There are hundreds—maybe even thousands—of blog posts about database clean-up and marketing automation optimization. If you want to get started with the basics, check out our previous Marketo housekeeping tips. They are still highly recommended. This year, though, we encourage you to dive a little deeper and focus on the commonly overlooked areas to improve your Adobe Marketo instance and experience.
Clean Up Your Database
Data cleanliness is always a challenge, but The Great Resignation of 2021 could mean your records are becoming outdated even more quickly than “normal”. Not only will inaccurate data limit your ability to deliver effective marketing strategies—in the end, it will cost you money.
Any time is a great time to set up a health check for your database. Look for marketability, inactivity, accuracy, and audience groupings. Take some time to run smart lists and People Performance Reports to review the following categories:
- Duplicate records
- Leads that have been inactive for 15 + months*
- Missing email addresses
- Hard bounced email addresses
- Competitors and other undesirable groups (think: students, job applicants)
- Marketing Suspended and Blacklisted
Review the leads that fall into these categories and develop a clean-up/purge plan.
Considerations Before Hitting “Delete”
First, *Marketo data retention is limited to 90 days for email and website activity. Consider setting up a process to capture the Last Activity and Last Activity date in custom fields so you can accurately identify leads that have been inactive for more than 90 days. Not only do inactive leads waste precious space, but they also increase your risk of emailing a spam trap. According to Litmus’ Guide to Spam Traps and How to Avoid Them, “Recycled Traps are email addresses that were used by real people in the past, became abandoned, and at some point were converted into a trap by the inbox provider.” So keeping outdated and inactive email addresses can damage your sender score, deliverability rates, and inbox placement.
Thanks to Marketo’s Durable Unsubscribe, you do not have to keep unsubscribed leads in your database. Marketo keeps a master email status, which is separate from the unsubscribe flag visible on the lead detail record. If the unsubscribe flag is set from false to true, the master email status is updated, and the change is propagated to other leads with the same email address. This prevents unsubscribed and deleted leads from becoming emailable if imported again later. This also means you’ll need a process to re-subscribe leads that do opt-in again.
Finally, you should discuss and align with your Sales team to determine if any of the leads you’re removing from Marketo should also be removed from your CRM, if you want a 1:1 relationship between the systems, or if you should add a flag to prevent unmarketable leads that Sales is using from syncing back to Marketo. For example, Sales may add leads without email addresses or may still have a relationship with leads that have unsubscribed from Marketo emails. Marketing can’t use these records and shouldn’t pay to keep them in Marketo, but that doesn’t mean they should be thrown out either.
Doing this annually or bi-annually will help reduce your risk of being caught by a spam trap and keep your database clean and compliant with your database limits.
Data Clean-up Summary
To avoid holding onto unnecessary or outdated data your team should do the following:
- Access the health of the data. How confident are you in the accuracy? Do you have any data append processes in place?
- Give a time limit to keeping data. Should we data cleanse quarterly or annually? How long should we allow inactivity before removal?
- Find other more affordable areas to store data that is not being used. What is the data being used for? If not for a Marketing campaign, can/should it be stored elsewhere, such as a CRM?
Secure your Marketo Landing Pages with SSL Certification
If you have not done so already, it’s a great time to convert your Marketo instance to a secure server. There are many reasons to have secure landing pages (HTTPS instead of HTTP), including:
- Referrer information is not transferred from secure to insecure pages. If a new person clicks a link to go to your landing page from a secure site, you will not have all the referrer information available in Marketo.
- Google Chrome flags insecure pages that include forms and search boxes. When a user clicks on the form or search box, a warning will appear in the address bar.
- It is expected that eventually all web browsers will identify all insecure pages, even pages without forms.
First impressions are critical when introducing your brand to new prospects. You don’t want your brand to be perceived as a security risk. This will affect conversion rates and decrease the ROI of your marketing initiatives. Now is the time to consider transitioning your Marketo LPs.
Marketo’s SSL Landing Pages FAQ article has more information on the services they provide.
Optimize Global System Processes
There are many global processes that need to be revisited regularly to ensure that they still align with your evolving business needs. Examples include Lead Scoring, Lifecycle Model, Channels and Tag. Do the processes you put in place years ago still apply? Should they be modified or are you due for an overhaul?
When making these considerations, include all stakeholders who can provide honest feedback. Ask questions about the quality of MQLs to gauge the effectiveness of your Scoring strategy. Discuss any changes to the sales process and/or milestones that may need to be accommodated for in your Lifecycle strategy. Take a look at your Marketing Plan to determine if the current Channels and Tags will effectively meet your needs for the upcoming year. Taking the time to do this now will set the stage for successful reporting.
Refresh Your Nurture Campaigns
If you have evergreen engagement programs or automated emails that remain active year after year, it’s critical to review the content periodically. Consider creating a spreadsheet for each campaign with details on the contents of each email including links. You may need to update:
- Content that refers to 2021
- Whitepapers with outdated information
- Web content links that are no longer available
- Emails that are not performing well (refresh or replace entirely)
- Introduce new content to re-engage or continue to engage with your audience
Conclusion: Rome wasn’t built in a day
Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was your database, marketing campaigns and assets. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed and procrastinate this important work. But choosing just one area to tackle this quarter will provide benefits you’ll see all year. Choose the area that you think will have the most impact or even the area feels most achievable right now. That way, you can gain momentum and show the value of this often-overlooked work as you improve your instance. We can also help with automated data clean-up, system set-up, MOPs management, and more.