Marketo-Salesforce Integrations: Troubleshooting Your Instance

Salesforce and Marketo: 3 Key Areas for Successful Integration

Written by Whitni Freeman

January 10, 2019

In this blog series, we’ve covered integrating your Salesforce and Marketo instances, setting up your integration so that the Marketo and Salesforce platforms work beautifully together and optimizing your Salesforce-Marketo integration so that it runs at peak performance.

In a perfect world, nothing would ever go wrong. Your system would function exactly as you want it to without ever breaking down. The fact is, error messages do happen.

So, let’s talk about troubleshooting your Marketo-Salesforce integration.

State/Country Picklists

One of the most common errors we have seen happens when you enable state and country picklists on the Salesforce side and start getting sync errors because you haven’t cleaned your data on the Marketo side.

State and country picklists are a cool functionality in Salesforce. They allow a Salesforce administrator to say, “These are the countries in exact values I want to accept, and these are the state values for specific countries that I want to accept.”

Let’s say, for example, that you decide to use two-letter abbreviations for states in the United States (Georgia becomes GA). In Marketo, if your data comes from a form where you captured the full state name, it will break the sync because “Georgia” is not the exact picklist value of “GA.”

Similarly, if in Marketo on your forms or in your list that you’re loading, you’re capturing states for other countries (for example, states for Brazil, Canada, Norway or Germany) and your Salesforce isn’t set up to accept states for those countries, that value coming from Marketo into Salesforce will not be an acceptable value, and it will break the sync.

You can fix this error by doing two things. First, work with your Salesforce administrator to make sure you have the list of values they’re using for states and countries. You want to make sure you know which countries they’re accepting states for and what those values look like.

Second, you’ll want to update your database

We recommend a 3-step approach.

  1. Make sure all forms are configured with picklists for state and country and that the picklists are storing the values that Salesforce is expecting.
  2. Clean your database! Pull a list of everyone that has a state and/or country and make sure the values match the list from your Salesforce administrator. When you come across a mismatch, you want to go ahead and make the data align, even if that means removing data. For example, if Salesforce doesn’t want Brazilian states, you’ll need to remove them to make sure the sync is maintained. As you do this, it’s a great time to look for other common issues. A great example is the United States – abbreviations vs. full name. Make notes of anything you see as you clean it up.
  3. Set up some automation rules. Setting up some smart campaigns that allow you to continue to clean your data as it comes into your database will make it easier to maintain your lists. For example, if you’re going to get a list from someone and you know they’re going to give you abbreviations but you need full names, go ahead and have it convert.

Keep an eye on this error. Check in on anyone who continues to get a sync error and investigate why the error is occurring. Sometimes, restricted picklist values do not allow for extra spaces, so including an additional space will break the sync. Going forward, you’ll want to make sure that everything is aligned.

The dreaded bad picklist error

Now, all of the above also applies to problems with other picklists as well. Say, for example, you have picklists in Salesforce for things like job title, industry or favorite color – it could be any field. If you have a picklist and your Salesforce administrator has made it a restricted picklist (meaning only the values defined in Salesforce are acceptable), you could experience sync errors.

Anywhere you have a picklist in place, you want to make sure that Marketo is standardizing the data into the format that is acceptable by Salesforce. Again, this is probably the second biggest issue that we see – Marketo (marketing) doesn’t know the picklist values that Salesforce has defined for a given field. If we are not passing along the right data, the sync is going to continue to break.

Other sync errors

Occasionally, you will get an error that tells you the value isn’t right even though the value looks right. Sometimes this error will happen if the Salesforce administrator puts restricted values into place at a later time (after they created the field). And sometimes the only way to fix it is to clear out the values and rewrite it.

This error doesn’t happen often, but we do see it happen when there’s been a change to the field. Typically, what you’ll find is that the data is not an exact match. There’s something that’s making it look different from what Salesforce is expecting.

Specific error messages

Take note of specific error messages. Most often what is happening is a custom validation rule for custom Apex in Salesforce has been broken. Whatever you’re trying to do from the Marketo side isn’t honoring that rule or isn’t accomplishing what is expected to be accomplished. Validation rules are a great example of this.

For example, let’s say you have a reason field that should be populated when someone gets disqualified and you have a validation rule to require it. If you’re trying to disqualify people from Marketo, and you’re not also populating that reason field, it’s going to break the sync because that validation rule is going to fire. You’ll see this in the activity log.  Until you satisfy the validation rule criteria, your sync will keep breaking!

Troubleshooting new profiles and sharing hierarchy

If your Salesforce team ever does work on profiles or your sharing hierarchy that affects Marketo, it could impact your sync. For example, if they suddenly take away access from Marketo, or they change Marketo’s place in a sharing hierarchy, it could affect how Marketo can interact with the people that it saw before the change occurred.

Make sure you and your Salesforce administrator are communicating closely so that you know the changes are happening and you can watch for those changes in Marketo.

How to investigate a sync error

Here are the steps we recommend you take to investigate a sync error:

  1. Ask for examples
    It’s important to look at the examples that aren’t syncing. Don’t try to clean them up or change them. That would defeat the purpose of discovering why they’re not syncing.
  2. Look at the activity log
    Find out what activity was occurring right before the sync error. Is this a new lead? Someone already in the database? Did they fill out a form? Did you load a new list?
  3. Look at the sync error itself
    Salesforce will usually give a reason for the sync error. It’s up to us to decipher it.
  4. Dig into the details
    Once you’ve gathered information from the previous steps, you can look at the fields and values you think might be causing the problem.

Integrating Marketo and Salesforce is not a “once and done” action. It’s an ongoing project. We hope we’ve been able to give you some insight into making your Salesforce-Marketo integration successful!

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