How Duplicate Records Are Merged

How duplicates are identified, smart selection of a master record, and the process of merging records.

Ardis Kadiu avatar
Written by Ardis Kadiu
Updated over a week ago


This article discusses how duplicate records are identified and merged from the perspective of record data. For information on using the Deduplication Module, read this.

Identifying Duplicates

Every time a record is created or updated, Element451 checks for possible duplicates by looking at several key identifiers.

Duplicate Identifiers

Duplicates can be identified by the following attributes:

  • First name

  • Last name

  • Email and email type

  • Phone

  • SSN

  • Date of birth

  • Addresses

An extensive description of the logic behind duplicates can be found here.

Flagging a Possible Duplicate

If Element451 detects records that match on one or more attributes, the duplicates are stored as a relationship to both records, with the probability of matching.

Smart Selection of a Master Record When Merging

When Element451 finds a possible duplicate, it performs a "smart" selection to determine which record should be a new "master" record.

First, Element looks for a recent activity such as:

  • Logging in

  • Opening an email

  • Filling out a form

  • Registered for an Event.

Then, Element will prioritize the record without hard email bounces or unsubscribe milestones.

The Process of Merging

When records are merged, Element451 keeps the Element ID of the master record. Once the merge is complete, the duplicate record will be deleted/overwritten. Below is a description of how fields are prioritized and merged:

Single-value fields

Only one data point can be kept for basic fields such as person data and contact information. If there are conflicting fields, the information in the master record will be selected. If the Master field is empty, then the duplicate data will be selected.

Multi-value fields

Notes, labels, and applications from both student records are merged to the master record by default unless you specify not to merge them.

Similarly, for fields such as evaluations, identities, event registrations, and surveys, the default is to merge into the master record. If there is conflicting data, Element selects the master record's data. You can also specify to ignore or keep one when there is conflicting data.

For fields such as education, addresses, milestones, and sources, they are merged by default unless you specify another action, such as append, ignore, or keep both.

For all other fields, the system merges everything to the master record by default.

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