The operators "Is Before" or "In Past Before" with a date field return people for whom that field is empty as well as people with date fields earlier than the target date. This can easily trip up even an experienced Marketo user because this behavior is not at all intuitive. In normal language if you say, for example, "raise your hand if you bought a car before December 30th, 2000" - you wouldn't expect people to raise their hands who had never purchased a car.
I suggest that Marketo comment these date field operators in the same way that they add this comment to Data Value Changed filters: "Note: Data of this activity type is archived after 90 days." Similarly, add a comment that says something like "Note: is before and in past before includes people with empty field values. Add another filter for "is not empty" if you want to exclude empty records."
To illustrate, suppose the person email@example.com was never synced to SFDC so SFDC Created Date is empty. The natural logical expectation is that a smart list with either of these sets of filters would come up empty. But it doesn't. Puka is a member unless you add an additional filter (with OR) for "SFDC Created Date is empty."
This would directly contradict behavior that's already in place for string values: for example, if you do Email Address is not firstname.lastname@example.org, this will also return records which have an empty email address value. I'm not sure this should really be changed for the sake of consistency.
Hi Courtney -
I disagree that this would contradict the behavior that's already in place for string values. Your example is email address "is not" email@example.com. I think it would be normal to expect this to return records which have an empty email address value. After all, if you say "all baskets that don't contain fruit" - that includes empty baskets. Date "is before" or "in past before" is different. If you say "date is before 12/31/2018" - most people would expect that means a date earlier than 12/31/18 rather than an empty date. For example, if you asked for a list of "all lots with homes built before 12/31/18" you would expect a list of lots with older homes. You wouldn't expect that list to include empty lots.
A colleague of mine pointed out that if Marketo made the change promoted in my idea it would break existing logic for anyone who used "is before" or "in past before" with the expectation that this would return records with empty date fields - in other words, anyone who was relying on the current expected behavior. So I'd like to amend my idea and ask that Marketo comment the operator in the same way that they add this comment to Data Value Changed filters: "Note: Data of this activity type is archived after 90 days." In other words, if you use "in past before" or "is before" operators with a date field, Marketo could cause a notice to appear to warn people that the operator will include empty date fields.
As stated in another post, I would prefer the original behavior of your idea, where the behaviro would be changed, but only after a setting is changed by the admin.
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