Learn How to Remove Duplicates in HubSpot

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As your database grows in HubSpot, eventually you will have duplicate contacts and companies. Unfortunately, there are many reasons why this happens.

In this blog, we discuss how you can remove duplicates and use HubSpot more effectively by making your reports and analytics more accurate, therefore saving your business time and money. 

Remove Duplicates Tool Best Practices

In addition to learning how the new duplication management tool in the HubSpot CRM works, when you decide to start cleaning up your database by merging duplicate contacts and companies, there’s a lot to consider.

After extensive experience navigating this tool, we decided to share the best practices we’ve learned about this process.  

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Why Do Companies and Contacts Duplicate?

There are 3 ways to create a contact in HubSpot. You can:

  1. Add a contact manually
  2. Scan a business card using the HubSpot Mobile app
  3. Import a spreadsheet to your portal.

Regardless of your choice, adding an email address to your contact is always best practice since HubSpot uses email addresses to associate contacts to companies and to automatically deduplicate in case you add a contact that is already in the CRM.

Although, even though the platform will automatically deduplicate contacts, there’s still a high chance that duplication will occur. 

When you create a contact with a company email address, HubSpot will automatically create a company for that contact, and pull public information from the Internet about the company such as phone number, description, annual revenue, etc.

Typos, misspellings, and internal domains from different departments or locations of the same company are all reasons that cause HubSpot to create a new company automatically.

In some circumstances, a contact might even use their personal email address in addition to their work one, to make things even more confusing. 

So when you find a company or a contact that is in your database twice, start to notice what contact properties are the same, such as: first and last name, address, company, phone number, email, domains, etc. 

When you see a scenario like this, it’s time to clean up your data by merging those records.

Why Duplicate Records Are Bad

Duplicate records can lead to problems for your company in the long term.

First, your reports will have the wrong number of contacts and companies, which could lead your team to take mis-lead actions when basing a decision on these numbers. 

According to Harvard Business Review, the cost of bad data is about $3.1 trillion per year just in the United States alone.

Another major problem is when HubSpot shows the same contact more than once, they can get assigned to two different sales reps, and then both of them reach out about the same topic. This is a quick way to irritate a potential lead and slow down your team’s productivity.

In addition, if different pieces of information about one contact or company is spread out between several duplicated records, it makes it impossible for you to fully understand the intent of your lead, where they are in the buying cycle and how you should communicate with them.

The beauty of HubSpot is that it acts as a hub, containing all of the personalized history and activity related to contacts and companies, so you want to make sure you are using the tool correctly to be able to get the most out of it. 

How to Prevent Companies and Contacts from Duplicating

To avoid duplication, always be mindful when importing contacts into HubSpot.

If you are importing a spreadsheet, make sure:

  • Email addresses are spelled correctly (no @gmal.com, for example)
  • Look into Hubspot contact and company record properties, and see if they match the properties (column names) in your spreadsheet, and update accordingly. See this article for how to prepare a clean importing process. 

Navigating the Manage Duplicate Tool in HubSpot

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In your HubSpot account, go to Contacts (if you want to deduplicate by email address) or to Company (if you want to deduplicate by domain). Either option will show you the button titled “Actions” on the top right. Click Actions > Manage Duplicates.

This will take you to a new screen displaying potential pairs of duplicates. To merge them, click Review > Merge. If you don’t think these pairs are the same Contact or the same Company, click Dismiss.

But before you click Merge... there are a few things you want to consider when choosing which record to “keep."

What Happens When I Merge a Record?

When you merge a record you are basically combining the information of both records, but the one you choose to keep is going to be your primary record.

Let’s look at an example:

'company.com and the misspelled version of the same company (coompany.com) both have the same information. Since we know the first option is the correct one, we choose the domain company.com to keep, and merge coompany.com into it.'

Now the primary domain is company.com, and the second domain won’t be used anymore in HubSpot. Contacts associated with both domains will be displayed on the same company record, and all history activity as well, such as notes, emails, and calls.

  • If the two records show different deal stages, HubSpot keeps the lower stage between the two.
  • If there are two different owners assigned to duplicate contacts, that one belonging to the record you choose to keep will remain.

company review

Choosing Criteria for Merging 

If your duplicated records don’t have much activity, choosing a record to keep is not a tough decision. You can consider criteria such as:

  • Keep the one with the most recent activity, signaling that this is the record in use
  • Keep the most recently created record for more updated information
  • Keep the Company record with more contacts associated

Those are all decisions you make with your team after knowing what has been imported to your database and knowing your clients. 

However, if both duplicated records have activity and different owners and deal stages, it’s time to make a decision. Look into both records and decide which one should be the primary record. Remember that the activity and contacts associated won’t be lost, but combined into the one record. 

Another common situation is to find several records for the same company with slightly different domains representing different divisions inside an organization. Here you can decide to have one general domain to represent the company and have all contacts from different departments associated with this main domain. Or you might consider that you may be doing business with different people from different offices, or in different countries, and you don’t want to mix up this information. 

Unfortunately, choosing criteria can take a little time, but since you know your company and clients well, you just need to look into each record and make the smartest decision you can at this time. 

Set Up Surface Properties

Once you have decided the best criteria to merge your records, edit the surface properties to help speed up the process of analyzing your contacts or companies. 

In the Manage Duplicates area in HubSpot, click on Edit Surface Properties on the top left:

surface properties


There you will be able to choose which properties appear in the Review tab. For example, when you click Review, a pop up screen will show you the pair of records with a few properties, such as email, last activity date, create date. If those three properties are enough information for you to choose a record to keep, that's great! However, we recommend that you consider a few more items that can be included in this pop up with the edit surface property option. Here are a few good properties to include:

Contact Owner/Company Owner
Checking if the pair of duplicates has the same owner is a good idea. If they have different owners and you merge, the one you chose to keep will override the other one. This might confuse your team, so take this into consideration.

Create Date
It helps you find patterns in the duplication. Sometimes one single import caused the whole problem.

Last Activity Date
This is a good reference for knowing the record to keep, the one with activity or most recent activity.

Associated Deals
See if both records have deals. This is similar to the contact owner issue if different team members own those deals.

Marketing Emails Opened 
If you have two records of the same person, keep the one that has the email address where they actually open the emails.

Marketing Emails Delivered
If the emails are not being delivered, it's possible that this email address is invalid. Look at the record and see if you can update the email address or choose to keep the record that receives emails.

Include any other custom property relevant to your business that you want to make sure not to override. Sometimes you might still want to click on both records to look for more details, even after adding more properties in the review tab.  



Parent-Child Relationships  

A parent-child relationship in your HubSpot CRM is when you relate two companies to each other. Whether you work with franchises, distributors, school branches, or anything else, this function enables you to navigate between related companies quickly and easily, saving you time and unnecessary headache.

A record with a parent-child relationship cannot be merged in HubSpot. These records are displayed on the bottom right of a Company record as “Related Companies.” If you wish to merge a company that is marked as related to another company, you need to remove the parent-child relationship first. 

If you decide that the paired record will not benefit from merging, just keep the parent-child relationship on your records to avoid mixing up information from different teams or divisions, allowing them to be organized in the same place.

Conclusion on How to Remove Duplicates in HubSpot

When you remove duplicates from HubSpot, this can be a tedious task, for your well-being and mental sanity... we suggest taking a break, go outside for a walk and give your eyes and brain a rest! 

Later on, check the Manage Duplicate tool again, as HubSpot calculates possible pairs every few weeks. If you regularly check the tool and merge what needs to be merged, you won’t have to manage hundreds of duplicate records at once, and you will always have a clean and accurate database. 

*The Remove Duplicates tool is available for Pro and Enterprise level accounts

Are you ready to get started with HubSpot CRM? Great!

1) Set up your free account.
2) Read our 'Getting Started' post that guides you through the beginning steps.

If you found this article helpful, you may also enjoy: 

Set up can be intimidating, but there are many online resources (see below) and some professionals (wink wink) that can help you get the job done well and quickly.

Book a complimentary 30min chat now. 

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Picture of Remotish Remotish
Remotish is hyper-focused on servicing companies that plan to use or currently have HubSpot. We have been keeping up on our HubSpot skills since 2013. We make HubSpot awesome.


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