The Importance of Database Hygiene in Generating High-Quality Data

The Importance of Database Hygiene in Generating High-Quality Data
  • By Olympia Bhatt,
    Published on: Mar 23, 2023
  • Updated on: Apr 05, 2023
  • Marketo

According to a 2011 Gartner study, the quality of your data is proportional to labor productivity. The study found as much as 20% of labor productivity decreases when the data quality is poor. Whether you are using a Marketo Database or a similar product available, its constant maintenance is key to the successful execution of your marketing strategy.

For example, if you do not merge duplicate leads, you might send multiple emails to the same lead or offer a discount to existing customers when it was for prospects. Maintaining database hygiene ensures you minimize such mistakes.

Read on as we discuss database health and some best practices to maintain it.

Consequences of Poor Database Hygiene

The lack of database hygiene impacts any marketing automation strategy, especially when you develop it on top of poorly maintained records. As a consequence, you may notice a flawed execution every time.


Effective delivery of emails is crucial in the long term, and poor deliverability can have serious consequences. Maintaining a clean database decreases the likelihood of sending emails that harm your domain reputation and email IP. If your domain reputation is poor, there is a higher chance of your emails ending up in spam folders, undermining the effectiveness of your email marketing efforts.


From a financial standpoint, inadequate database hygiene makes it harder to handle excessive data. Marketo Engage provides licenses with limits on the size of each instance's record database. If the size exceeds the limit, Adobe will notify the account owner, who must either decrease the size of their database or license a larger one.

Maintaining a well-organized database will help quickly identify and remove unnecessary records, thus reducing costs. More proactive database management will automate record removal processes, slowing down the database's growth rate in real-time.


Lastly, at a more individual and strategic level, substandard database hygiene results in incorrect data. Organized databases ensure that records remain current. Marketing teams devote significant effort to deciding who to target for their campaigns. Realizing that the target audience or trend differs from what it seemed due to incorrect data leads to frustration. This frustration may escalate to blaming others, which is never a pleasant experience.

Auditing Your Marketo Database

Step One

The first step is to document and compare how well your products/business units and marketing team integrate with your current workspace-person partition implementation (if one exists). Sometimes, there have been Marketo instances with numerous workspaces and person partitions that their team struggled to manage due to poor governance and centralized processes. This lack of control, as a result, leads to significant database issues, to the point where the marketing team lost track of the appropriate partition to which an individual should belong.

Step Two

Verify if there are partition assignment rules/campaigns and record the current routing strategy in place if there is one. Directing individuals using the smart campaign is more efficient as a general guideline. Additionally, have default workspace access to all person partitions for the execution of smart lists (SLs), reports, and the creation of global operational campaigns/setups for all individuals within the default workspace.

Step Three

It is crucial to examine the system’s SLs within each partition of the database and record the number of individuals in each list. Review these SLs before developing your check-up SL reports for a more detailed database audit.

Some of the SLs you can create while auditing the Marketo database are:

  • People with Email Address/Company/First Name/Country empty - ensure its critical/demographic field completeness.
  • The number of Lead, Contact, and Marketo-only records.
  • Test/internal records (the ones that end with, etc.).
  • SLs to recognize if any records should have been in a different person partition than their current one.
  • Lead performance report to foresee DB growth from varied sources over a week, month, quarter, and year .
  • Tracks updates of API calls/third-party integrations. API calls/integrations gone rogue is one of the last things you want for your Marketo database.
  • Check for any field value mismatches causing the CRM sync error(s)/data inconsistencies.
  • Inspect active versus inactive people in the past 30/60/90 days and then check for Active versus inactive marketable people over the same time.

Based on your inferences from the above SLs and reports, create a list of irrelevant leads that you can delete. These can be:

  • Inactive non-marketable people - before deleting the inactive people consider running a reactivation campaign
  • Invalid records
  • People with empty/invalid email addresses
  • Competitor records
  • Test records

After this round of Marketo database cleaning, check for any operational setups created to keep the data accurate. These include:

  • Data Normalization Campaigns
  • Data Management Campaigns
  • Database cleanup/purge Campaigns

Identify how accurate and well-built the existing setup is in keeping the database accurate. Are there any gaps worth optimizing? Or does the setup require a complete re-implement from scratch?

Cleaning Your Marketo Database

So how do you implement the principles of data cleanliness inside Marketo?

Assuming you

  • have a standard Marketo system,
  • have a typical Lead-Contact-Account Salesforce setup,
  • have all records synced between systems,

and are not using purposeful duplicates, you can take the following steps to keep a healthy and clean database.

Step One: Determine the leads that need fixing

Determine the leads that are potential problems. Examine the series of SLs to determine the health of your database every month.

Once the SLs are up and working, examine your database health in no more than 15 minutes per month. This, in turn, is a great way to demonstrate the ROI of your work and Marketo.

Also, create a table to gauge the total impact on your database by looking for fields important to your business. Break down each group by Marketo Only, SFDC Leads, and SFDC Contacts.

Step Two: Use Automation to Correct Data Values

Poor data quality today is the quickest way to ruin your reputation faster than misdirected email. Any mistake can go viral in minutes, so email reputation, choice of language, and customer experience matter more than anything else. The best way to avoid such errors is through automated data cleansing.

How do you do that?

Set up data management flows in your Marketo database. Most firms set up similar flows:

  • Country Corrector
  • State Corrector or Mapper – often helpful if you have Country and Inferred State.
  • Count of Employees to Employee Range.
  • Bad Lead Source to Good Lead Source
  • Email Invalid to Email is Good if the Email changed.
  • Translate old field values to a new field.

Step Three: Data Appending Tools

When you fill-up empty fields in your database, you segment your database better. Leads often do not always have complete information like the right Industry, or Function or even Title on a form. Other times, you inherit legacy data from an older system.

As a result, these gaps in your data mean you have to send that email to fewer people or possibly the wrong people. Fix these issues through data appending tools.

There are three ways you can do it.

Option 1: Fill it in yourself.

One way of completing the Leads information is by interpolating data to backfill empty fields. You may have a SIC code instead of the Industry name or Annual Revenue vs. Annual Revenue Range. You can easily automate these fixes in Marketo.

Option 2: Locate a data appending/enrichment vendor

Several vendors in Launchpoint, such as NetProspex and ReachForce, can help enrich your lead data. Some of these vendors may request a data sheet from you, which they will clean and send back. However, you can opt for a better option: to use an automated tool in Marketo or Salesforce that checks the fields you want and provides the relevant data. Most vendors accomplish this using the Marketo API or Webhooks.

Option 3: Use Marketo APIs to update leads

Using the Marketo APIs, you can identify leads requiring cleansing and update them through the API. To retrieve data from Marketo that matches specific criteria, a good place to begin is with the Get Multiple Leads by Filter Type REST API. To update leads, refer to the Create/Update Leads REST API.

Another option is establishing a Marketo Webhook that informs an external system when a particular event, such as a form fill-out, occurs. Following this, you can respond with values to update the lead.

Step Four: What to automate or not automate


Ensure that you automate the collection and blacklisting of your competitors to maintain a competitive edge. Even if you have competitor partners, it is still advisable to label them appropriately and include them in a list that may require suppression.

Automating the flow for multiple hard bounces is highly recommended. If a lead hard-bounces more than twice in 30 days, set its status to Suspended or Invalid. Subsequently, review it monthly to determine if the issue was a typo or something else.

For multiple soft bounces within 30 days, set your marketing status to TRUE for 30 days.

If your product necessitates using potential spam trap addresses, it is essential to exercise caution while suspending or deleting them.  So, it's advisable to review a list of spam traps beforehand.

To Not Automate:

Automating the deletion of leads is not recommended, as there is a high risk of accidentally mass deleting the wrong records. Instead, review leads marked as Trash once a month. However, if you do want to delete trashed leads, it is best to run a flow with a 30-day wait like this.

Step Five: Things to keep in mind

Utilizing automation can be an effective method to save time and maintain a clean database. However, exercise caution while setting it up, as a small error can cause chaos within minutes. Proceed carefully through these processes and keep all stakeholders informed.

In general, refrain from deleting SFDC Contacts as they may have a link to active opportunities, clients, or ex-clients. Certain records may need retention by Finance or Legal and contacts linked to those records. Instead, the focus should be on contacts that Hard Bounce, become Invalid, or are No Longer There.

Final Thoughts

The success of automation for your marketing strategy relies on the good health of your database. Keeping it updated and closing all the informational gaps is the first step to good database hygiene. If you are struggling with your Marketo database and how to maintain it well, Growth Natives can help you out. Write to us at or call us at our toll free number +1 855-693-4769 to learn more about the importance and process of database hygiene.


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Olympia Bhatt

Olympia Bhatt wears many hats, marketing and content writing being one of them. She believes a good brief writes itself like an AI tool.

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