New Marketo Engage Feature: Global Form Validation Rules

Form validation rules—a long-awaited Marketo Engage feature—are here. But there are a few things you should know before you start building with this new tool.

What is form validation?

Generally speaking, form validation is a script that checks for two things. First, are all required fields are complete? If so, the data entered is then checked for the appropriate form and value. For example, validation can prevent someone from submitting a form without a required email field. But it can also prevent submission of an email address without an “@” sign. Validation can also check for the required number of digits in a postal code. Those are simple examples, but there’s a lot you can do to ensure clean data is entering your database.

Marketo’s Global Form Validation Rules allow you to block specific domains from submitting Marketo Engage forms. The form validation rules work on both Marketo Engage landing pages and anywhere else you have embedded your Marketo Engage form. Currently, the Marketo Global Form Validation only applies to the email field and only as an exclusion.

Why use email validation rules?

Earlier, we gave the example of using validation to ensure the data provided is formatted like a valid email address, but email validation rules can get much more complex. Marketo’s Global Form Validation Rules allow you to block certain domains from submitting a form and finding their way into your database. If a user tries to submit a form using a blocked email domain, they’ll see the custom error message you provide. Here are a few use cases for restricting email domains:

  • Require a corporate email – You can choose to require a corporate email address instead of a personal account. For example, would be accepted, but would be rejected. A corporate email domain can provide a wealth of information—company name, headquarters, industry, and more—information that would not be available if a lead uses a free email address.
  • Reject temporary emails – Temporary or disposable email addresses are useful for people who don’t want to receive additional emails or spam. From a marketing perspective, however, it can make a mess of your database. It’s better to ensure you’re providing a positive email experience to your users so they aren’t afraid to submit their real email addresses.
  • Limit to a specific domain – Sometimes you only want a specific list of companies to complete a form, such as a special offer to select companies only on your ABM list. Or, maybe you’re using your Marketo instance to manage an internal company event, a case where you’d only want employees to complete a form.
  • Block a specific domain – Prevent your competitors from accessing your content before their email can even be added to your blacklist. Sure, they could still use a personal email address, but you can choose to block those as well by requiring corporate email addresses.
This custom script is designed to reject invalid, disposable, and free email domains. A custom rejection message will be displayed based on the type of rejected email submitted.

Limitations of Marketo Engage Global Form Validation Rules

Long desired by Marketo Engage users, Global Form Validation Rules are finally here! However, its current capabilities leave a bit to be desired.

  • Global application: The form validation rules will be applied globally, to every form in your Marketo Engage instance. It’s unclear if this is just the first iteration of the new feature, or if that will be a permanent effect.
  • Email-only: The new Marketo Engage functionality only applies to the email field. There’s no word if there are plans to develop the technology for other fields, so if you’d like to validate other fields, you’ll need to deploy custom scripts.
  • Exclusions only: Finally, the validation rule functions on exclusions only. Marketo Engage Form Validation Rules can’t limit submissions to (a) selected domain(s). If you’re looking for an inclusive rule, you’ll need to deploy a custom script.
  • 2,000 character limit: You can enter a maximum of 2,000 characters in your custom validation rule. That may sound like a lot, but consider the list of free domains provided by Marketo Engage. As of publishing, the list includes 3,782 domains. At approximately 5 characters each, the provided list is already 3,000 characters over the limit. You’ll have to severely parse down the free email list to use it, especially if you’d also like to exclude your competitors’ domains.
  • One rule per field per form: Only one rule can be applied to each field. Combined with the character limit, the out-of-the-box form validation rules don’t provide many useful options. You can include a list of competitors and/or a portion of free domains, but not an exhaustive full list.

Get Started with Native Email Validation

To start taking advantage of this new Marketo Engage feature, an Admin user must enable it in your instance and provide permission to the role types of your choosing. Check out these step-by-step directions from Marketo Engage for help.

Next, you’ll navigate to Global Form Validation Rules under Admin > Database Management. You can choose to enable the pre-loaded “Consumer Email Domain Blocklist” rule or create your own.

To create your own, click “New Form Validation Rule” from the top menu. Add a rule name and an optional description. The rule name and description will not display publicly, only the error message.

Next, add the error message you would like displayed when someone attempts to submit a form with a blocked domain.

To the Rules box, enter the domains you would like to exclude, separated by commas. Remember, there is a 2,000-character limit.

Finally, you have two options for saving your new rule. You can save the rule as inactive by just clicking “Create.” Inactive rules will not apply to forms. To activate the form, check the box for “Activate Rule.” Then click “Create” to immediately activate the rule on all forms. Remember, active Marketo Engage Global Form Validation rules apply to every form in your instance.

Building Advanced Form Rules and Logic

While it’s great to see this long-awaited feature become available, the current iteration isn’t very strong or scalable. Instead, we would consider using javascript to create specific rules that apply only to specific forms and/or pages using the specific form. Custom scripts can validate fields other than email, too, neither of which is possible with Marketo’s native functionality today. Check out “I didn’t know Marketo could do that!” for more examples of custom development or drop us a line and we can problem-solve together.

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At Digital Pi, we use technology to connect revenue to marketing efforts. We fuse marketing strategies, processes, data and applications to make marketing technology solutions work for clients' businesses.

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