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A comprehensive and consistently applied data quality process can prevent bad data from ever getting into your database and impairing sales and marketing effectiveness.  This series of articles discusses specific steps you can take to improve your process.  However, even with the best of practices, bad data can find its way into your database. That’s where data quality tools including RingLead DMS are invaluable in preventing and resolving bad data.

The first article in this series outlined how to prevent bad data originating from your Marketo web forms. In this article, we’ll discuss how to prevent bad data originating from list imports, which can be really big culprits owing to the large volume of records from trade shows, webinars, live events, sponsorships and more.

Use Marketo roles to restrict access to the List Import permission to only those people trained in your list import process.

Create a List Import template spreadsheet with columns for the data fields you typically collect from people as well as columns for your operational data fields (e.g. Person Source, Person Source Detail, Record Type, Person Status).  Be sure the column headings are the Marketo field names that you would use in a smart list field filter, which may be different than the field name in Marketo Field Management or in SFDC.

Use this Not this
Email Address Email
First Name First
Last Name Last
Job Title Title
Company Name Company
Phone Number Phone


Frequently, lists come from 3
rd parties with column headings that are different than the field names in Marketo. Rather than renaming these column headings every time you obtain a list, you can create List Import Aliases for these fields.  Be careful not to use a name that conflicts with an existing field name.  

There is nothing worse than the frustration of not being able to easily segment your records, match Leads to Accounts, or take advantage of email personalization due to wildly varying formats for similar data or even data in the wrong field. To prevent these issues, take the time to review your list before importing it. Although you can set up Marketo smart campaigns to normalize some of your data such as changing the full name in the State field to the 2 character ISO code, these may not execute before other processes in Marketo and Salesforce are triggered that are based on the normalized value.

The following are a few of the elements to review before importing your list. The data format you choose will depend on a variety of factors beyond the scope of this article, but it’s critical to apply the formats you choose consistently.

  • All of the data are in the correct columns
  • Address information is in agreement. You don’t want to import an address like:
    Los Angeles, New York, SW1A 1AA, Russia
  • No duplicate records especially if it’s the same person with different email addresses
  • Email Address – check for typos (e.g. @gmal.com). Better yet, verify email addresses before creating non-marketable records that will eat up your Marketo record limit and negatively impact your email sender reputation.
  • Person, Company, City Name – case, prefixes, suffixes, punctuation
  • Street Name – case, multiple lines, abbreviations per USPS if you’re going to send snail mail
  • State, Country Name – full name in proper case or 2 digit ISO code
  • Job Title – case, abbreviations, format and sequence
  • URLs – remove http://, https://, www (if not required), path, trailing slash
  • Phone Numbers – especially important if you are using an auto-dialer and/or have a CRM like Salesforce that auto-formats 10 digit NANP numbers. For NANP, remove leading 1, separators and spaces.  For International: start with ‘+’, then country code, then a separator, followed by other digits

Reviewing and correcting lists can be tedious, time-consuming and error-prone if done manually; however, there are solutions like RingLead DMS that perform much of this pre-processing automatically.

Final tip – as with your Marketo forms, make sure that the field values in the records you import are consistent with Salesforce field validation rules or picklist restrictions to ensure that you don’t encounter sync errors.

Happy importing!

Elliott Lowe has led teams that built solid sales and marketing systems and successful programs at rapidly growing startup and public companies.  At CA Technologies (NASDAQ: CA), an ITSMA charter member, Elliott led its initial Account Based Marketing programs.  Elliott’s an experienced Eloqua and Salesforce power user as well as a Marketo Certified Expert, 3x Marketo Champion and speaker at Marketo Summits.

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