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All Places > Employee Blog: From our desk to yours > 2016 > March

Today’s consumers have unlimited choice, access to the best research, and are being bombarded by literally thousands of marketing messages each day.  So it’s no wonder that many marketers are finding it difficult to break through the noise and make a connection with their targeted audience. Ultimately, the modern marketer needs to develop a sound strategy so their message appears front and center in the consumers mind.  For each industry and product this strategy may be quite different, but what I can say is that there are 5 pitfalls some marketers fall into that ultimately undermine their success.

  1. Marketers are not treating their target audience as individuals.80% of the customer’s journey today is self-directed, which means that most of what a buyer learns about your products, services or company is a result of their own exploration.  Further, according to the best research, 87% of customers demand a personalized experience in all their interactions.  This means that your customers want you to know them and remember them every time they interact with your company or brand.  So if you are not taking the time to personalize each interaction with your target audience, then you are really missing an opportunity.  And I am not just referring to things such as starting your emails with “Dear Jane” but really personalizing content based on what their preferences and interests are.  This brings me to my next point.
  2. Actual user behavior is not being used to target the audience.  One of the best ways to engage your target audience is to trigger key messages based on what an individual person is doing. The fact is that messages sent based on customer actions get more opens, clicks and conversions they are contextualWhen David Daniels, co-founder of the Relevancy Group, was an analyst at Jupiter Research, he reported that targeting emails based on web click-stream data increased open rates by more than 50%, and increased conversion rates by more than 350%.  Triggering on user behavior and creating relevant scoring models are steps I often see skipped and marketers suffer because of it.
  3. Marketing efforts are not consistent.  As I outlined above, sending out random email blasts will not cut it these days as consumers are just too busy to remember such messages.  Marketing must shift from talking at people to building personalized and continuous relationships with people. They need to engage them throughout the buying cycle and beyond in a consistent, relevant and targeted way.  Furthermore, the message must remain consistent as well.  This means your marketing efforts should look, feel, and sound the same way across all of your channels. If your targets hear the same message over and over again, the same way each time, they are much more likely to remember it.
  4. Marketing efforts are not designed to meet key business objectives.  In my opinion the biggest mistake marketers are making today is not tracking key performance indicators back to corporate business objectives.  If you continue to collect traditional marketing metrics such as opens and clicks to support your decision-making, you may very well be setting yourself up to be excluded from a seat at the revenue table. Most of these metrics are meaningless to key stakeholders because they don’t tie directly to revenues. Focusing on driving revenue is the best way to align with your executive leadership and even your revenue teams. To put this in another way, ask yourself, “how are my efforts contributing directly to the company’s bottom line?”
  5. Not using an opti-channel approach.  During a recent conversation about opti-channel with Ashley Johnston, SVP, global marketing at Experian Marketing Services, she said, “People don't wake up and say, ‘I'm going to be a mobile consumer today.' They just use the channel that best fits the moment or task.” A customer rarely engages across every channel so you must be able to let them choose their channel and let them change that choice from day to day.  Opti-channel is about understanding how the customer prefers to engage.  This means setting up a communication strategy that actively listens for behaviors and creates a seamless and unified experience across them all as a customer engages with your brand.

At Marketo, avoiding these pitfalls is known as the abc’s of marketing.  To sum it up marketers need to engage people As individuals, Based on what they do, Continuously over time, Directed at an outcome, and Everywhere they are.  I hope you found this engaging and please let me know of any other pitfalls we should be thinking about when developing our next marketing strategy.   

How do custom dupe rules work

If all dupe fields match, the existing record is updated, otherwise a new record is created. However, if email address is blank, a new record will always be created.



Custom Dupe Field



New record


New record


Update record


New record


New record



New record



New record


So the matching is pretty strict, and only when both fields are exactly the same, the record is updated. A blank value for the Custom Dupe rule is also a value, and is therefore often the cause of duplicates.


If the email address is blank, Marketo will always create a new record. This is true with or without a custom dupe rule. The only way to update a record without email address is via the API, while specifying the Marketo ID or Foreign System Person ID (see below).


Keep in mind that Custom Dupe Rules usually apply to all input methods: API, list import and forms. So all forms need to provide all keys also. As an example, your unsubscribe page needs to include the Last Name (pre-filled, possible hidden), otherwise it will create new Leads when people unsubscribe (Last Name is empty and does therefore not match the Last Name on file).


If the dupe rule is by Lead Partition, there is a specific caveat: Lead Partition is not an actual field. For forms and List uploads, it uses the primary Lead Partition of the Workspace for matching purposes. That is usually the desired behavior. However, when using the API, you’ll need to specify the Workspace, which is only possible in some API calls, but not all of them.

Advanced configuration

There are a couple of advanced configuration options available for custom dupe rules. First of all, it is possible to enable them separately for API, list import and form submission. For example, if form submission does not have the custom dupe rule, it will simply match by email address, but list import and API would use the custom dupe rules. This is not a common setup, but it may be useful for some situations.


It is also possible to add more than 1 Custom Dupe Rule, using 3 or more fields. This is also uncommon, and you run the risk that a lot of unintentional duplicates are being created.


The SOAP API also offers some options to create duplicates. The most commonly used option is the Foreign System Person ID, or FSPID in short. This is an external ID that can be used instead of the email address. If you upsert a record with FSPID as the unique key, it will match on FSPID. On match it will update, otherwise it will create a new record. It is important to note that the FSPID can only be set via the SOAP API, and it is recommended to push forms through the SOAP API, as well as List imports, otherwise those Leads won’t have an FSPID.

Process to set up Custom Dupe Rules

Custom dupe fields can be set up by filing a ticket with Marketo Support. It is generally recommended to enlist the help of a Marketo consultant for more complex setups, otherwise you run the risk of unintentionally creating a lot of duplicates.


Although Custom Dupe Rules can be very useful in specific situations when the behavior is well understood, they often lead to the creation of large numbers of unintentional duplicates. It is recommended to carefully evaluate alternatives before implementing custom dupe rules and – if possible – enlist the help of a Marketo consultant to review the options.

De-Duplication in Marketo

By default, Marketo will dedupe new records by email address. If there already is a record in Marketo with the same email address, that record will be updated with the new information. If no matching email is found, a new record is created.

If you set up a custom dupe rule, Marketo will match on email as primary key, and another field as a secondary key. For example, if you add Last Name as a secondary dupe field, Joe Smith ( will create a new record, even though Catherine Doe with the same email address is already in the database. This is because both email address and last name need to match to update the existing record. So if Joseph Smith ( is entered, the first name will be changed from Joe to Joseph, because both email and last name match.

Custom dupe rules apply to list uploads, form submissions and to most API calls. It does not apply to the native CRM sync, which matches on CRM ID instead of email.

Common scenarios

Custom dupe rules are typically used for a limited number of scenarios.

Dupe by Lead Partition

The most common scenario is if the Marketo instance has multiple partitions that need to be independent from each other. Normally, the same Lead can exist in only one partition, not in multiple. However, when you add “Lead Partition” as a custom dupe rule, a record with the same email address can exist in multiple partitions. This can be useful if two completely separate business units are on the same Marketo instance.

Dupe by First Name

If multiple members of a household use the same email address, dupe by first name ensures that all members get their own record in Marketo. However, if multiple household members are part of the same email send, only 1 email will be sent (to the first created record). Trigger emails can be sent to both records individually. Communication Limits apply to each record separately, so with a  limit of 5 emails and 2 records with the same email address, the email address can receive up to 10 emails per week. If someone uses multiple variations of the first name (e.g. Beth & Elizabeth), this creates unintentional duplicates.

Dupe by Last Name

Dupe by Email and Last Name is often used if multiple employees of the same company use the same email address. The same caveats as for “first name” apply. Also, it is less and less common that people don’t have their own email address.

Dupe by Foreign Lead Key

Some companies maintain their own unique lead key, which allows multiple records with the same email address. To be able to replicate this in Marketo, this lead key can be added as a custom dupe field. However, all form submissions and list uploads will also need to include this Lead Key, otherwise additional duplicates are created. This scenario is therefore often not advisable.