What Is Contact Merging?

When it comes to contact databases, duplicates happen. Unito can help mitigate this with contact merging! Here's how.

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What is contact merging?

When syncing contacts between multiple contact-based tools — like marketing automation and CRM tools — contact merging prevents the creation of duplicate contacts. That’s because having similar, but slightly different, contacts in multiple tools can mean they’re not treated as the exact same item across tools. Without contact merging, that would create tons of manual work as you clean up your contact lists.

Contact merging means you don’t have to do that work.

How does contact merging work?

When syncing contacts between tools, Unito flows will find duplicates by looking for matching email addresses. To avoid issues, flows have default rules that will only sync contacts with an email address, ignoring those without one.

Once Unito syncs a contact from Tool A to Tool B, one of two things will happen. This is where the contact merging magic happens:

  1. If the email address from Tool A doesn’t already exist in Tool B, a new contact will be created and populated with information based on the fields you’ve mapped.

  2. If the email address already exists in Tool B, the two will be matched, no duplicate contact will be created, and the information from the source of truth will be prioritized for any conflicting fields. This is contact merging.

However, If your tools’ email address field contains multiple values or supports multiple email fields, we will match contacts based on the email address in the first field. You can confirm the fields we match in the Managing duplicates section of your flow’s rules page.

Preparing your contacts before syncing

There are a few things that you can do to prepare your tools before launching your flow that will give you some peace of mind.

Backup your contacts

Most tools have the option to export your contact list to a file and back them up for your records. They are usually CSV, XLS or other plaintext files that can be imported into your tool at a later date, or interpreted by spreadsheet tools like Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets.

Pause any other syncs or automations with these tools

If you’ve previously set up other automations via tools like Zapier, Automate.io or IFTTT, or one-way natively within one tool, you may get unpredictable results when you launch your Unito flow. To avoid this, turn off any automations you’ve set up in other tools first.

Sanitize your contact list

One of the main ways to avoid duplicating contacts is to make sure your tools’ contact lists are cleaned up before launching your flow. Each tool has their own way to find and merge duplicates. Here’s some documentation that can help:

Note: If contacts in both tools have matching email addresses, they will not be merged.

Check for missing email addresses

Since Unito flows depend on email addresses for contact merging, make sure the contacts you want to sync have them. It might not be feasible for larger contact lists, but doing even a little bit helps here.

Run a test sync

If you want to test your flow, consider limiting your dataset with some strict rules:

  • Use the creation date trigger to only sync contacts created after your flow. This is a safe way to test your sync without messing with historical data.

  • If your tool allows for tagging or labeling contacts, create a small subset with a label and add a rule to filter them.

  • If your tool allows for creating custom lists of contacts, create a list containing a small subset of contacts and add a rule to filter out other contacts.

Fixing and preventing duplicate contacts

As contact lists grow, duplicate contacts and other errors become inevitable. That said, there are a few ways that you can fix issues as you notice them and prevent them before they happen.

Develop a workflow that keeps your source of truth up to date.

Creating a flow between tools with Unito allows you to ensure that data will automatically flow regardless of who adds contacts to a tool. Automating these syncs ensures that you won’t have to manually add or import contacts at the risk of accidentally creating duplicates. Creating a two-way flow also means that contacts get updated everywhere with the most up-to-date information, rather than being scattered across records and tools.

Set up your flow to avoid creating duplicates

Unito will manage duplicates between tools so long as your contact lists respect the parameters you set up. As long as the contacts you want to sync all have a valid email address, Unito will not create any duplicate contacts during a sync. This also ensures that when a Unito flow does find a contact with a matching email, the information for that contact will be enriched with data across tools.

Be consistent

A good way to ensure that contact lists stay clean in the long term is to implement some rules for how your team should add new data to your CRM. If you document a procedure that requires users to input certain fields, cross-reference companies for similar data and run your tool’s native cleaning features on a regular basis, you’re more likely to have clean and consistent data that won’t require a big audit when it comes time to set up a flow. You can also use Unito’s rules to remove users from your contact list if they reach certain criteria, such as being disengaged marketing leads or unsubscribing. This can keep your contact lists lean and ready to sync with other tools with Unito.

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