How to Keep Your Marketo Instance Squeaky Clean (In Three Steps!)

BY: Lindsay Fay

PUBLISHED: 5/16/2023

It’s no surprise that most marketing operations teams are constantly operating at full capacity. With the top three responsibilities of marketing operations teams being campaign and lead management, MarTech management, and performance measurement and analytics (Marketo User Study 2022), it can be challenging to find the time to maintain your Marketo instance.

Yet the importance of a clean and well-maintained instance is immeasurable – email performance metrics may suffer when you don’t consistently monitor and clean your data. Not to mention, some instances have limits on the size of their database in Marketo, so by routinely clearing inactive records, you’re saving money in the long run.

That’s why we dug into this topic with Stephanie Green, Director of Client Strategy at MERGE.

Meet Stephanie


With 20+ years of experience in the marketing industry and nine years of experience in Marketo, Stephanie is in charge of overseeing the operations for one of MERGE’s largest accounts, as well as managing a team of Marketo consultants.

What is the biggest culprit to a “dirty” instance?


Whether you’ve inherited an old instance or your team doesn’t have naming conventions, there are countless culprits to a dirty instance. But one of the most popular culprits? Most marketing operations teams don’t know their instance is dirty, or they don’t know how to tackle the issue.

The typical scenario looks something like this: leads go stale, yet you keep emailing them, causing users to get frustrated and unsubscribe.

Now, what are two tell-tale signs that your instance needs to be cleaned up? Poor performance metrics in campaigns can be a sign you’re communicating with uninterested leads. To tackle this, look at your audience population and seek out inactive records. You might want to consider a re-engagement campaign, saying something along the lines of “You’ll stop hearing from us if you don’t respond.”

Another tell-tale sign that it’s time for a cleanup is sync fails. Something as minor as spelling out a state vs. state abbreviations can cause sync fails between Marketo and Salesforce.

This is why it’s important to ensure that the stored values on your form fields are consistent with your Salesforce picklist values. If you’ve run into this issue, try running a data normalization campaign in Marketo to eliminate redundant data and data errors.

Why a clean Marketo instance is important


When you have bad data, your campaigns will likely suffer as a result. Keeping your instance clean ensures your metrics are also clean – and an accurate reflection of your team’s hard work.

We typically see email performance metrics suffer when teams fail to consistently monitor and clean their data. Not to mention, you could be fracturing ties with those on your database without even knowing it – we all know no one likes to receive emails that they have no interest in. Communicate with people who want to communicate with you by regularly monitoring and cleaning your database.

Now, you may be wondering: how often should my team be cleaning our instance?

The reality is that your team should always be aware of this and implement best practices – from folder structures to naming conventions and standardization campaigns. Stephanie recommends that at least every quarter, your team should clean and monitor your database.

💡 Tip: Instances can become full of test records – make sure the records in your instance are actually in use. If it was just a one-time test, delete them!

Nervous to delete data? You don’t always have to delete data. Instead, keep the records in Salesforce but remove them from Marketo.

Three steps on keeping your instance tidy


Wondering where your team can get started? Take a look at these three tips below:

#1 – Ensure internal alignment

The first step of any change management plan is to ensure everyone is on the same page. You’ll want to nail down a (documented) strategy around the following with your team:

  • Folder structure
  • Naming convention
  • Tagging of data


#2 – Data cleanup

This step will require some discovery. Stephanie recommends building smart lists to identify your inactive audience. Start by creating smart lists to see if users have not filled out a form or clicked a link in a window of time, IE 18-24 months, 24-36 months, etc. You might be surprised by what you find!

Once you’ve identified your inactive population, consider suppressing them from your email sends or try to reengage them through a reengagement campaign. You may also choose to remove these records from Marketo to free up some space in your instance.

When you remove the unengaged users, your metrics will improve and space will be freed up in your instance. A double-win.

#3 – Build data normalization campaigns

A great way to weed out uninterested users is by leveraging data normalization campaigns.

For those unfamiliar with data normalization campaigns, here’s a simple definition: data normalization campaigns are when you standardize fields to be consistent across the database, making it easy to query on and sync with Salesforce.

To build a data normalization campaign, create a Marketo campaign that takes information from a specific field and builds it into a consistent format. All values from the database should be the same for the values you select.

Common use cases for normalization campaigns may consist of the country, state, or company size.


💡 Tip: Whichever value you decide to standardize your fields with, make sure those are the values stored on the database from the forms.

Aside from the steps above, you’ll also want to ensure new team members understand your instance organization practices. This way, your team can continue to follow and enforce practices.

At the end of the day, taking the time to clean your instance is an immense undertaking. Yet the benefits associated with a clean and tidy instance are immeasurable – from leads getting to Sales faster and response rates going up, you’ll quickly see the rewards of your work.


Does your organization need help achieving ROI from Marketo? Learn how the Marketo experts at MERGE can help. Contact us today!