Regardless of the diligence applied to maintain clean CRM data, issues inevitably arise, including the problem of duplicate contacts. This issue most often surfaces due to the same visitor using different email addresses across multiple form fills, or from cookie tracking on shared computers.
The Root Cause of Duplicate Records in the CRM
Duplicates are most frequently caused by the same visitor using different email addresses on subsequent form fills. For example, maybe they used a personal email address the first time they visited your website and then switched to a business address later on. They can also be caused by cookie tracking on shared computers when a contact is updated with multiple people’s information due to pre-populated fields.
When you have duplicates in your CRM, they impede your ability to have a clear understanding of your database and engage with contacts correctly. Single contacts being represented multiple times will give you inaccurate counts of how many leads you have throughout the funnel.
On top of that, it’s possible that the same person could end up being worked by multiple sales reps or receive content meant for different lifecycle stages simultaneously if their duplicates get qualified and routed differently. That’ll lead to inefficiencies internally and create a poor experience for the prospect.
To prevent those issues from occurring, there are proactive and reactive actions you can take to address duplicates in HubSpot and Salesforce.
Managing Duplicates in HubSpot
In HubSpot CRM, you can select “manage duplicates” from the actions drop-down button, and HubSpot will identify all potential duplicates. You can go through that list and either dismiss a suggestion or review and merge the two records.
When merging two records, you’ll need to make sure you understand which is the primary and which is the secondary record. If you’re using both HubSpot and Salesforce, the primary will be the contact that is syncing with both CRMs. You should keep the primary and merge the secondary record into it. When this happens, all behavioral history for both contacts will be kept, and the other contact properties will turn into the most recent value.
Blocking Free Emails in HubSpot
Not allowing people to submit a form using a free email address can reduce the number of duplicates getting created in your CRM by forcing visitors to just use their business email.
You can block free email addresses by editing the email property on any HubSpot form you use. The platform makes it easy to do so by providing a checkbox that lets you block all free email providers. However, blocking free email addresses won’t be an effective solution for all companies. If you have many qualified leads who use free email addresses, then the cons of this can outweigh the benefits.
Adjusting HubSpot Form Settings
If you’re seeing multiple contacts getting compressed into one contact record due to cookies on a shared computer, you might try enabling “add link to reset form” to allow visitors to reset the form. Alternatively, you can prevent the issue from continuing to occur by adjusting the HubSpot form settings in order to not “pre-populate contact fields with known values.”
This is a particularly good precaution to take if you know there is a high-shared computer usage amongst your personas, for example, if your target audience works in academia.
The downside of doing that is that it will interfere with your ability to do progressive profiling. So, if you can narrow down where the duplicate contacts are coming from to just a few pages, it’s best to just adjust the settings on those pages instead of site wide.
Managing Duplicates in Salesforce
In Salesforce, you can use either fuzzy matching or exact matching rules to identify which contacts or leads might be duplicates. For example, you might be looking for an exact match for email and then a fuzzy match for company name and phone number.
In addition to establishing matching rules in Salesforce, you also need to set up duplicate rules to determine what should happen after a matching rule has identified a duplicate record. The result could be alerting an admin who has permission to merge records or blocking the creation of that duplicate, for example.
To get rid of duplicates in Salesforce, you’ll want to merge the secondary record into the primary. If you’re using both HubSpot and Salesforce, the primary record will be the one that is syncing with HubSpot. You can find out which record that is by looking for the Salesforce lead ID or contact ID on the HubSpot record.
Building Dashboards to Track Duplicates in Salesforce
To understand the cleanliness of your Salesforce records at a glance, you can create dashboards tracking duplicates, duplicate rules and how users respond to duplicate reports.
Create a custom report using the “duplicate record set” and “duplicate record item” to report on the duplicates that exist and the rules that are leading to them being flagged. This can help you further customize your duplicate rules if you are seeing errors with how duplicates are being recognized in Salesforce. Reporting on how often duplicate reports are being ignored by users can also help you determine if you need to adjust your duplicate rules or if you need to train employees on how they should address the issue.
Managing Duplicates in Both HubSpot and Salesforce
Managing duplicates in both HubSpot and Salesforce can be a complex process, but it is crucial for maintaining data integrity. One important factor to consider is how duplicates are tracked in HubSpot's integration settings. Duplicates are tracked as a sync error for the Salesforce app, and you can set up alerts to notify your admin when duplicates are identified that impact both platforms.
Merge Records in Both HubSpot and Salesforce
When dealing with duplicates in both platforms, prioritize merging records in both HubSpot and Salesforce. The order in which you resolve the problem will depend on your integration settings.
If your HubSpot records are set up to delete contacts when the corresponding Salesforce record is deleted, you will need to clean up the records in HubSpot first. However, if you do not use that setting, you should merge the records in Salesforce first and then determine your primary and secondary records in HubSpot. By following these best practices, you can keep your CRM accurate and avoid the negative consequences of duplicate records.
The data integrity of your CRM is vital for teams across your organization. Marketing, sales, and service teams all need to have an accurate understanding of contact records in order to do their jobs properly. So, it’s important that you set up a process for identifying and addressing duplicates in your CRM.
While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, and the unique needs of your organization and how you configure your platforms will impact the steps you need to take, the best practices above are great initial steps to take.
Kaitlyn is a Revenue Operations Strategist. She specializes in driving full-funnel accountability and visibility by bridging the gap between people, processes and platforms.
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