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» Multiple List Syndrome – How to Consolidate Lists In Your Company

July 10th, 2012

It is a common scenario to find out that a company, big or small, has multiple lists created and used throughout the company.  Whether you are a sole proprietor managing your contact and client information, or you are a Fortune 500 company, the situation is the same.  The only difference is the size of each list and the number of lists in existence.

I recently read an article in B2B Magazine1 that highlighted a large company that merged with another company sixteen months ago.  They still have overlapping lists spread across the company, with no concrete plan to consolidate this information in order to better manage the company’s information and ensure multiple marketing pieces do not go to the same recipient.  I was baffled by this concept, but at the same time, reassured because I know this is a common situation for many companies.

While it may be common, it does not have to be a permanent situation for you.  With the right tools and proper planning, you can either fix your current situation of having multiple lists in your company, which I call multiple list syndrome, or you can avoid it from happening altogether. click here to read more!

 

Fixing multiple list syndrome – Data Consolidation

If you currently have multiple lists being used in your company for various reasons, don’t despair.  This can be fixed with the right tools or help.  Before you can begin though, you first have to determine where you will store the information once it is consolidated.  Will you keep it in Excel, Access, migrate to a CRM program?  All of these are acceptable but you need to think about the big picture and not just what information you have today.

Now that you know where you will be storing the information, you can begin to put all of the pieces together.  This will require some forethought, otherwise this process will take you much longer than you’d like!  For example, where is the overlap for your data – are there fields of information in common across each list (name, email address, etc.)?   You’ll want to combine each individual list into one main table/spreadsheet.  Once this has been accomplished, you are only halfway there. Now you have to see where you may have duplicate information, since you just took many lists and made them into one list.  Duplicate information must be compared against one another to see which information is correct (if they are different).

Finally, once the list has been cleansed for duplicates, you may have additional cleanup to do – did you have different formatting across your lists (all caps in one, title caps in another)?  Did you abbreviate in some and spell out names and streets in the others?  These may sound like trivial changes to you now, but you’ll be thanking me when you go to send out your first mailing with your newly consolidated list and don’t have to worry about cleaning it up before sending out your mailing!

 

Proper Planning

If you do not currently have multiple list syndrome, you should still make sure you have a plan in place so you do not accidentally go down that path.  It is too easy for one department to create a list and keep it separate from the rest of the company’s data.  The easiest way to avoid this is to keep all of your key information in a centralized database system, such as a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system.  Make sure all key personnel in your company can access the system and the pertinent information in the system they need to do their job and keep your business running smoothly.

In addition, make sure to train everyone on the proper way to bring new data into the company. This may be by having one person/department controlling the import of new data, or training each person how to import the data themselves.  Either way, regularly monitor how information is getting to your customers and prospects to ensure it is coming from your centralized database and not a list outside of the system.

 

Summary

If you currently have multiple list syndrome in your company, it is okay.  You are not alone, and there is a cure – consolidate your data and keep it that way!  If you are already in a situation where your data is consolidated, put measures in place to avoid multiple list syndrome from happening to you.

If you would like to learn more about how your valuable data can be consolidated, contact us at (973) 607-1627.  DB Pros is equipped to help you eliminate multiple list syndrome from your company.

1Source: BtoB Magazine: Interactive Marketing Guide 2008 special issue, “Coordinating and unifying your e-mail program post-merge”, Karen J. Bannan

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