On January 24th, 2017, we had a kick-starting Marketo User Group in Arlington, VA. The topic was Data Management: Forms 2.0 Advanced Use Cases and Data Cleansing Practices.
There were two presentations by Cori Pearce, Demand Generation Manager at WealthEngine, and Margaret Angell, Senior Consultant and Marketo Practice Leader at Definitive Results. Both speakers gave us a perfect overview of data management issues, shared their experience, offered solutions, and practical tips. The slides are available here and here.
Data Cleansing: Deduplication
I have a strong perception that the problem of duplicates is not fully recognized outside of marketing automation/operations teams, and not getting the right attention and resources. Duplicates are not just noise in your database that you can ignore put it down for later. They cause deep problems:
- Awkward customer experience. One record is updated, and another is not, and a person receives non-synchronized, chaotic messages.
- Cumbersome follow-up process. It is not hard to check for duplicates once. But if you consume dozens of leads every day, every additional click costs you time, efforts, multiplies probabilities of error (imagine that you can’t see leads owned by other reps!), and ultimately it costs you money.
- Database volume inflation. Most CRM have price structure based on volume. So you pay double/triple price voluntarily, by keeping your army of duplicates.
- Lack of visibility and accountability. Who did what, which campaign is logged under which record, who is converted and who is not – you can’t tell for sure.
- Skewed and distorted analytics. Until you export data and dedup manually, you won’t have accurate numbers of leads. Forget any live dashboards! They won’t tell you the truth.
- Marketo dedups batch campaigns, but it can’t exclude dups from trigger ones. Beware – your email might be sent to all your dupli-, tripli- quadruple-, penti-cates.
A perfect illustration of what duplicates cost you (here and above are slides from Cori’s presentation):
Another problem of duplicates is that deduplication might be a quite painful process. First of all, Marketo can prevent duplicates, but it can’t perform mass merge within a standard package. So ultimately you have to buy Easy Merge service by Marketo, or third party solutions for that (a solid list of tools is available here). Depending on your MAP-CRM configuration and syncing, you might want to have a deduping process set up in any of the systems. However, in a pair, of Marketo-Salesforce, it seems to make more sense to dedup and merge in Salesforce – to be closes to native leads-contacts-accounts objects.
One important point here: some deduplication solutions are working backward, merging existing duplicates, and others are preventing new duplicates. In most cases, it is better to go both ways. Once cleaned up, you have to keep your house protected from mud coming from outside, and clean it regularly.
At MUG, Cori listed the major sources of duplicates and advised on how to prevent them:
- Always use Marketo forms or the API
- Sync all leads to your CRM
- Import lists into Marketo using default mode
- Train sales CRM users to search for leads first using email or full name and update an existing record instead of creating new
- Use third party tools to catch and prevent duplicates
One of the biggest possible sources of duplicates in Salesforce, in my mind, is caused by architecturally engraved concept of leads and contacts in Salesforce. The idea itself of separating people into two non-symmetrical and not very logical buckets might have had some reasons and use cases, but it does not seem relevant nowadays. Especially in B2B marketing, when we target the same names, again and again, and they circle from nurturing to qualifying. All companies solve this problem in their ways, and you can see all variety of approaches.
However, there is a quite popular practice of loading leads (as someone needs to be followed up and sales qualified up) as leads (as Salesforce objects) no matter if there are existing contacts. The rationale is that contacts are names own by sales reps, leads are “interest,” “buying signals,” “potential opportunities” owned by marketing. I am not even sure if it would make more sense to flip that separation completely. Anyway, with such approach, new and new duplicates are dumped into a database.
Needless to say, I do not support the idea. The more consistent and consolidated data we have, the better. The more intelligence we can gather and store, the better. The more marketing and sales work together and coordinate, not separate their efforts and perspectives… you know. The problem of new names coming to a database vs. well-established accounts and contacts might have much more elegant solutions.
Also, Cori shared her experience in mass deduplication. She recommended to test and dry run until you are satisfied with results. Spot checking and reading logs line by line in both Marketo and Salesforce are mandatory! Technically, you can’t unmerge merged records (you might have a backup of your database, but merging is not easily reversible).
Then you have to set up merging rules and thus resolve all possible conflicts between duplicated records:
- Lead vs. Contact as a master record
- Overriding Fields – which fields you want to keep, which you can override (newest/oldest by creation date/last modified date)
- Fields values you want to prime: Unsubscribed, Opted-In, Suspended, Email Invalid, Retired, Qualified Out.
- Leads and Contact owned by different users – as we discussed, there is no easy solution for that. Until you have a simple rule (if State=NY, Owner=John Smith), you will have to clean up your records and re-assign to the right rep before merging
- Some data deduplication tools might offer rules for Inactive Users; automated creation of tasks, accounts, opportunities; exceptions from the merging rules, etc.
- Another great feature: automated conversion of lead into new contacts based on domain match with existing accounts (beware multiple accounts in different regions of the same company! You will have to specify regions for that).
Advanced Use Cases of Marketo Forms 2.0
As for the presentation done by Margaret, it was a perfect example of Marketo hack – how to use Forms 2.0 functionality in a non-conventional way and meet your specific requirements. The speaker showed how she used conditional parameters, multiple alerts, temporary fields, and many other tips.