Can Marketo create contacts in SFDC rather than leads? I don't mean converting a lead into a contact, I mean Marketo recognizing that an account already existing and placing a new contact there directly. Is that possible?
It's not currently possible for Marketo to create Contacts in Salesforce. I don't know that this is something that will change in the future, but I would encourage you to submit an idea or vote for a similar idea that's already been posted.
Try this: Convert Lead - Marketo Docs - Product Docs (and when you use it, only use it for new leads - see the caveat in the docs about duplication)
This will create the contact, but you will not run correct account matching and you will create an opportunity, which might not be the desired effect
On top of John's anwser, this would, IMHO, be extremely difficult to implement on Marketo side. How do you recognize for sure and with a high hit rate that the contact already exists? The answer on this question also depends on the business you are in, since accounts do not have the same meaning for every company. For some, 1 account = 1 group head, other 1 account = 1 legal entity, for other 1 account = any organisation unit...
All the experiences I had on this, we had to deal with the issue in SFDC, using triggers and implementing business rules that were always different. We would let Marketo create the lead, then have a trigger automatically detect the contact and potentially convert the lead. We had some pretty good results with simple rules (match on email domain + country).
This automated conversion causes another problem for campaign reporting in SFDC : since the lead in converted to a contact without opportunity and the opportunity is added later, you SFDC opportunity will not have any source campaign, which will break some reporting. Marketo can handle this better though.
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