Marketo is often considered the default choice to pair with Salesforce (SFDC) for companies seeking to scale their marketing automation programs. Marketo describes success stories where clients have grown their email open rates and click-through rates by 50-80% in a 12-month period. In Figure 1, G2 describes Marketo as having an assertive market presence versus competitors while fitting within the middle of niche and high-performing marketing automation software. For B2B and B2C companies, there are often good reasons to choose Marketo over SFDC eco-system competitors such as Pardot and Salesforce Marketing Cloud. Marketo strikes a balance between the overtly B2B feature set of Pardot and the expressly B2C mass marketing bias of the Salesforce Marketing Cloud. Marketo does this by offering a complex feature set of traditional bulk and personalized segmented email campaigns. Additionally, it offers social media integrations, ad platform integrations, advanced lifecycle tracking and ROI reporting, attribution modelling, and a highly customizable declarative database to tackle even the most unique business cases.

Figure 1: G2 Grid for Marketing Automation Software 

With all this said, one of the most decisive factors in making a purchase decision for Marketo is the proposed “seamless integration with SFDC.” If you are already familiar with this “seamless integration,” you also know why we have encased that phrase in the quotation marks of irony. Despite the promises of seamless integration with SFDC, in practice, most of our clients encounter some growing pains in getting their data to flow smoothly between the two systems. Unfortunately, this realization typically becomes apparent during a crisis situation in which lead creation has either been halted, radically diminished, or otherwise &%@!ed up by some mysterious ghost in the Marketo to SFDC machine, all of which is complicated by the fact that it will not be immediately obvious which of these problems are the source of your headache. 

If this is something you are currently encountering, here are the two common Marketo to Salesforce sync errors lowering your lead counts:

  1. Conflicting Smart List logic within the Marketo and SFDC sync.
  2. Marketo Workflows create conflicts with SFDC field rules, processes, or API configuration.

Problem 1: Conflicting Smart List Logic Within the Marketo and SFDC Sync

If you’re experiencing Marketo to Salesforce sync errors, the first thing to audit is the logic of the Smart Campaign(s) responsible for sending leads over to SFDC. It’s important to remember that by default, new leads created in Marketo via web form, social media campaign, ad platform, etc., will not simply sync to SFDC via the API connector found in the Admin settings area. This connector’s job is to automatically update leads/contacts/accounts/opportunities that are ALREADY synced. In other words, Marketo is, for better or worse, giving you the option to decide what new leads will sync to SFDC, and under what circumstances. Most companies create one or more Smart Campaign(s) (i.e. a Smart List to select the trigger event and criteria for WHICH new leads will sync, a Flow to determine HOW they will sync, and a Schedule to determine WHEN they will sync). 

In the simplest terms, it’s extremely easy for even experienced Marketo administrators to shoot themselves in the foot when constructing or editing one of these Smart Campaigns that sync Marketo leads to SFDC. 

Solution: clone your existing SFDC sync Smart Campaign, create a filter that will accept test emails only (e.g. ma****************@gm***.com) and simplify the sync logic to progressively eliminate potential sync logic errors.

One of the most common (and thankfully) easiest solutions to an impeded Marketo to SFDC sync is to create a much simpler version of your existing sync. The object of the exercise is to test if a recent change to your Smart List logic, Flow logic, or possibly the available data on the Person records themselves is responsible for causing a breakdown. 

Marketo Partner

For Example, one common issue is a basic conflict between the AND/OR inclusion criteria allowed for by the Smart List logic. By default, a Smart List assumes that all the criteria you enter are necessary to send leads over (i.e. criteria 1 AND criteria 2 AND criteria 3, by default). In simplifying your new test Smart List, it’s worth reducing the number of criteria one by one to test if one in particular or two in combination are creating a problem or whether you need to add some OR logic to include multiple, mutually exclusive criteria. Basically, you are just trying to prove that you CAN send a lead from Marketo to SFDC, while trying to figure out which of the criteria may have been preventing that. Once you get a lead to successfully sync to SFDC, you can then take a deeper look at the last Smart List criteria or Flow logic you eliminated to deduce why that particular logic may have been causing the problem. 

The second most common problem is that Flow logic has become too complex or refers to assignment rules in SFDC that are no longer current or have broken. We often meet with clients who are new in their positions and have inherited a Marketo instance set up long before they arrived. As marketing and sales teams churn over the years, the oral history of the Marketo to SFDC sync often gets lost in time. In practice, this may mean that a new SFDC administrator may make changes on the SFDC process side which are incompatible with the sync logic setup in Marketo; or vice versa. In short, we advise troubleshooting assignment issues in your sync Flows with your SFDC admin to ensure that the assignment logic also makes sense and is current. 

To sum up, by cloning your existing sync Smart Campaign and allowing it only to accept test emails, you are giving yourself the ability to progressively simplify the logic of your Smart Lists and Flows, as well as check their actions against current SFDC logic in order to discover if the root problem lies within the sync logic itself. If you start to see successful test emails in SFDC according to the simplified logic, then you are likely on the right track to discovering what changes your live Smart Campaign needs. 

Problem 2: Marketo Workflows Create Conflicts With SFDC Field Rules, Processes, Or API Configuration

Supposing the syncing errors don’t lie within your Smart Campaign sync logic, the other strong possibility is that errors are occuring within the API sync with SFDC. To confirm this possibility, navigate to Admin>Integrations>Salesforce>Sync Errors (Figure 2 below). If you find the sync error screen blank, as shown in Figure 2, you can rule out API errors as the culprit. However, like many of our clients, if you find the sync error log brimming with a wide variety of error codes, then you will need to take some time to investigate the error codes. After investigation, you may discover the cause of your Marketo to Salesforce sync errors lie within the three common API errors below. 

Figure 2: Marketo Sync Error Screen

Marketo to Salesforce Sync Errors

Field Integrity Exception

This usually has to do with an incompatibility between the data found in the Marketo field and the data that the corresponding Salesforce field can accept. In simpler terms, this is the discrepancy between field information relating to the same topic. i.e. web form state field being filled with either CA or California – while SFDC only accepts CA as an applicable field entry.


If you see the duplicate error, you may want to consider checking your SFDC duplicate rules to ensure they aren’t too strict and the intended action is taken against the duplicate records. Duplicate records occur in cases where the same person fills multiple web forms with different prospects’ information (phone, email, etc.). Alternatively, there is also a strong possibility that a lead may have previously contacted your company directly by phone, and was added into SFDC directly prior to filling out a webform. If this phone lead has the same phone number as the Marketo duplicate, but different email address or no email address, Marketo may fail to merge the two records together. If you notice a lot of duplicates, you should take advantage of the manual merge rules found in the database section. Otherwise, reach out to your respective Marketo Account Manager.

Cannot Insert Update

This relates to a variety of failures caused by separate automation originating from SFDC. The specific location of the error is noted at the end of the error code.

If you find yourself completely overwhelmed by the sheer number of error codes (which is a real thing) and are lost thinking about how to start resolving issues. We suggest expanding your date filter in the sync error log to allow for the widest date range possible (usually 2 weeks of data) and then exporting the data into a CSV. Open the CSV up in excel, and create a basic pivot table or summary table, exemplified in Figure 3 below, that provides a count of the same type of error codes so that you can at least get a grip on how to prioritize what problems to tackle first.

Figure 3: SFDC Sync Error Pivot Table Pie Chart

SFDC Pie Chart

By first categorizing the sync errors by type and volume, you can move on to forensically auditing specific person records with each sync error to uncover their origin. For example, suppose you’ve constructed a Marketo web form that allows the lead to enter their State/Province or Country as a single-line text field rather than via a preset drop-down list. In that case, a large number of web form entries will likely get rejected by SFDC, which requires that State/Province and Country field values conform to the preset values found in SFDC picklists.  

RFDM Solutions “Loves” Solving Marketo to Salesforce Sync Errors

Do we? I think it’s more that we love the satisfaction we feel after we solve them and get our clients back on track. Also, we’re pretty darn good at it. Thanks for reading our article, and good luck! 

Marketo and Salesforce can work great together once you get past the issues with your sync errors. Marketing automation should be helping your lead counts, not underrepresenting them. We hope these two common Marketo to Salesforce sync errors, conflicting smart list logic and conflicts with SFDC field rules, processes, or API configuration are easily solvable by your team in the backend. However, if you find yourself really struggling, and would like a second set of eyes on your Marketo to Salesforce sync, please feel free to reach out for a free consultation. We love helping out and solving problems (seriously this time) for Marketo users and look forward to hearing from you!

Read Our Case Study: HubSpot to Saleforce and Marketo Migration

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