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Secrets to Keeping Your Association's Data Clean

Written by Julie Dietz on June 7, 2016 at 8:30 AM

Three ways to keep your association's data clean.

You've put in the hours to craft the best email campaign possible. Your templates are beautiful, your subject line is intriguing, your content is insightful, and after all that hard work, you finally hit send. It's a moment of accomplishment - until your messages start bouncing back. You have the wrong email addresses; your data was too old.

It's a common problem.

Out-of-date contact information, incomplete data, and duplicate records can wreak havoc on your association. Quality, clean data is an essential aspect of the professional world today. For associations, it's indispensable to creating a positive member experience and staying relevant. With applications ranging from communication and customization to performance analysis, data is quite possibly an association's most valuable asset - aside from members, of course.

Unfortunately, many associations don't have the time or resources to keep data clean - that is, keep records up to date and accurate. Associations are also using an increasing number of systems, of which some are connected, some partially connected, and some completely separate, making it easy to accidentally create duplicate records, or fail to update information across every system.

Research from SalesForce found that all organizations struggle with data, and average data problems were that 90% of data was incomplete, 74% needed updates, 21% was dead, and 7% were duplicates. Cleaning up these issues often takes more time than many associations have.

Fortunately, keeping data clean doesn't always have to be done with an in-depth scrubbing. You can make clean data a priority by building it into everyday tasks and initiatives. You can also use technology planning to ensure that the benefits and time saving of a separate tool aren't erased by the costs of jumbled or duplicate data.

3 Secrets to Clean Data

Using daily activities and technology to maintain clean data is one of the best-kept business secrets that helps you get quality data without using extra time and resources. Here are three more detailed tricks and trade secrets for keeping your data clean.

Secret #1) A Single System (or Awesome Integrations)

Associations often have more than one technology system, such as a membership management system, email engine, communication tool, and online community platform. When you have multiple systems like this, data has to be moved between them. In the move, updated records can be lost, incorrectly transferred, or simply not updated in a timely manner.

This is one of the problems with integrations, so if you have integrations, make sure they're done very well. You don't want to have to manually move data around, and you want automatic data transfers to be seamless.

All-in-one systems easily eliminate all these issues, however, and as such are the preferred method for keeping data clean. With a single system that runs your membership, website, email, community, and events, there are no more problems moving data because there's nowhere else to move it to. It also means that, because your staff and members are only using one system, data was never be updated in one place and not another.

Secret #2) Get People to Engage

Ongoing engagement is something you want in order to build stronger relationships with members, so why not use it to keep your data clean also?

When members regularly engage with your site, including your website and online community, they have more opportunities to update their information on their own or through automated reminders. For example, you could add a visual tickler in your member portal or private members-only social network reminding members of how long it's been since they updated their profile information. Consider adding a tickler at least once a year because according to SalesForce, 70% of contact data is outdated after 12 months.

You can also use badges and gamification in your online community to incentivize data and profile updates. This taps into your members' competitive streaks, as well as their desire for recognition and contribution.

Secret #3) Train Your Staff

If someone comes up with a workaround that involves merging multiple excel spreadsheets on a regular basis, that is a red flag for messing up your clean data. Staff should always be kept up to date on your technology and your members, so incorporate clean data practices into ongoing trainings. Then empower your staff to act on their training.

Start by training your staff on your membership management platform to ensure that they update records correctly. This includes knowing how (and when) to locate and delete duplicate records, and save new member information.

If you have integrations, make sure your staff can use them properly, including any extra steps that are required to migrate information from one system to the next. Staff should be well-versed in policies, knowing who can update and delete data, as well as the process for ensuring data stays clean during daily operations.

Member engagement should be included in staff training as well. Your staff needs to know how to effectively engage members and when to send them ticklers, emails, or other communication reminding them to update their information.

Clean Data Takeaway

Keeping data clean should be a priority in every organization. It helps you better understand your members, as well as be more engaging and effective when sending out communication like emails and newsletters.

This also means that keeping data clean should be an everyday task, and these three tricks of the trade can help you incorporate it into your routine quickly, easily, and effectively.

The most successful membership managers practice these 11 habits.

Topics: Associations, Online Community Software

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