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We did a non-activity purge of all prospective customers in our database earlier this year. It took a while to decide internally what "non-active" meant, and whether that included contact attempts by our sales team that were unsuccessful- but fortunately/unfortunately we ended up being able to purge a large chunk.
We also ran a small "is this the end?" campaign where we engaged with people that didn't quite make our "non-active" list, but were getting close (eg. 10 months of inactivity instead of the 12 we set as our minimum). We sent a series of light-hearted emails asking people if they wanted to stay in our database or if they had indeed "broken up" with us- they had the option of clicking a final farewell (which added them to a purge list) or re-engaging with us. Happily we did see a few recipients ask to stay with us and we were able to hand them off to our Sales team for engagement.
It's likely that we'll do the same thing again at the beginning of next year to weed out the inactives again. In the meantime, we've also come up with campaigns to immediately clean out the junk leads that come in from webforms - usually by looking for common bad string data.
It's an on-going process - so good luck!
As our database grows, I've been thinking about doing exactly that on leads without activity in the last 2 years. We do generate performance reports on the last 2 years at the end of each year, but once that's done, there isn't a lot of value in keeping them around - especially if their email address is invalid.
Thank you for your input, feels like we are on the right track. I think we will set our purge at 2 years but i really like to your idea of a "reconnect" campaign Jessica, thanks for that. We have done one "wake the dead" campaign with similar purpose but not with the approach you describe, interesting touch!
I agree Elliott, I will need to review how our sync with SFDC will affect the idea when it comes to a yearly review so we don't delete SFDC contacts with invalid email info that are still very much of interest to us but will absolutely be cleaning up as much as possible before the initial sync.