering of data. Whitespace comes from the inadvertent single or double-tap of the space bar after data entry. It might be hard to detect whitespace without a tool. Unwanted characters are characters that typically pop up due to encoding issues. They can easily be fixed manually.

Phase 3: Field Cleanup

Consolidating and standardizing fields make up the third phase of cleaning the contact base. Sometimes, multiple fields attempt to describe the same thing, but with different terms. Fields that experience these problems the most are job titles, industry, and tying companies to contacts. Consolidating and standardizing similar fields aids searchability.

Phase 4: Remove the Excess

Removal of data to reduce costs and bloat is the fourth phase. This phase concerns itself with boosting effectiveness and not errors. Since data ages out with time, it helps your team in the long run by lowering costs on data storage and marketing campaigns.

Phase 5: De-dupe

The fifth phase recognizes that duplicate data is a tough challenge for companies that collect large amounts of data. Thus it involves de-duplicating entries because such copies increase costs and waste productivity since a single customer view can’t be maintained. 

clean HubSpot contacts

Cleaning your HubSpot contact database

Here are the steps you can take to clean your HubSpot contacts to perfection.

1. Audit your database to find out what data problems you should clean up

A proper contact cleanup campaign begins with a holistic assessment of the database. The pillars of a HubSpot-focused marketing audit shed more light on this. 

Auditing your database involves thoroughly searching to find out what data is current and useful, as opposed to that which is outdated and irrelevant. Audits give you a full look into everything that's in your portal - what's working, what's not, what can be optimized - all with the end goal of ensuring you're maximizing your marketing ROI.

This is the starting point of the cleaning process. 

Learn how to do your own HubSpot Audit

2. Employ the list feature to check for missing data

To find out missing data in your contact database, there are two ways to go about it. 

The less effective way to delete contacts is manually one by one. This is an insanely time-consuming process and will leave you frustrated.

A better approach is to make use of lists. Using HubSpot’s list feature, you can create active lists for those who have not engaged with your company -- or whatever other criteria you set as a sign you should part ways.

With list criteria set, the whole list can easily be deleted in an instant. Also, lists can help you find contacts who are missing certain values. If you are looking for contacts without company names, you can effortlessly create a list with a filter that indicates that you are looking for contacts with unknown company names.   

3. Apply the de-duplicate tool in the contacts

Some things are certain, like duplicates in your HubSpot contacts...and taxes. Duplicate contacts occur typically due to human error or integration issues. To properly clean out your HubSpot contacts, you should be on the lookout for duplicate contacts, and pinpoint their origins.

Keep in mind that duplicate contacts are expensive, as HubSpot’s pricing increases with the number of contacts you have.

Thankfully, dealing with duplicates will not be burdensome at all. HubSpot’s de-duplicate tool helps HubSpot users seamlessly merge contacts and other customer records. 

4. Utilize your personas

The importance of buyer personas can’t be overemphasized. Beyond making it easy for you to target your potential customers appropriately, you can segment your database into buyer personas, thanks to a contact property built for this purpose.

With these personas properly grouped, your marketing and sales teams will have prime data to work with. The work will be streamlined since they won’t have to struggle to untangle various buyer personas. With the five-star categorizing, you can enjoy marketing, sales, and customer success.  

5. Organize your forms

Forms are essential for data collection, but they can also help with the cleaning up of contacts. If your forms don’t have clear fields and prompts, you could end up gathering irrelevant information.

Make sure your forms have the correct form fields so that as you continue marketing outreach, the contacts that are added to your system come with all the necessary and useful information. Otherwise, just as quickly as you're cleaning your portal, you're adding to the mess again.

For a pruned contact list, make sure you keep the questions and requests for contacts and other details direct. Open-ended questions are certainly not the best in this case. 

6. Create a working importing process

If you’re keen on maintaining a spotless HubSpot contact list, you must keep your eye on importing contacts. A quality import process makes it easy to identify the necessary traits during the creation of contacts. It also helps with the appropriate formatting of contacts.

As discussed above, if you have incomplete contact records in your HubSpot database, complete them by making lists based on important fields.

Another example is adding duplicate contacts. For example, if you just went to a trade show, and imported a raw data list you could be creating duplicate contacts. You may also be missing form fields that keep your records consistent, again adding more clutter to your system. 

7. Create an efficient schedule and follow it

How often do you clean up your house? Just once in a lifetime? I didn’t think so! That’s exactly the case with purging your HubSpot contacts. You don’t ever say “done and dusted.”

Sprucing up your HubSpot contact list should be a regular process. To achieve a glowing CRM, you need to create a schedule for the cleaning process. This will be frequent or occasional; monthly, quarterly, or occasionally. It all depends on the size of your database.

8. Have a designated data manager

As keen as you might be on cleaning your HubSpot database, be careful not to make the mistake of allowing just anybody to handle the CRM data management. It is better to assign this responsibility to a specific person.

Yes, it can be done as a team effort since not every company has a CRM manager. This means members will check over data within their team only. This particularly comes in handy where your company is dealing with a large number of contacts.

First, this will ensure that only persons who are adequately trained for the process will handle it. Also, it will ensure accountability; in the event of any slipup, there won’t be any confusion about whom to ask.

Most importantly, having a designated data manager whittles down the snares of human errors and conflicting information. 

Too many data managers ruin the broth.

Isn’t that how the saying goes? Well, at least, you get the idea!  

9. Make workflows that help update data

With workflows, you can group your data using various criteria. Such workflows work with enrollment triggers. This implies that in the event that any of your contacts don’t fit the criteria, they won’t join the group.

Essentially, you’ll simply sort out suitable data from unsuitable data.

Workflows are amazingly boundless, and they give you the latitude to set the criteria in whatever manner will simplify the process for you. They will help you identify, and easily get rid of contact data that doesn’t fit.

10. Attempt to re-engage non-engaged contacts

Your clean-up procedure might not be the best if you go into rage mode and start deleting all contacts that haven’t engaged with your content in a while. It’s necessary to take a shot at re-engaging such contacts to give them a “last chance.”

You can create lists of contacts that receive content but don’t engage at all, and contacts that receive content but haven’t engaged for a while.

When you sort these contacts out, send them a set of emails crafted specifically for them to reactivate their attention and engagement once more. If this exercise yet proves futile, then it just might be best to delete the contact.  

11. HubSpot support can be of help

There’s no gainsaying that keeping your contacts spick and span can be quite demanding. Brushing up your CRM requires a ton of commitment. If you have the wherewithal to get it done as is necessary, all good!

Eventually, not all companies can say the same about themselves. If you fall in this latter range, fret not. All hope is not lost. Your CRM can also be pruned without you tearing out your hair. You can always reach out to HubSpot for help. Their support team is ever ready to come to your rescue.

Now that you’ve found out the process of freshening your HubSpot contacts, you should get to work.

Here when it matters

If you're a busy marketer, it's easy to get lost in the day-to-day production without giving a second thought to how unruly your contact lists are getting -- and how much it is costing you. That's where MTR comes in. We are expert HubSpot partners who can help you not only keep your contact list organized, but can also help you audit your portal, refine your content strategy, and deploy the tactics to keep your business growing effectively. 

Want to learn more? 

Contact us today!