Normalizing countries in your address book using subtotals and bulk update
The information in your address book has probably been entered by multiple people in the normal course of talking to your customers. When a name is available in the email headers or signature, it can easily be captured for later reuse. In the same manner, you're probably also collecting information about the organizations your contacts belong to.
After collecting contact information for a while you may notice that different people fill in the country field as "United States", "USA", "U.S.A.", "United States of America", or "US".
"Normalization" is the process of making this data consistent by removing redundancy.
Consolidating different variations of a country name
First, you need to decide on a convention for country names. For example, you can use 2-letter country codes (ISO-3166), English names, native names, or whatever makes your life easier. This decision usually depends on how you intend to use the information -- printing mailing labels, interfacing with external systems, rendering maps, etc.
- Select address book from the top navigation menu and click the Organizations tab.
- Expand the subtotals if you haven't already.
- Set the active subtotal to Country by clicking on the green text with the down-arrow to the left of the worklist.
You should now see a list of the most frequently used country names. You may already notice a few variations.
Let's assume you see "United States" and "USA". You'd prefer that all these records use the name "USA".
- Click "United States" from the subtotals. This will show only those results.
- Click the Bulk Update button at the bottom of the list.
- Set the Country field to "USA".
- Click the Save Changes button.
You can repeat this process until the most popular country variations have been standardized. After this, you can start to branch out. For example, by searching for countries that begin with the letter "U" you can find more obscure variations for the United States; such as "U.S.A." or "US of A". You can either search for these variations one at a time, or you can select rows individually and use Bulk Update with the Only checked option instead of Whole list.
Taking advantage of the data
Now that you have normalized data you can use it for many different things. For example, you can send announcements to customers located in specific countries. If you add additional custom fields to organizations, like industry, your campaigns could target technology companies in India with more than 25 employees, or breweries in Belgium who have registered one of your products.