Data cleaning is an important business practice, especially at the beginning of a new year. You want to start the new year off right by cleaning, or updating, your databases.
The beginning of a new year is a good time to implement your new year business resolutions. Surely you’ve set some goals for yourself, and surely your data is at the center of them. Data drives your business. It informs your decisions and measures your success.
Clean data is valid, accurate, complete, and uniform. Is your data clean? Check out these 5 data cleaning tips to make sure you only work with the best, most up-to-date data this year.
1. Use Excel
You can utilize some simple data cleaning techniques in Excel relatively easily.
First you want to remove duplicates. This will keep you from wasting time and money marketing to the same contacts more than once. It also allows you to have more accurate insights. For example, you want to know exactly how many leads, customers, clients, etc. that you have.
Parse Data from Text to Column
You can also parse data from text to column. What this means is one cell might have multiple data elements separated by a comma. For example, the parts of an address—street, city, state, country—might be separated in one cell by commas, but you need each part to be in its own specifically defined column.
Format Cells Consistently
Having a standard format and structure in your data prevents confusion and helps make integration into campaigns a lot quicker. There are a few functions you can use to help format your data consistently.
Deleting all formatting allows you to ensure even formatting or no formatting. This could apply to color, text type, or alignment. Similarly, you can change the case of your data. You might want entries in all caps, all lower case, or proper for sentence case. And the TRIM function eliminates excess spaces and tab spaces in cells that make the data difficult to understand.
Even formatting makes your data easier to read, interpret, and just work with overall.
Spell check is an important tool as it identifies misspelled or mistyped entries. The more accurate your data is, the less mistakes you make, and the better reputation you have. You also save time and money by not using incorrect data.
Using the conditional data tool, you can highlight errors in your data. Conditional formatting spots trends and patterns in your data and uses bars, colors, and icons to help you quickly and easily identify important values.
Find and Replace
Finally, the Find and Replace feature allows you to quickly and easily correct your data. If someone’s contact information changes, for example, you can “find” the original data and “replace” it with the new data in each cell that might contain it. This way, you don’t have to worry about missing any!
2. Use a Data Append Service
Excel’s data cleaning tools are relatively easy to use, but performing multiple of the above functions multiple times a year can be time consuming. And, your data is still subject to human error.
For even quicker and even more accurate data cleaning, consider using a data append service this year. Data append not only identifies errors in your data, but it also fills in the gaps. This is a service you don’t get with Excel.
If you are missing any personal contact information for your consumer or business customer records, you can use data append to find names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses.
Just upload your txt, csv, or excel file, identify the columns you want updated, process, and download your updated data results! Use the pricing calculator to estimate the expected cost, and pay less for each record the more you upload. With our cumulative pricing, the volume discounts add up as you process more files for the same batch type in a given month.
Rest easy knowing that you are only charged for hits, or matching results for a record in your list.
3. Use a Reliable Service
Make sure that any data you gather and use this year comes from a reliable service. There are some free services that you can find online that promise to find contact information for anyone. However, what you have to worry about with free services is the reliability of the data returned.
Free services can only provide you with data from free sources. Because of this, they are limited, and there is no guarantee that the information is up-to-date. Paid services, on the other hand, pay for access to sources that update records regularly.
Searchbug’s information, for example, comes from various proprietary sources that are frequently updated. When you work with Searchbug, you get information from
- 15 million business records from public directories and private sources
- 220 million consumer records from public directories and private sources
- social media profiles
- registrations from various websites
- premium cell phone and email databases
So, it doesn’t hurt to pay for data you are confident is up-to-date and accurate. It will save you time and money in the long run by avoiding incorrect and outdated information.
4. Clean Data RIGHT Before You Use It
The BEST time to clean your data is right before you plan to use it. That way it doesn’t have time to change after you verify and append it. Data cleaning right before utilizing it ensures you have the most accurate, up-to-date information for your purpose.
It is also recommended that you clean your data at least twice a year, about every six months. This helps keep your processes running smoothly and minimizes mistakes.
5. Do It!
Data cleaning provides you with a number of benefits. So the most important data cleaning tip is to make sure you do it, at least a couple of times a year and especially right before you’re ready to use it.
Why? Well first of all, it helps you know your audience better. Accurate data gives you a more accurate picture of who your leads, clients, and customers are. It also allows you to communicate with your audience more reliably. Clean, accurate, up-to-date contact information ensures that you will be able to consistently reach your customers and address them properly.
Second, the cleaner your data is, the better insights you will have. With a clear, accurate picture, you are able to make better decisions. You can create more informed goals and projections and make the right decisions to get you there. You also have better opportunities to make more strategic and therefore profitable decisions.
Finally, clean data saves you time and money. The less incorrect data you have, the less mistakes you will make, and the better your reputation will be. Using a data cleaning service saves you and your employees time and money required to manually scour and correct data. It removes the element of human error and provides more reliable results. Consequently, you and your team can focus on other important tasks that only you can do.
Incorporate Data Cleaning in 2023
Now that you know the importance of clean data and the simple ways you can achieve it, hopefully you are prepared to incorporate it into your processes this year. If you’ve already been data cleaning, this year make sure you do it better. Consider these 5 data cleaning tips to help you make the most out of your data and your business decisions this year.