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How to integrate Marketo with Salesforce: steps and use cases

Written on.

Learn how to integrate Marketo with Salesforce, the essential integration steps, and how to efficiently align marketing and sales teams in this Marketo Salesforce integration guide.

6 minute read

Why integrate Marketo and Salesforce

In today’s changing world with technology-boosting innovations and domination of hybrid sales models, it becomes essential to meet and often exceed customers’ expectations. Considering the amount of information each professional consumes throughout the day in today’s world, consistent messaging and customer experience are the basic needs on the market. 

Building a seamless customer journey and message consistency can feel like juggling too many balls if marketing and sales activities are running separately and are not connected by shared goals, strategy, and up-to-date customer data. It is critical to ensure these departments work in unison to target the right customer, start meaningful conversations, and increase sales wins. In fact, organizations with aligned sales and marketing activities are 67% more efficient at winning deals.

In order to orchestrate the customer journey across multiple touch points organizations must ensure timely  Salesforce and Marketo integration which streamlines lead management, improves message consistency, and provides better customer understanding and personalization.  

However, maintaining the native Marketo to Salesforce integration, especially for organizations with large datasets and complex business processes, isn’t as simple as adjusting a few settings. Successful integration requires the right project planning and a deep understanding of both Salesforce and Marketo. 

Choices When Integrating Marketo and Salesforce

You will have multiple options to work with when integrating Salesforce and Marketo together.

The following will step you through the limitations, optimal choices, and long-term considerations of this critical path decision.

  1. The native vendor supplied a connector from Marketo
  2. Build your own
  3. The no-code Marketo Salesforce connector

Steps to integrate Marketo and Salesforce

Here are steps to consider before setting up Marketo Salesforce integration.

how to integrate marketo with salesforce

Understand your lead lifecycle

Before setting up Salesforce Marketo integration, you should understand the lead lifecycle from the first touch point till conversion into paying customers. Identify areas where Salesforce and Marketo can complement each other to streamline your lead management process and improve customer experience. For instance, you may need to ensure proper marketing and sales teams alignment for account-based marketing strategy implementation. 

Map out the business process

The business process or the execution steps are the most critical consideration in a successful Salesforce and Marketo integration because it determines how your organization will function, the downstream execution, attribution, and customer journey. For example, the lead-to-close process is never a one-way step function because all leads aren’t created equally. The lead and customer data is often part of multiple engagement steps and different qualifying criteria on the journey from MQL to SQL. Mapping out the business process helps identify automation points in the process, business rules, and triggering events to help manage leads efficiently at scale.

Identify your integration needs

Determine what data you want to integrate between Marketo and Salesforce to reach your revenue goals. For example, you may want to have contacts, accounts, and other records up-to-date across your revenue funnel to ensure marketing and sales teams' alignment in order to improve retention and sales win rates.

Understand your data

For successful Marketo-to-Salesforce integration, it's important to understand how data is structured. Since both tools have a lot of customization options, it's crucial to map out an existing schema both in Marketo and in Salesforce so that data can sync cleanly between the tools. By mapping out each Marketo record to a compatible Salesforce record, you can make sure that none of the data is lost during the transfer.

Develop an integration plan

Plan the integration carefully, including evaluating integration tools, identifying the necessary frequency of data transfer, and any potential issues that may arise during the integration.

Test and monitor the integration

Test the integration thoroughly to ensure that the data is moving between systems accurately. Monitor the integration regularly to ensure that it continues to function properly.

Challenges when integrating Marketo with Salesforce

The premise of the native integration design is that your data is clean, well structured, and is the same in both systems leading to perfect synchronization every time. Here are a few operational problems you may come across when using native Salesforce Marketo integration. 

Data integrates unidirectionally except for leads, contacts, and Salesforce campaigns

It’s important to keep in mind that native Salesforce and Marketo integration is mostly unidirectional and allows data to flow in only one direction.

In practical terms, this means that any updates or changes made in Salesforce will automatically be reflected in Marketo, on the other hand, any customer engagement or intent data will not be transferred from Marketo to Salesforce. If focusing on prospects most probable to convert is your priority, you won't be able to create a proper segmentation in Salesforce unless manually update information. 

This could result in lower sales win rates and revenue loss. 

Failed record syncs

Sometimes, your records may not sync due to several reasons such as missing information, required fields not filled, validation errors, or improper sync settings. Fixing these records manually can be time-consuming and may distract you from working on more important projects. As a result, ongoing maintenance may become challenging and accumulate over time.

Slow syncs

Marketo and Salesforce users may experience delays in syncing, especially if their organization has millions of records. Although syncing can take only a few seconds or minutes, larger updates can overload the system, making it difficult to access real-time data or trigger events based on it. For example, if you are running multiple campaigns in Marketo simultaneously, the constant updates may slow down your sync, which can prevent your Salesforce instance from triggering additional events based on campaign status. 

Overwritten data

Sometimes, the connection between Marketo and Salesforce can cause lead data to be lost, especially when syncing campaigns with leads that came directly from Marketo forms. For example, if you have an ongoing campaign that is continuously syncing records between the two systems, new leads that come in from Marketo forms might sync too quickly for Marketo to process all of the necessary lead enrichment and preparation. As a result, Salesforce may sync back to Marketo and overwrite any data that you generated in the meantime. This can cause essential data to be lost, making it difficult for your marketing and sales teams to follow up with valuable leads. It can reduce productivity and directly affect your sales pipeline.

Duplicated data

Marketo has a built-in feature that helps prevent duplicate records, but this feature doesn't check for duplicates when syncing data from Salesforce. Marketo assumes that all incoming data is correct and doesn't check for duplicates, which can cause problems if duplicate data is received. If you encounter regular issues with duplicate data, you may need to manually fix the records or seek help from a third-party service.

How to Enable Marketo Salesforce Integration With Intelligent Automation

While the native Marketo and Salesforce integration is a proper approach for simple syncs of small databases, most professionals need more advanced and flexible tools to configure their integration for proper sales and marketing alignment and customer experience improvement goals. An alternative to the native integration is the Intelligent Automation Platform (IAP) of Put It Forward.

An IAP is a low-code platform that allows building custom process automation without technical skills. Each process automation or workflow combines prebuilt integration connectors to different applications with rule-based triggers using a drag-and-drop visual interface. The IAP easily orchestrates powerful, multi-step automation that kicks off a variety of operations, responding to any custom trigger. With an IAP, you can save hours of manual work, drive productivity, and scale mission-critical processes.

salesforce marketo integration

Challenges and complex processes that you can leverage the IAP for

One-to-many or many-to-many relationships

In a Marketo Salesforce integration, one-to-many or many-to-many relationships between objects can cause data integrity issues. For example, if a lead has multiple contacts in Salesforce, which contact should be associated with the lead in Marketo? Using the IAP you can specify the rules and unique identifiers for determining which objects are related and how. 

Duplicate contacts

Another common challenge in a Marketo Salesforce integration is duplicated contacts. This occurs when the same contact exists in both Marketo and Salesforce, leading to inconsistencies in data. The solution to this is IAP implementation which regularly identifies and merges duplicate contacts.

Audit and traceability

Maintaining an audit trail and traceability of data changes is critical for compliance and data governance. In a Marketo Salesforce integration, data changes can occur in either system, making it essential to track changes across both platforms. A solution to this challenge is to implement a comprehensive data governance framework that includes change tracking and audit trails.

Process automation and event triggers

Process automation and event triggers are essential for ensuring timely and accurate data synchronization between Marketo and Salesforce. For example, when a lead is created in Marketo, an event trigger can be used to automatically create a contact record in Salesforce. A solution to this challenge is to define a set of rules and triggers that automate the data synchronization process.

Lead routing

Lead routing determines how leads are distributed to sales reps for follow-up. By automating distribution using business rules-based triggers you can ensure leads are assigned to the right sales rep according to predefined criteria.

Custom lead scoring

Custom lead scoring is a powerful tool that allows businesses to assign a score to each lead based on their likelihood to convert into a paying customer. The score is typically calculated based on a set of predefined criteria, such as demographic information, behavior on the company's website, engagement with email campaigns, and communication sentiment. Marketo captures information on leads' behavior and engagement with marketing campaigns, while Salesforce provides data on the leads' demographic information and engagement with sales reps. By customizing the lead scoring process based on triggers, businesses can calculate a more accurate lead score and improve their lead prioritization.

Marketo Workspace integration with Salesforce

Marketo Workspaces allow businesses to organize their data and campaigns into separate workspaces. Integrating Marketo Workspaces with Salesforce can be challenging, as it requires defining the relationships between different workspaces and objects. A solution to this challenge is to apply business rules to different objects to sync between the systems to ensure data consistency.

Multiple Marketo to Salesforce relationships

In some cases, a business may have multiple Marketo instances that need to be integrated with Salesforce. A solution to this is process automation by the IAP that accounts for multiple Marketo instances and ensures data consistency across all systems.

Advanced data transformations

If you need to transform data in a complex way before syncing it between Marketo and Salesforce including data segmentation, cleansing, or enrichment.

Bi-directional integration

Data can flow between the two systems in both directions, allowing for seamless synchronization of data across all touchpoints. This means that any records updates made in one system are automatically reflected in the other, ensuring that both teams have access to the most up-to-date information at all times.

Integrated Reporting and Analytics

Finally, integrated reporting and analytics are essential for gaining insights into the lead lifecycle in order to identify blockages or opportunities. The IAP implements a reporting and analytics framework that integrates data from both systems and provides actionable insights such as full touch attribution, predictive analytics, customer lifetime value (CLV), and householding.

See this short demo video on how to set up custom Marketo and Salesforce integration using the Intelligent Automation Platform or talk to us if you would like to learn more.

More Salesforce Marketo integration resources

Marketo Salesforce integration

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Information on the Marketo Salesforce integration offering.  

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Details about Marketo Salesforce integration.  

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Elsa Petterson

Elsa Petterson
Partner success manager @ Put It Forward

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