Data Management

3 effortless tactics to mess up your CRM data

I have been working with multiple clients in the past year. All of them have at least one thing in common. They rarely have a clear overview of the data sent to CRM or marketing automation platform(s).

Who is this for?

This article is for marketing specialists and managers as well as sales rep team leads who are:

  • a) starting their journey with a new CRM or marketing automation tool
  • b) are trying to improve their current state of data

It will help you avoid a costly mess in the future and stay on top of what's happening in your CRM and marketing automation tool.

What is the fuss about?

I have been working with multiple clients in the past year. All of them have at least one thing in common. They rarely have a clear overview of the data sent to CRM or marketing automation platform(s).

It does not matter how big the company is. If there has never been a dedicated CRM specialist at the company, there's usually:

  1. Bunch of manually imported values for custom properties/fields
  2. Duplicate/random data points.
  3. Legacy integrations-based fields that are sometimes updated and still used by Raul from Sales.

Who owns the data? Is it accurate? Is it duplicating any other data points? What are the definitions? Is it actively used? Are we paying for that mess!?

All of the above takes time (and money) to untangle.

Why is this problem so common?

No priority/resources

Teams start using CRMs or marketing automation tools at the beginning of their company's journey. Having a full-time employee maintaining the platform and helping colleagues with it doesn't make sense.

No dedicated owner

Different teams use it differently, importing data and naming it whatever suits them at the time. Some data might be dynamic; some is from that webinar import in Q2 2021. As there is no dedicated owner to manage the CRM and ensure the data is up to date, it just piles up.

Jason worked on it; he's no longer with the company

Alternatively, there was this freelancer guy who helped with the integration. Too bad he didn't write anything down.

Whoever has used or built integrations for the CRM has left the company. This makes creating proper documentation a headache, especially if there is no clear description of events and customer profiles. (If Jason is still in the building, ask him to write stuff down now.

Poor data hygiene.

Unused or irrelevant data has to be cleaned up on an ongoing basis. You're taking out the trash once in a while, right? Cleaning up data that has been piling up for a couple of years is an unnecessary cost. It's much easier and more efficient to do small checkups occasionally. Try gathering your trash for the whole year and managing it then. Not the most pleasant of experiences.

Cost to untangle will rise over time.

The resources to untangle the CRM data in a year or two will multiply as you must ensure what can and cannot be trusted. In addition, there's a need to clarify who might still use parts of it and if that even makes sense. Engineers, sales, fellow marketers, and other resources might be involved, which increases the total time lost on figuring it out. At this point, you might even think about wiping it all out and starting from scratch (don't).

“Decluttering your data is infinitely easier when you think of it as deciding what to keep, rather than deciding what to throw away.”

Fixing the data management issue is essential.

Before any automation or improvement can be made, cleaning everything up and documenting sources, descriptions, triggers, and other related parts is essential to extract the full potential of your CRM or marketing automation tool. You can skip it only for the short term.

The easiest way to do it is to have a proper documentation system in place from the start.

That's why it's my rule to leave extensive documentation for each data point, workflow, or automation I touch. It's crucial that you can follow and understand everything, up to the smallest detail.

To simplify your life with CRM, you'll find some resources below to help you structure your data.


  • Everyone's data management could be better.
  • There are multiple reasons why this happens: no priority, no dedicated owner, the responsible person has left, and poor data hygiene.
  • It will take you much more resources to untangle a messy CRM in a few years than it will take you to work on it along the way.
  • You must recognize the issue if planning for new automation and improvements.
  • Document your data now.