The Most Common Sync Errors and How to Troubleshoot Them / Marketo and SFDC

Generated by Midjourney AI

Combining the CRM system with a MAP significantly elevates its performance. It is key to delivering customer experiences generating actual revenue. Marketo and Salesforce are popular tools that allow for campaign execution, lead management and customer information maintenance. Their seamless integration flow is crucial for keeping all the records up to date. Thorough understanding of this automated process is essential for its more efficient optimization. If your organization struggles with sync delays, outdated or overwritten data, take a look at some of the best practices provided below. In order to make your experience more seamless we interviewed an expert in this field about the most common sync errors that occur between Marketo and SFDC and how to troubleshoot them. 

How does the Marketo and SFDC sync work?

The sync between Marketo and Salesforce is based on a built-out API integration. The communication is bidirectional when it comes to leads, contacts and Salesforce campaigns. It means that all changes are visible in both systems. Other syncs, like Accounts, Users (SFDC Lead/Account Owner), Opportunities, Custom Objects or SFDC Activity (Event or Task)  are only deployed from Salesforce to Marketo. New records in Marketo are sent to SFDC only if you explicitly request it via Smart Campaigns or Program-Campaign Sync. 

Marketo downloads all of the new and updated Salesforce records that have been created or changed since the latest sync based on the Last Modified Date Time. When you update data in Marketo, the system is also updating them in the existing Salesforce record. Syncs take place every 5-7 minutes; the approximate sync speed amounts to 10-20k records per object per hour. It is crucial to keep in mind the fact that changes introduced after the sync had already started will have to wait for the next round.  

Most of the time, it’s unnoticeable – if the process works correctly. The problem occurs e.g. when your sales team awaits the hot new leads that you just deployed to your SFDC and the Marketo system still hasn’t received them. Or when it only got some of them. If that happens, that’s the time to take a closer look at what causes sync errors and how to handle them.

How to identify why a record won’t sync with SFDC?

The reasons behind it may vary but they are often related to the custom rules set-up. But how does one even identify the error type?  

First of all, I recommend opening the Marketo Admin panel and checking all the sync errors in the Salesforce area. This module presents everything grouped together. That’s probably the best way to start troubleshooting and begin the process of improving integration which will help you prevent problems in the future.  

The error type information gives you a detailed description of what went wrong. There you can find information about the date of failure, error type and more. Possible scenarios are countless, it all depends on many different error types. What might help? In the details section you can also find the information on what address the error refers to. The best way to identify the error is to go through the activity log and manually check the source of the sync problem. Experience shows that a good first guess is checking for missing or invalid data from the submission form.  

Errors listed in Marketo Admin range from the current time to five days prior to the current sync, so it is essential to verify that every now and then.

What are the main reasons behind records not syncing correctly to SFDC and how to troubleshoot them?

As I’ve mentioned, in most cases our team dealt with, the sync errors were caused by the Custom Rules set-up on the CRM side which controls the data accuracy. The reason can be simple, for example, if a person is from the US, the state field needs to be properly filled out. If something is missing in the submission form or the data are invalid, the sync can’t be processed. That’s why keeping a clean database helps.  

We may also encounter other cases of the custom logic that prevents proper synchronization. An example that comes to mind is a situation in which our client’s system couldn’t sync Contact Objects to SFDC. After an in-depth analysis done by the CRM team it turned out that a custom logic check takes place if the Contact field in Salesforce is filled with ship-to-address data information, and if it’s not – the synching process in Marketo is put on hold. What had to happen first was an update of the ship-to-address data in SFDC and only then Marketo was able to update and sync to CRM correctly. 

The custom logic set-up on CRM is much more complex. Moreover, it has further exceptions making it impossible to cover them all. But these examples show that sometimes less means more – ‘over-engineering’ the process may cause some major synch issues. 

How does the Marketo’s queue affect synchronization?

When talking about sync errors between Marketo and Salesforce, we can’t forget about the Marketo’s queue. If you would like to quickly sync a large amount of data and add them to a particular SFDC Campaign, it may take some time before the records become available. Sometimes it can even take days! It is so because Marketo has its own queue – and sometimes there are many other personal details that need to be synched first. The synchronization order is as follows: Lead, Account, Contact, User, Task, Opportunity, Opportunity Contact Role, Campaign, Campaign Member and lastly Campaign Member Status. What’s more, only a limited amount of data can be processed at the same time. It is also worth noting that synchronization is a process that takes place in intervals.  

You can also prioritize the process yourself. High priority campaigns run in the order they were added to the queue. However, if you are running numerous Marketo campaigns simultaneously, the ongoing updates can make your sync slower. This delay prevents your Salesforce instance from enabling additional events based on campaign status.

How much data can we migrate at once?

Certain Marketo Nation sources suggest that the sync cycle between Marketo and SFDC runs at about 10 000 record updates per hour. We need to remember that some object types have different batch sizes so we can only assume what the speed of syncing will be. The simple scheme (without additional objects) looks like this: 

  1. If you have 20 000 lead and contact updates to pull, Marketo will handle 10 000 lead updates first.
  2. Then 10 000 contact updates will be run.  
  3. Next Marketo will return to the remaining 10 000 lead updates.  
  4. And finish with the final 10 000 contact updates. 

We also need to keep in mind that updates will only appear if there is no backlog on other aforementioned objects. 

You mentioned the importance of keeping a clean database – what are the best practices to do so?

The first thing is to standardize data input fields. People tend to make mistakes when it comes to filling out submission forms. The risk of misspellings and entering incorrect information is very high. To avoid that, minimize the space for human errors in your forms or other data sources. 

It is good to be aware of the fact that maintaining a clean database is a never-ending challenge. That’s why specifying a regular cleaning schedule is a very good idea. The frequency depends on your regimen, but personally, I think once a year sounds like the bare minimum.


  • Kacper Gawlik

    As a Marketing Automation Specialist, I enjoy working in a Marketing Operations environment and supporting clients to overcome challenges and scale their marketing success. When I'm not playing drums with the band, I enjoy hiking, running, and traveling.

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