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What best practices do you follow for cleaning up your database/old and dead leads?

Question asked by 721526708d6e7530ae0f40b5297fc5f008470061 on Feb 12, 2016
Latest reply on Feb 18, 2016 by a2accb2ea24127df58c16bb550cefe09cdfc1188

What best practices do you actually implement?
How do you know when a lead is truly dead and worth deleting?

Do you delete anything or archive dead leads to 'retire' them?

How do you calculate the ROI of database cleanup of your time vs. paying for more leads that you don't use/other impacts of having a database with lots of old stuff in it?


Here is a checklist I've found, but I'm curious which to prioritize, and if I'm missing anything.

  1. Merge duplicate leads
  2. Deleting/retiring leads that hard bounce even once: Managing hard bounces: Retire all hard bounces after the first bounce. Most email providers and marketing automation solutions do this for you, but not all do, so make sure that any email that hard bounces is removed from your list. And if you’re using an ESP where you load email lists into the campaign from an external data source like SQL tables or Microsoft Access, be sure to regularly export all of your hard bounces and add them into a suppression list after each campaign. Then, scrub them against your email database when running a list selection.
  3. Remove leads that have not been mailed to in a year or more.
  4. Remove leads that come from purchased/appended sources
  5. Create rules to build a list of people who have been inactive for a while (e.g. no action in 1 year) and do a re-opt-in
  6. Mark potentially dead leads as Trash and manually review them once a month (
  7. Create a Smart List to remove Hard Bounces and ‘be patient but not too patient’ with Soft Bounces.
  8. Set a soft bounce threshold and let 10 soft bounces = a hard bounce, i.e. remove from the system. Marketo manages soft bounces as follows in this blog.
  9. Stagger sending by engagement: send emails to engaged people first, then schedule less engaged people to send 30 min later (Marketo recommended).