So you read 4 Sure Signs Your Data Needs A Cleanse and realized you data is in need of a cleanse, but you’re not sure where to start? Here are a few tips to start cleaning your database:

Same person, different title?
You have two records for the same person with two different titles, which one to use? A simple solution is to use the latest title received. But a better solution is normalizing the various titles into one title as this enables for better segmentation.

For example, VP of Marketing Strategy and Vice President Marketing would be normalized to VP of Marketing for your marketing purposes.  This will not only allow you to send different communications based on level of management, but also help with reporting and analysis based on title.

Same person, multiple email addresses?
To identify duplicates one should use fields such as address, company, phone number, title and name. Remember, the more information you have, the lower the risk that it’s two different people with the same name. For example, John Smith at Microsoft and John Smith at MS looks like the same person, but when using other information you realize that one is located in California and the other in Massachusetts.

Once you have established a duplicate, you can merge the contacts into one master record. This record would then contain primary and secondary email addresses. The primary address should be the address that has been opened last and/or most frequently. Another solution is to exclude personal email addresses from your marketing efforts altogether.

Doing business globally?
The best advice is to check out the international database marketing post. Tons of tips regarding database set-up and management are hosted there including standardizing international country phone codes, email addresses and physical addresses.

Incomplete database?
You just realized you are missing fields that are crucial for your business. What to do? First, you should establish the necessary fields that are required so that when you acquire data or collect it, you ask the right questions. If you are trying to complete the blanks that are already in your database you could use Eloqua’s progressive profiling, which allows you to collect data throughout your marketing campaigns. Finally, you could get your sales guys to collect the missing data or use third party database services to append the missing information.

This should address the basics of database cleanup. However, remember the best way to increase the health of your database is to start at the point of data collection and acquisitions.