While teaching, coaching, educating Infusionsoft users and subscribers, voluntarily four times per month in four different cities, I have come to appreciate the problems, misunderstandings and implementation challenges entrepreneurs and small business owners have getting Infusionsoft to do what they want it to do. The software is incredibly powerful, however that power brings with it a need for structure, strategy and discipline – just like your accounting software, just like your WordPress site and our daily lives and commitments to others.
Recently, I wrote an article called “What Infusionsoft Can’t Do“. This article brought to light what many of us as small business owners know but do not like to admit publicly. Our organizational struggles migrate themselves into the modern tools we use today. That can mean that Infusionsoft performs as well as our strategy and treatment of our contact records.
The purpose of this article is to dig deeper into the bullet points contained in “What Infusionsoft Can’t Do“. Let’s talk about Infusionsoft unique identifiers, what creates duplicate records, how duplicate record merging can overwrite valuable data and the value of educating not only your staff but also your customer and prospective client.
Infusionsoft is a great tool, but it is only a tool. In the end, you are responsible for how you choose to use it. It is not a mind reader, and it cannot derive or extrapolate implied information. As they say, “garbage in, garbage out.” When you use Infusionsoft, it’s up to you to educate your prospects, clients and staff on how you can maintain a pristine, clean database.
Today’s modern CRM’s (Saas software systems), sales and marketing automation software, provides for us many tools. Among those are web forms and internal forms for data entry into our Infusionsoft CRM. Many of us use
those forms for lead generation, surveys, NPS (net promoter score), modification of known facts by internal team members and e-commerce transactions to name a few. The fields available in our forms can range from the basic first name and primary email address to the more complex forms with hidden fields and probing questions for segmentation. The information we gather helps us deliver the content to the right person who seeks a solution to a specific need – automatically.
Infusionsoft is a contact-centric system. Communications, orders, opportunities, activity history and more are attached to individual contact records. Each contact record stores the demographic, geographic, behavioral, and transactional information you need to segment contacts in your system into different groups in order to communicate with them appropriately. Contacts are added to Infusionsoft automatically through an import, web forms, online purchases, and API feeds from other systems. You are also able to add contacts to Infusionsoft manually.
Once that information is received into our CRM contact record, Infusionsoft attempts to match the new data coming into the system, with the contact record already in our CRM, if applicable. How does it do that? What factors do we need to understand? What happens to the old data when the new data arrives? How can we control the changes and mitigate the duplicate records and maintain a clean database?
- Primary email address as a unique identifier. The web form submission looks for a match with the email address used in the form, whether that form is a web form or an internal form. The duplicate checking process can be set to one of five factors for each web form. 1) Check for an existing record’s email address in the primary email address field. 2) Check using the person’s first OR last name AND their primary email address. 3) Check using the person’s first OR last name AND their email address AND their company. 4) Check using a cookie AND the person;s first OR last name AND their primary email address. 5) Don’t check for duplicates.What do we need to understand about each of these options?
- 1) Check for an existing record’s email address in the primary email address field. This is the most common setting. Infusionsoft, in its native state, can handle three email addresses for each contact record. However only one is the primary and only the primary is checked upon form submission and during the maintenance procedure of duplicate record checking. Furthermore, people make human mistakes, one of those are typos, and if the email address submitted contains a typo, the system assumes it is a new record – let alone the fact that this email could bounce and now you may have a tagging problem – the later is a whole nother discussion.
- 2) Check using the person’s first OR last name AND their primary email address. This can come in handy when you have a business where your customer shares an email address, such as husband and wife. Here, if the email address matches Bob Jones, but the form is submitted for Mary Smith – Jones, a new record will be created. Keep in mind the same is true if the form submission is for Robert Jones, or if your form asks for first name only and the contact puts Bob & Mary in the first name field. – it happens! Yes, if you have all three happen, you have three records for potentially the same person. Keep in mind, that if you desire this setting and allow this to happen, you then cannot merge records based upon a check for duplicate records by primary email address.
- 3) Check using the person’s first OR last name AND their email address AND their company. Same factors as point #2, however here another variable is used for the company field. Take special notice of the use of the word OR and AND. Think of this as an if this, then that qualifier. Here is where your contact could enter Bob’s Sports Bar LLC and the next time Bob’s Sports Bar and we would not have a match. To mitigate problems with this feature you can use Infusionsoft java scripted forms and have them auto-populate with the data you have, assuming they are clicking on an Infusionsoft delivered email.
- 4) Check using a cookie AND the person’s first OR last name AND their primary email address. Same factors as point #2, however here another variable is used for the existence of a cookie on the submitter’s computer (assumes they have clicked on your content that carries the java tracking code previously).
- 5) Don’t check for duplicates. The person using this setting let’s it all come in and then runs the duplicate record check regularly.
Seasoned User Tip. There may be times you want to automatically add information to a person field or change the information that is there. The set a contact field to a specific value action allows you to do this. This can be accomplished in the campaign builder using the hidden field function inside a web form or action set function inside a campaign sequence.
What happens to the old data when the new data arrives? If the incoming record finds a match, all fields previously containing data are overwritten.
How can we control the changes and mitigate the duplicate records and maintain a clean database?
- Go to Admin > Data Cleanup in the main navigation menu. Click on Check for Duplicate Contact Records.
- Establish internal policy, procedure, process for internal data entry. Have a standard protocol for all fields.
- Educate your customer that your clean records, their purchase history and much more is maintained by the consistent use of a single primary email address.
What options do I have when merging duplicate records in Infusionsoft?
- Automatically Merge Duplicate Contacts. Infusionsoft can automatically merge duplicate contacts once they’ve been identified. This is the most common option for a large database of contacts. When you automatically merge duplicates, you do not have a chance to review them prior to merging. The system automatically merges all identified duplicates at once. The auto-merge will take information from the newer contact record and use it to update the information in the older (original) contact record, based on the records’ ID numbers. The merged record will contain all of the tags , history, notes, etc. from both records.
- Manually Merge Duplicate Contacts. Manually merge duplicate contacts if you want to maintain control over the merge process. When you do a manual merge, you are able to review duplicates and decide to merge or not to merge each record on an individual basis. You might choose to manually merge duplicates if you are not completely confident in the accuracy of the criteria you set when you checked for duplicates, your database is not too large, or you run frequent dup checks.
Quality records, maintained over time, can have a huge impact on the professional appearance of your organization. This is the foundational key to making sure your content is delivered properly by addressing the needs of your audience. You expect to generate revenue from your list and you should treat your data accordingly. All of us want to approach our contacts with respect. All of us need to deliver information appropriately. Doing so requires discipline.
Copyright Viral Solutions 2017
Thomas von Ahn
Chief Elephant Slayer for Viral Solutions LLC
“Achievement seems to be connected with action. Successful
men and women keep moving. They make mistakes but they
don’t quit.” — Conrad Hilton