Cloud, DB, Digital Marketing, Marketing Automation

How to Set Up Data Hygiene Programs in Marketo – Part 1


Identify and Remove Invalid or Nonexistent Email Addresses

 Data hygiene is the process of amending or removing data that is incorrect, incomplete or improperly formatted.

Data hygiene ensures that your database is healthy, producing the best success rate for marketing campaigns and the most accurate analytics for related business decisions. Businesses invest large sums developing campaigns to nurture leads for their products.  However, if a marketers target incorrectly labeled segments or engage contacts who have clearly indicated their lack of interest, the rate of spam complaints will skyrocket and conversions will drop, costing the business hundreds or thousands of dollars to email the wrong audience.

Marketers need accurate, complete data to target the right audience for right campaign. Consider the opposite scenario: suppose you have a lead with has multiple records in Marketo and different details in each record. This duplicated, conflicting contacts, frequently referred to as “dirty data,” would thwart any the marketing efforts to precisely target specific individuals or groups.

A data hygiene model ensures that your data is always latest and your marketing campaigns are always targeting the right audience and providing the latest details regarding leads to your sales team.

To better understand the impact of dirty data on marketing efforts, see our related post “Three Ways That Poor Data Hygiene Can Hurt Your Revenue.”

In this blog post and the next one, I will outline steps to create a data hygiene model in Marketo. This post will focus on how to identify the records with no email address or an invalid email address, and remove them from your instance.

Identify contacts with invalid email address

An invalid email is the one which doesn’t meet the internet email standards. There are number of different values which we can use to identify the invalid email address. Below are the few examples of invalid email addresses:

  • Email address without @ sign – eg.
  • No username in the email address – eg. “ ”
  • No top-level domain – eg. name@company
  • Garbage characters in the email address such as “? # $ % &” (but note that some characters are valid – see the Microsoft instructions below)
  • Multiple dots in the domain – eg.
  • Email ID starting with dot – eg.
  • Email address preceded by a blackslash – eg. My\

For more examples of invalid email addresses, see Microsoft’s developer page.

To implement the invalid email address check in Marketo, create a Smart Campaign in Marketo, to identify lead with invalid email addresses.


 Example of a Smart Campaign in Marketo, designed to identify email addresses which don’t contain @.

 Example of a Smart Campaign in Marketo, designed to identify email addresses which contain garbage characters.

If you want to track the count of deleted leads separately for each invalid email address scenario, then create a separate Smart Campaign for each invalid email case.

Identify contacts with junk email addresses:

Junk email addresses are emails that have a valid format, but are obviously fake, and may have been entered into your email database by a well-meaning employee filling out forms or a prospect who doesn’t want to be contacted. Some examples include:


You may find a few other examples, possibly the result of pranksters filling out forms with humorous or inappropriate emails that are clearly deletable.

Example of a Smart Campaign in Marketo, designed to identify junk email addresses.

Identify the leads with no email address

Marketo cannot accept the record from CRM that has no email address. However, keep in mind that you can upload a list without email IDs and Marketo will create records for them. These records without email IDs are not useful because they cannot be used for email nurture.


 Example of a Smart Campaign in Marketo, designed to identify records without email address.

Now, once you set up the Smart List step in each campaign, add the Delete step in the Flow tab of each Smart Campaign. We will delete the lead only from Marketo and not from SFDC because, if at any time the record is updated with correct data in the CRM, then it will sync back down to Marketo and create a new record. But if we delete the record from both Marketo and CRM then we will lose all the correct details that are associated with lead.

To track the records which we are deleting from Marketo and not from the CRM, create a new custom field in CRM with the name “Deleted from Marketo” and give read/write permission to the Marketo user on the field. In Marketo set the value of this field as TRUE before deleting the lead.

Example of a Flow step for a Smart Campaign in Marketo, designed to delete the lead from Marketo.

Please see the next blog post – Part 2 – coming next. There I will provide information on how to manage hard bounces and inactive leads, which also are an important part of data hygiene.

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