Data deduplication, also called deduping, means getting rid of the duplicate entries in a database, on a spreadsheet or in a similar format. It’s crucial to do that because too much duplication in your database could lead to unintended consequences.
For example, duplicate information could mean that members of a marketing team call the same person multiple times. Then, a potential lead gets frustrated, and marketing professionals waste time.
Or, duplicate data could give incorrect statistics caused by inflated numbers. If one legitimate user appears in a database several times and that’s a common occurrence, marketers could reach falsely positive conclusions about the effectiveness of a marketing campaign or the reach of a new product.
Here are five things that marketers and other people who work with data can do to stop duplicate data from becoming a pervasive problem.
1. Have Stricter Data Entry Practices
Human error is one of the primary causes of duplicate data. If people aren’t careful enough to input data without making errors, the steps marketers take to check for identical records might fail. For example, maybe there’s a valid email address in the database that’s firstname.lastname@example.org. But, if a person also mistakenly types that email address in another instance with “.con” on the end, it would not appear as a duplicate.
Marketers should implement quality control measures for data entry. They may include having at least two people check information before submitting it to a database. Problems can also occur if too many people take responsibility for entering data. When they don’t follow all the same procedures, duplication could happen.
Data quality shortcomings arise due to several reasons, some of which relate to other tech tools. If a company uses an optical character recognition (OCR) program to speed up data importation, it’s especially important to have human oversight that boosts quality control.
2. Use Automation to Help Spot Duplicate Data
Automated tools can cut down on the manual labor used when looking for data duplicates. And, options are available for popular applications that store data, like Google Sheets. While utilizing that spreadsheet program, people can depend on a manual formula or install an add-on that looks for multiple instances of the same information.
Becoming familiar with either the manual command or how to use the add-on can help people find duplicated data faster, putting them a step closer to removing it.
Also, when choosing an automated tool designed to assist with locating duplication, people who work with data should always research the possibilities and read reviews from users before picking options for their needs.
3. Apply Human Insights to Any Data Deduplication Tool
Tools exist that make it easier for marketers to remove duplicates from their databases. But, they should not become overly reliant on those solutions. For example, if a platform shows an entry of a duplicate address, users should not automatically regard it as an error.
For example, an address for an apartment in a college town could have a different valid occupant for each semester or even less often. Alternatively, there could be cases where two people from the same household sign up for the same service but have different subscriptions because they chose different feature tiers.
When data analysts use any interfaces that assist with removing duplicate data, they must take a closer look before deleting information that seems redundant. Even the best tech suites for controlling duplication can’t view the data with the context that a human can.
4. Change Duplication Removal Methods As Needs Dictate
Excellent data deduplication needs a methodical approach. Once marketers and data analysts come up with a method for removing duplicates, they need to log every step of the process and make a note of when each one happens. Otherwise, it’ll be impossible to keep track of what works and what doesn’t. It’s also best to test a deduplication process in a sandboxed environment before moving it to production.
Then, even after a deduplication method seems ideal, companies should still be open to changing it as necessary. For example, if an enterprise links another source of customer data to a marketing tool, that action could cause unwanted duplication. Then, the presence of another new marketing tool makes it necessary to change a previously successful deduplication process.
5. Prompt People to Avoid Signing Up Twice
Some duplicate data happens because customers can’t remember registering at a website before. So, one simple data deduplication marketers and data analysts can use is to ensure that sign-up forms urge existing users to log into their accounts instead of registering again.
Start Tackling Duplicated Data
Data duplicates are common, but not impossible to reduce. The steps suggested here can help data experts get to the bottom of duplication problems and start to solve them.