Insights Marketo and Microsoft Dynamics CRM – Integration and Sync Tips

Marketo and Microsoft Dynamics CRM – Integration and Sync Tips

This blog has been written to help anyone who has connected, or who is looking to connect, Marketo to Microsoft Dynamics CRM. If that’s you, this is your practical guide.

In the Customer Relations Management (CRM) world, all the hype is firmly focused on Salesforce (SFDC). SFDC is the poster boy with all the press and Microsoft Dynamics CRM is often forgotten about. However, even though it might not get a lot of attention, Dynamics is used by many organisations and is quietly and humbly working hard in the background.

As a result, Dynamics cannot be discounted from the MarTech mix, and when using Marketo with Dynamics there are several considerations which need to be considered. The below list includes a few of the most important ones.

Marketo Sync Authentication

In previous versions, and some existing versions of the Marketo to Dynamics Sync Connector, the connection to Dynamics from Marketo is made with a user account, called the Marketo User throughout this blog. This method means the Marketo User is effectively logging into Dynamics and retrieving the data to pull back to Marketo (in simple terms).

However, there are two things which will make this user-based connection method fail.

  • Multi-factor Authentication (MFA). If your organisation uses MFA when a user logs in to their Windows Account, this will prevent Marketo from connecting to Dynamics. Marketo is not a human user and as such cannot complete the MFA process. This means that the Marketo User needs to be exempt from requiring MFA completely on the Windows Account access requirements. There are many ways this can be achieved depending on the IT setup in use.
  • Automatic password expiry. It is usual for organisations to set a password expiry cut-off for Windows Account passwords, normally a default of 90 days. As a result, this can impact the Marketo User. As the Marketo User cannot be instructed to reset their password, the password will expire. This will cut off the ability for Marketo to log in and connect to Dynamics. This prevents data from passing between systems and cuts the sync connection. This needs to be noted and the Marketo User’s password must be reset manually by an authorised person to prevent it from expiring.

However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel with this issue. In the January 2022 release, Marketo updated the authentication method for the Dynamics connector to allow a Server-to-Server (S2S) OAuth (Open Authorisation) authentication method to be used. This allows the sync connection to be made using an App Registration with Azure Active Directory, and it authenticates with a Client ID and Client Secret instead of a Marketo User.

Initial sync and bulk duplicate creation

This situation occurs if Marketo has been in use before it is connected to Dynamics. If the Marketo instance is a completely new instance without any people in the database, this is not relevant.

There can be a situation where there are people in the Marketo database and the same people are also in the Dynamics database i.e., there are duplicate records in both systems. When the sync connector is turned on between the systems, Dynamics will create a duplicate record in Marketo for each of those people. This is less than ideal when you need a neat and tidy marketing database.

A data clean-up needs to be performed to mitigate this situation. Any of the potential duplicates from either system must be deleted prior to the sync being activated to prevent duplicates from being created. This is where it can get a bit political! The Marketo database is typically owned by Marketing. The Dynamics database is typically owned by Sales. A nice, calm, and polite conversation needs to be had between both teams to decide which of the potential duplicates can be deleted from Marketo and which can be deleted from Dynamics.

Once this deletion process has been completed, there is likely still going to be a set of potential duplicates which will be created as both records need to be kept in both systems. This is a simple fix though. Turn on the sync connector and let the duplicates be created. Then ask Marketo Professional Services for their help with an Auto Merge. They have a smooth and straightforward set of tools and techniques which can merge all duplicates in the Marketo database after the sync is activated to get things back to a single-person view of all data.

Creating New Data Fields

When new data fields need to be created and connected between Marketo and Dynamics, the data field needs to be created in Dynamics first and then ticked on the sync connector configuration screen in Marketo. This will then create the new field in Marketo and connect it to Dynamics to allow data to be passed between systems.

If you create the data field in Marketo as well, instead of letting Dynamics create the data field for you, a duplicate field will be created when the data field is ticked on the sync connector configuration screen in Marketo.

Now, there might be situations where there is already a data field in Marketo with a data value, an existing data field. But this field needs to be connected to, and visible in Dynamics. For example, the Lifecycle Stage. A Lifecycle Stage data field will need to be created in Dynamics and connected to Marketo. This will create a duplicate field in Marketo as well as the existing data field. There will be two Lifecycle Stage data fields, one connected to Dynamics, and one standalone in Marketo.

For any data fields affected by this scenario, Marketo Support or Professional Services are able to resolve this. They can change the field mapping in the backend to point the new Dynamics field to the existing Marketo data field. This ensures any data values are restored in the existing field, and that any data is also passed to, and visible in Dynamics.

Qualifying Leads in Dynamics

The default Qualify function for Leads in Dynamics is not great for duplicate management in Marketo. Put simply, every time a Lead is Qualified into a Contact in Dynamics, it creates a duplicate record for that Person in Marketo.

This is because in Dynamics when a Lead is qualified, they are marked as Qualified in the Status and then become a Read Only record. A new Contact is created, attached to an Account, and associated with an Opportunity. The Lead is then linked to the Contact as the Originating Lead. This is all very logical for Dynamics and does make a lot of sense when living in Dynamics only.

It is not useful when it comes to Marketo though. This results in having the Lead version of the Person and the new Contact version of the Person in the database. With either or both being sent emails, entering Smart Campaigns, cumulating tracking history etc. And even worse, having different data values on each, potentially even with conflicting consent or preference information too.

There are many strategies which can be employed to prevent this situation once the issue is known. The Originating Lead can be suppressed in Marketo and prevented from being an active record when it is Qualified. Leads can immediately be converted into Contacts in Dynamics on creation. The chosen strategy depends on the requirements but just knowing the problem exists is essential!

Customerid Data Field and Opportunities

There is a data field in Dynamics called Potential Customer (customerid). This is a crucial data field to be aware of. It is the source of Opportunity data for Marketo and if Dynamics doesn’t populate it with a correct value, no Opportunity data will be linked to people in the Marketo database. And no Opportunity data means no pipeline reporting. A world without pipeline reporting for marketers is a bleak world indeed.

The customerid field must be populated with either the Contact value or Account value. This field isn’t visible on the Opportunity form in Dynamics though and the data population into the field is not setup as standard. A data flow must be created to pass the value from either the Contact or Account data field to the Opportunity data field.

Marketo recognises that value in the customerid field on the Opportunity and uses it to link the Opportunity to the person in Marketo, in turn making the Opportunity data available in standard Analytics Reporting and Revenue Explorer.

This all sounds quite scary!

We get it, just these 5 pointers covered in this blog sound quite scary. And there are quite a few more little things to be aware of when it comes to the Marketo and Dynamics connected environment. All is not lost though, the team at WoolfHodson have been through the blood, sweat and tears already so you don’t have to. We have successfully connected Marketo to Dynamics to leave a fully functioning and pain-free integrated system.

Ash Chandler is a Technical Lead at WoolfHodson. You can learn more about him here. If you need help with your Marketo to Dynamics system setup, or if you would like to find out more about how our team can enhance your marketing performance, contact us today at

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