How Does Marketo Decide Whether a Person Receives Email or Not?

Included in this article:


Marketo provides several options to help you decide whether a person should receive emails. The options within Marketo Sales Insight (MSI) can alter this behavior, so this article will go through what those differences are.

How Marketo Decides Whether to Send an Email

There are three ways that marketing emails can be stopped from being sent by Marketo. Full details can be found here Understanding Unsubscribe - Marketo Docs but here's a recap:

  1. People have the option to unsubscribe from emails. If they unsubscribe, marketing emails will be blocked, but operational emails will still be sent.
  2. If the email hard bounces, Marketo will mark the email as invalid, which blocks all further emails.
  3. If your organization wants to block emails to particular people, there two options:
    • “Marketing Suspended” will block Marketing emails, but not operational emails (e.g. an email with a whitepaper that was requested via a form fill-out).
    • “Black Listed” means that this person will not receive any emails of any kind (e.g. used for competitors).

Emails Sent from Sales Insight

Default setting

Emails sent through MSI are sent depending on the settings in Marketo Admin > Sales Insight. The standard out-of-the-box settings for these 'sales emails' is to "Show Unsubscribe Footer" for "All Emails".


Unsubscribe footers

  • Unsubscribe footer included

If the Unsubscribe Footer is included in the email, then the email will be considered a marketing email. MSI will therefore "Respect Unsubscribe Settings" by following the record's Unsubscribe/Suspended/Blacklisted/Invalid status.

  • Unsubscribe footer not included

Emails not showing the footer will "Ignore Unsubscribe Settings" and are sent regardless of whether the email address is Invalid, Unsubscribed, Marketing Suspended or Blacklisted.


MSI Email Setting Types

There are 3 types of sales emails sent from MSI: Standard Marketo marketing emails, emails marked Operational in Marketo, and emails without templates in MSI. The settings in Admin > Sales Insight will determine whether each type is sent or not.

Note: Communication Limits do not ever apply to emails sent from MSI or from the Outlook/Gmail plugin.

  • Standard Marketo marketing emails

Marketing emails from Marketo will either "Respect Unsubscribe Settings" or "Ignore Unsubscribe Settings" depending on which option is chosen. If set to "Ignore Unsubscribe Settings", the email will always be sent unless the email is invalid.

  • Emails set as Operational in Marketo

Marketo's operational emails published to MSI will only be sent if the setting is to "Ignore Unsubscribe Settings".

  • Emails without templates in MSI

If an email is sent through MSI but is not drafted off of a Marketo email that has been published to MSI, then it is not linked back to a Marketo email. The footer that contains the unsubscribe information is appended to Marketo marketing emails. If the email is not drafted in Marketo but instead is drafted from within MSI, then that footer never gets appended to the email, so therefore there's no way for it to even consider unsubscribe settings.

How Deliveries are Logged

When emails are delivered, they will appear in the Email tab of Sales Insight in that record. If the email was blocked (unsubscribed, invalid email, etc.), there won't be any indication that it was blocked, but the email won't show in the Email tab.

Emails sent by Marketo will show the Marketo logo. Emails sent by MSI won't show this logo. Note: this is true even if it is the exact same email sent.


Outlook / Gmail Plug-in

Emails sent from the Outlook/Gmail plug-in are always sent.  These emails are sent through your own Outlook/Gmail and not through Marketo. Because the emails are not sent from Marketo, there is no check if the record is unsubscribed or blacklisted, etc. If sent with the “Send and Track” button, these emails will be logged in Marketo but they will not be mail merged.

All emails that are actually sent (in other words: not blocked) will be visible in the Activity Log in Marketo, Activity History in (if configured to sync this) and the Email tab in Sales Insight. If an email is blocked it is not recorded anywhere.

Send to
Email Invalid?
Send to
Send to
Send to
If record hit Communication Limits, will the email send?
Smart CampaignNormalNoNoNoNoNo
Sales Insight in SFDCShow FooterNoNoNoNoYes
Hide FooterNoYesYesYesYes
Outlook/Gmail Plug-inAll EmailsYesYesYesYesYes