6 Steps to Improve Data Quality in your Marketo Database

Why does poor data quality persist? How do you get started with data cleansing campaigns? We explain.

Everyone likes the idea of a clean Marketo database. Yet, so many Marketo users still suffer from poor quality lead databases.

The problems with poor data hygiene are well known: Diminishing return on Marketo investment, bad customer experiences, and worst of all, a frustrated sales team with lousy leads.

Cleaning Your Marketo Database

Why is it so difficult to clean and maintain your Marketo database? Some of the most common reasons are:

  • Ownership – Who is responsible for the strategy, data management approach, and documentation? Every Marketo user needs to identify a database owner.
  • Resources and priority – It takes time to do a data cleansing exercise and implement processes to keep the database clean. Often, this isn’t a priority relative to “everyday” operational work.
  • Fear – You may not like what you find and the follow-up necessary to keep it clean:
    • Having to delete leads (for various data integrity reasons)
    • Discovering possible duplicate smart lists
    • Applying quality measures to incoming lead sources from other teams, reducing lead counts and potentially driving process changes. For example, you may have to tell sales that leads from the last event aren’t acceptable quality.
  • Confusion – Where do you even begin?

That last point is the hardest because often times it is difficult to find a good starting point without becoming quickly overwhelmed.

Here are some simple steps to help you get started:

#1 – Be opportunistic

Determine which opportunities you have for data cleanup and decide on an approach for each. Don’t get hung up on cleaning everything. Instead, make some decisions, start simple, and work on your critical fields first such as those that routing and scoring depend on. Don’t forget to get buy-in from key stakeholders! It’s much better to have these types of conversations up front.

#2 – Begin with basics

Set up a basic data cleanup operational campaign to hold your data hygiene smart lists and campaigns.We recommend you start by setting up batches. As you get more comfortable, you can move to automating (see step 3).

#3 – Observe data updates

Monitor your smart lists to see how dirty data is getting into your database. Address any sources that are repeatedly resulting in invalid data or junk. Issues usually are related to:

  • Forms – Introduce form governance as a helpful tactic
  • List Imports – Use a standard import file to ensure consistency and compliance
  • CRM sync – Consider adjusting sync rules between your CRM and Marketo
  • API Sources – Check these often for dirty data

#4 – Formalize over time

After a period of monitoring, you can refine and lockdown your approach. This can be done all at once or gradually, the latter of which will make this seem less daunting. This is also a great time to document and communicate so everyone is on the same page and processes are updated accordingly.

#5 – Make deduping a process

Not only should you dedupe regularly, but have a process for doing this, or prepare to have a bigger mess down the line, internally and externally. If you have a lot of duplicates, it’s probably best to look for support. You can find companies that specialize in this.

#6 – Invest in data management

It’s best practice to build a centralized data management program where leads can flow through a managed process as they enter Marketo or as data values change. Luckily, much of this can be automated, and we can help.


While this seems like a significant amount of work, the payoff is more than work if it equals a a healthier Marketo instance, improved customer experiences, and a happy sales team thanks to quality leads.

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About the Author

Leah Hagans has over 12 years of marketing experience, focusing mainly on creating, executing, and optimizing marketing campaigns that drive demand, new business, and improve customer lifetime value. She’s currently a lead for Centric’s Marketo Marketing Automation Practice where she enjoys helping clients effectively and efficiently operationalize multi-channel experiences via Marketo and other marketing technologies.

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