From a purely technical and procedural standpoint connecting instances of Marketo and Dynamics CRM (DCRM) is straightforward, you follow Marketo’s perfectly acceptable documentation and install the solution in your DCRM instance, create the Marketo Sync user, select your fields to sync, and connect the two platforms. This is not to say that there isn’t some nuance to these steps, but this initial connection process isn’t the focus of this post and we found this process isn’t that challenging. One quick note, the username in the sync credentials in Marketo IS case sensitive.
The sync process however has some very systemic and strategic challenges when connecting the two platforms and when sending Leads to DCRM from Marketo. This is especially the case when in a B to B business environment with preexisting Contacts that are continually marketed to.
Where the two systems are very different, is when it comes to the specific definition of a Lead and the fundamental differences in the Marketo One to One type Lead entity vs. the DCRM Many to One type Lead entity. For this article we will use the terminology of M-Lead for Marketo Leads and D-Lead for Dynamics Leads.
What do we mean by One to One vs Many to One Lead entities?
Marketo’s One to One Lead entity implies that One Contact (Person) with One Email Address = One Lead with Marketo Activities continually recorded to that Lead. When a Person engages with Marketo campaigns and programs the details of those interactions are captured on that single Lead record.
DCRM on the other hand has a Many to One lead system. Many Leads can connect to One Contact (Person) with One Email Address. When a new Marketo Lead or a preexisting DCRM Contact interacts with different Marketo campaigns and programs, and that M-Lead progresses through the lead lifecycle and is labeled a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) then synced to DRCM the details of those interactions, SHOULD come over as NEW leads that can then be qualified to a new or existing DCRM Contact.
It is important to note that Synced Marketo Leads are continually connected to their DCRM entities by their M-Lead ID and until they are intentionally disconnected, by toggling the Sync to Marketo field to NO, or by DCRM disqualification (this will require an entire additional blog post for explanation), they will stay connected so that when Synced M-Lead fields are updated, their corresponding fields in DCRM will be updated as well.
Real world example.
A new Person, Todd Todderson (firstname.lastname@example.org), registers for a webinar through a Marketo Form, and is created as a new M-Lead with an ID of 3456. Todd’s webinar registration is recorded to the lead record in Marketo. Todd then attends this webinar and his attendance is recorded to the lead record in Marketo. As defined in both the Scoring Model and the Lead Lifecycle, this webinar attendance is a Marketing Qualified event and Todd’s M-Lead is synced to DCRM.
Coming from Marketo, a new D-Lead, Todd Todderson (email@example.com), with a Topic of “New Lead from Marketo” is created in DCRM with a M-Lead ID 3456. This new Lead is then qualified by inside sales and a new Contact, Account and Opportunity is created in DCRM.
Where it starts to get complicated.
Todd Todderson (firstname.lastname@example.org), a known M-Lead ID 3456, registers for, and attends, a live event. These 2 activities are recorded to Todd’s M-Lead ID 3456. As defined in both the Scoring Model and the Lead Lifecycle, this event attendance is also a Marketing Qualified event and Todd’s M-Lead is synced to DCRM. Marketo throws an ERROR because Lead ID 3456 already exists in DCRM.
As of Spring 2017 there was no Marketo native solution for this issue. The simplified version of our solution is as follows. In Marketo we created a synced Custom Lead Field, on the Contact Entity called Marketo Create New Lead. When the MQL threshold is met for a Lead, new OR preexisting, that field is toggled to True. On the qualified and synced Contact record, when the Marketo Create New Lead = True, a DCRM workflow creates a new D-Lead with the required Lead information cloned that is connected to the DCRM Contact.
This solution, in and of itself does not solve all the problems caused by the fundamental differences in the One to One vs. Many to One. There are issues with Source Campaigns and ultimate attribution of Marketo Programs/Campaigns to Closed Won Opportunities, there are issues with DCRM disqualification and disconnection from DCRM Disqualified Leads and Active Marketing Leads, there are even other problems with Qualifying to pre-existing Contacts.
This is not to say these challenges are not surmountable, it simply means that a dual Marketo and DCRM development team must be prepared to develop some custom solutions and understanding the fundamental differences in entities roles and capabilities really empowers the development team to create viable solutions.