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All Places > Marketo Whisperer: Implementation Tips > Author: 77d5d0af3d94ce924e10bd794322280f5a8a1b37

I just got off the phone with a client who is just about to hit the “sync” button. It has taken us a lot of time to get to this stage, but it was time well spent… let me explain.


The vast majority of the migrations to Marketo that I have performed (and there have been a lot), have made the decision to migrate somewhat inside of a marketing bubble. Meaning nobody spoke to Tom, the Salesforce Admin, about what the implications might be for him, or more importantly, his data. Now admittedly, that is because Tom, the Salesforce Admin, is a bit surly, and fiercely protective of his SFDC data. You can’t win with that guy.  Needless to say, that means when I call Tom and start talking about the Marketo integration, I can feel him sending white shards of hate through my heart center before we even get through the introductions.


I totally empathize with Tom; he is kind of like the dragon protecting the gold in the cave (and I am pretty sure Tom LOVES The Lord of the Rings movies, and kind of likes that analogy anyway).  SFDC data is VERY valuable, and his job is to insure its integrity. The data that he is charged with is the lifeblood of your sales organization.


Invariably, what puts any SFDC admin at ease is when you present them with your migration plan. Mostly because, when you show them this plan - and I mean like a real document - It lets them know that you understand that the struggle is real; you value their role, and take them seriously. This is, of course, emphasized by the fact that your plan will include them in very real ways. 


Below are some tips to help insure your SFDC sync goes smoothly, and with any luck after the sync, Tom will invite you to his next Lord of the Rings party.


  • Use a sandbox! Even if it might cost you a little extra money, use it! Your SFDC admin will appreciate that you are taking your time and not trying to rush through this integration.  The sandbox will allow you to test and make sure that the sync is working as expected.
  • Use a data dictionary. This is a spreadsheet that you will use to document all of your fields both in SFDC and in Marketo. This will not only document mappings, but it will also document what permissions that Marketo will have on each field. If you are using Marketo Professional Services, your consultant can provide you with a blank dictionary to use, but if you are going it alone, this document is easy enough to create on your own.  Just make sure that you document the friendly names, API names, permissions, and mappings.
  • Understand the vernacular. Remember that in Marketo, Leads and Contacts are both called “leads”. This can become infuriatingly confusing for an SFDC admin. Circumvent this by using the correct vernacular when appropriate, and showing them how they can tell the difference in Marketo. (refer to the SFDC Type field)
  • Have a plan in place for duplicates. Duplicates can be a costly issue in any sales organization. Occasionally, duplicates are purposeful… but usually, they are the bane of Tom’s existence. Put Tom at ease by explaining how Marketo de-dupes, so that he knows that Marketo won’t further add to his duplication nightmare. Then further explain how you can set up Marketo to send an alert when a potential duplicate is created.
  • Custom objects, person accounts, etc. – Plan how you want Marketo to interact with these items, and understand the limitations that Marketo has with dealing with these items. Document all of these on their own tab in your data dictionary.
  • Restrict Marketo’s permissions to only what it absolutely needs.  If there is no reason for Marketo to be able to overwrite something, block that access. If you don’t want Marketo to be able to delete a record, block that from happening. Most importantly, involve Tom in this discussion.
  • Make your SFDC Admin an authorized support contact. This will put them at ease, knowing that they can go directly to support to solve a sync issue.
  • There will INVARIABLY be sync issues. The most common sync issues happen when the Marketo sync can’t access certain records. That’s ok, just send the error to your SFDC admin, they will investigate, and will see that there is likely a section of leads that were inadvertently blocked from the sync. He’ll fix it, and those leads will be updated on the next sync cycle. As frustrating as these sync errors are for you, they will actually put your SFDC Admin at ease, because that means that the sync is working as it is supposed to… only syncing EXACTLY what they tell it to.
  • Lastly, when the sync to sandbox is completed, TEST EVERYTHING, and document your test scripts. When your SFDC admin has approved the tests, ask if they are comfortable repeating the process in production (I go so far as to include a column in my testing document for the SFDC Admin to initial that they have reviewed the test). This is a huge step for them, and you want them to be very comfortable, so involve them in the process.


These are some very basic tips, but they will help you formulate an internal plan for a successful sync. The key to this going smoothly is good communication and involving your SFDC team from as early in the process as possible.  I also suggest that you continue that relationship by having regular meetings to discuss, not only the sync, but ways that you can improve your data. Because at the end of the day, these people aren’t just the dragon guarding the gold, they are also the wizards that can help you manipulate the data in very creative ways.

The decision to migrate to Marketo from another marketing automation platform is one that I know must keep marketers up at night. How do we move all of our emails that are in-flight without a hiccup? How do I handle reporting on activities that happened in my old system after I move to Marketo? The list of questions is seemingly never-ending. The truth is, that there are six simple steps that can make your migration to Marketo nearly painless.


  1. Inventory EVERYTHING – You heard me, EVERYTHING. If you are using Marketo Professional Services, your consultant or project manager can get you a spreadsheet to use, but if not, you can do it yourself (just be sure to put a column in there for “sunsetting,” that will be helpful for step 2). Just like when building a program, start backwards, so you will start with inventorying your creative assets (images, pdf’s, etc.), then your forms (making note if there is any special functionality), then you will inventory your landing page templates, then landing pages (taking note of which template is used, and which creatives are necessary).  Up next you will inventory all of your email templates, and then all of your emails (as with landing pages, make sure you document which template and creative assets are used). Finally, you will start on your programs. This is where inventories can feel daunting, because they have so many moving parts. Honestly, this is the best way to become intimately familiar with your marketing automation operation. First up, start with your marketing programs. It is important that when taking your inventory, you document the smart list (who the program impacts) and the flows (what the program impacts). Don’t be afraid to put screen shots in of these things either. If you are using complex nurture programs, I suggest creating a separate tab just for nurtures, so that you can fully document them. Finally, you will move to your operational programs, these will mostly be your scoring and data management campaigns.
  2. Sunset as much as possible – Do you REALLY need to keep the holiday e-card that you sent in 2012? Probably not.  Unless something is actively in flight, it’s ok to archive it and let it go. I have done a ton of migrations from other platforms to Marketo, and invariably, the inability to let unnecessary assets go, eats up more migration resources than nearly anything else. Check out your metrics on old landing pages, if you are getting only a handful of views a year, it’s probably time to put it with the holiday e-card we just archived.  Note that I have consistently used the term “archive”. We are NOT deleting anything. I repeat, we are NOT deleting anything.
  3. Prioritize everything else – So you decided that you ABSOLUTELY needed the landing page for your St. Patrick’s Day Party from 2013 migrated to your new instance, but it is probably not as important as the new whitepaper that you just released last week that you have spent $100k in marketing dollars promoting… place your inventory in order of priority, from highest to lowest.
  4. Establish a clear naming convention for EVERYTHING – I know it seems elementary, but you would be surprised about how much easier it makes everything, not only migration, but also adoption of your new platform… with a clear and established naming convention, suddenly everyone becomes much more efficient. Now, Marketo certainly has some recommended best practices for naming conventions, but really, I don’t even care if you follow that, just follow something, and make sure EVERYONE follows it. You will thank me later.
  5. Start preparing redirects early – If you are like most clients, you have a ton of landing pages that will all need to have redirects set up by IT. Have this list ready to go by including a column on it in your migration sheet under the Landing page tab.  If you place it directly next to the existing URL, your IT person can easily copy and paste what they need to get your redirects up and running so that no one ever has to see a “404 error” page.
  6. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – OK, now you have a crazy-thorough inventory of your entire marketing operation… this is where it can start to feel overwhelming. Most people think they only have a few emails and landing pages, but when they start documenting it, they realize they might have hundreds or even thousands. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, engage people on your team, hire consultants, bring in interns, it doesn’t matter, but one person should never try this on their own.
  7. TEST everything, REWARD yourself, and FORGIVE yourself – OK, so I know I said 6 steps, but think of this one as a bonus… Before you go live, test every link, sample every email, and QA every program. You are going to miss something. I have done a TON of migrations, some of them very rapid (5 days is my record), some of them more relaxed (2 months is totally cake after doing a 5-day migration), but invariably, no matter what, something ALWAYS gets missed, and that is ok.  With all of your advance work in steps 1-5, the overwhelming majority of your programs and assets are going to be working smoothly and you will be able to quickly react to anything not up and running on day 1. Then, at 5pm on the day you launch, take your team into your office, pop open a bottle of champagne, and celebrate.  You totally earned it. Migrations are hard, and you just saw your marketing team through it mostly unscathed (Bob in demand gen is actually smiling, and not because he is about to snap!).


Seriously, migrations aren’t that bad if you are prepared, you aren’t afraid to get your hands dirty, and have a network of support to help you through the process. There are even twisted individuals like myself, who actually ENJOY them… and yes, I still celebrate with a bottle of champagne after every single one goes live.