As a Marketo user and Champion for three consecutive years, I have been developing tips and tricks to data quality in Marketo for a long time. At the 2015 Marketo Summit, fellow Marketo Champion, Inga Romanoff, and I shared some of these tips, and when speaking of our experience with resolving bad data, I believe I said it has been “centuries.”

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Bad data can be prevented at the front end, yet some of it’s going to come in despite your best efforts. Nevertheless, there are ways to cope. Here are seven tips to ensure data quality in Marketo.

1. Use Marketo web forms and form pre-population

A big source of bad data comes from your web forms. The beauty of the Marketo form is that you can see that when a new lead gets created, via the Form Fill Out entry in their activity history. This entry is very comprehensive, and you can use triggers and filters to hone in on the exact data you need. Therefore, I recommend embedded Marketo forms or displaying the Marketo form in an iframe on your site. This gives you the control and access once a new lead is created from that form.

As part of your Marketo form, form pre-population is a great tool. It allows your lead to validate what you already know about them. If you’re going to show a pre-populated email address on your form, for example, you do not want to allow the lead to change that email address. Changing the email will cause a new lead record to be created, and their _mkto_trk cookie will now point to that new lead record. In addition, the old lead record is now abandoned from that cookie, and you’ve got at least a name type duplicate.

Also make sure that the form field validations are the same as those in Salesforce to ensure that you don’t encounter sync errors due to those Salesforce field validations.

2. Restrict list imports

When it comes to bad data, list imports can be really big culprits. Ensure only highly trained people handle your list imports using standard templates. Use roles in Marketo to restrict access to list imports to only those people that are trained to do that.

3. Avoid cross-object formula fields

Formula fields are nice in Salesforce, but they’re not so nice for Marketo, especially cross-object formula fields. That’s where a lead record is pointing to another record, and if a data value is changed on that record, then it updates the formula field. Marketo and Salesforce don’t update that formula field unless the record is actually opened and realizes the data has been changed. The formula fields are much slower to sync back to Marketo.

I would advise that if you need formula fields, then create a parallel field synced to Marketo where you set the value that would be in the formula field into that field. This ensures that you’re getting the right data. Don’t sync cross-object formula fields to Marketo if possible.

4. Use add-on apps, but configure them properly

There are great data quality apps that work with Marketo to ensure the accuracy and consistency of your data. Whatever your tool of choice, make sure that it is configured properly. I’d recommend blocking anything with the same email address, and make sure your apps look at both objects: Contact and Leads.

5. Train your users

Train your Marketo users on how to use Marketo, Salesforce and any add-on apps. Anytime they are not applying data quality practices, such as not checking to make sure that an email address is in Marketo before they send a Sales Insight email via the Outlook or Gmail add-in, send them an alert email immediately when the consequent new lead with a last name of ‘mktUnknown’ is created.

6. Don’t delete leads even if they’re duplicates

You don’t want your salespeople, or most anyone in your organization, deleting leads. In fact, instill a policy that prevents Sales from deleting leads. If a salesperson deletes that lead, two bad things happen:

  1. The lead doesn’t get deleted in Marketo. It stays there. If there’s an event from that lead that triggers another sync, Marketo will synced that deleted Lead /Contact back to Salesforce as a new Lead, and you’ll still be sending that lead emails and other messages.
  2. You’re losing metrics. You’re losing data. You want to know the good leads from the bad, and if they’re deleting the bad leads, then everything looks rosy. Maybe that sounds like a good thing, but it’s not for the longevity of your business.

Instead, they should use the Lead Status or Contact Status fields to indicate that a lead is no longer viable (e.g. Bogus, Not a Prospect, etc.).

7. SFDC records should have an email address if at all possible

Marketo, by default, will allow a Lead/Contact created in SFDC without an email address to sync to Marketo, but since two of Marketo’s major benefits are sending nurture emails, and tracking web activity, there’s little value in having a lead without an email address in Marketo since these cannot be accomplished. You should encourage your sales team to always capture an email address when they create an email address, so Marketo can do its magic, but sometimes they just don’t have the email address when they first create the Lead/Contact. So it’s a best practice to prevent these Leads/Contacts without an email address from syncing to Marketo primarily because Marketo will allow duplicate leads to be created when an existing lead doesn’t have an email address. To prevent these from Leads/Contacts without an email address syncing to Marketo, request your Marketo support engineer to implement a filter on the Salesforce sync that will not allow leads without an email address to sync to Marketo.

After that, it’s critical that the email address not be deleted from the SFDC Lead/Contact or the sync will fail. If there’s a bad email address on that Lead/Contact and Sales doesn’t know a new email address that they can replace it with, rather than deleting the email address, Sales should use a field (e.g. Invalid Email) where they flag the email address as bad.

Learn more tips toward data quality in Marketo with the free ebook below.

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