The secret to more ROI: unengaged person records

James T Fletcher
CEO, Principal Consultant


In this post, I’ll show you how to drive more ROI from your existing Marketo Engage database. Because there is a tonne of opportunity hidden inside your database by looking at unengaged person records.

It’s important to remember that Marketo Engage operates on a person-based licence fee, meaning the more records you have, potentially the higher your licence fee. That is why JTF Marketing offers a managed service for data hygiene & quality ensuring you don’t have to worry about hitting your licence limit, nor what data is good or bad!

Defining unengaged person records

First let’s start with a definition of what unengaged person records means in Marketo Engage:

📖 Unengaged person records are leads/contacts previously generated that exist in the database and have not taken any action within a specific time period.

Now this definition doesn’t necessarily mean you haven’t sent anything to this specific individual, but it does mean they’ve not engaged for whatever reason.

We determine ‘unengaged’ by the fact we haven’t seen any web activity, any opens/clicks of emails, or even any form activity. You can also go as far as saying even no sales activity within the connected CRM.

When it comes to the time period, this is completely customizable to your organisation. As Marketo Engage experts we recommend looking at 90 days, 180 days, and 180+ days. This helps us see if you are focused purely on new contacts instead of engaging the existing database.

How to identify unengaged records in Marketo Engage

So how can we identify such unengaged records? We should start with some global smart lists. Why? Because you will want to use it as an inclusion/exclusion smart list in some campaigns.

In the screenshot above you’ll see some example filters on our smart list such as:

  • Not Visited Web Page
    • Web Page: is any
    • Date of Activity: in past; 90 days
  • Not Filled Out Form
    • Form Name: is any
    • Date of Activity: in past; 90 days
  • Not Filled Out LinkedIn Lead Gen Form
    • Lead Gen Form Name: is any
    • Date of Activity: in past; 90 days
  • Not Opened Email
    • Email: is any
    • Date of Activity: in past; 90 days
  • Not Activity was Logged
    • Subject: is any
    • Date of Activity: in past; 90 days

Whilst this list is not exhaustive, it does give some good insight into marketing generated activity versus that on CRM i.e. Activity Logged. This is important if you’re using sales automation tools that log activity or calls against a person records.

Smart List Rule Logic

It is worth noting here in the example we’ve also used ALL which is a strict filter criteria, you may choose to group certain activities such as marketing activities or sales activities.

Of course it is highly recommended you review a sample of unengaged records to make sure your conditions and rule sets are correct!


In the example we’ve used a 90 day time period, but you may want to use a broader time period – in some cases you may even want to use filters that show they haven’t been sent anything to identify anyone who is not in your lead nurturing campaigns.

Verify & enrich unengaged records

Often unengaged records are considered ‘aging’ records, therefore it’s important before taking any action ensure the record has the latest information.

Depending on the tools you have available we recommend two things:

  • Verify email addresses with email validation tools: this will ensure you have a valid record before you try and send any additional campaigns to the person records. This is a critical step for those who haven’t had any content in some time.
  • Enrich the person record via third party tools: it is important that we have the latest record about the individual to ensure the correct personalization, and importantly avoid unwanted complaints. Often we find that a number of individuals have moved company, or moved to a new role and therefore are no longer interested in our services.

Clean, valid data will be the make or break of your marketing campaigns – it’s doubly important when it comes to re-engagement.

Any invalid contacts, left company contacts, and even unmatchable contacts should either be deleted or removed from Marketo Engage at a minimum to reduce licence count. This will help manage a quality database.

Develop an engagement campaign with personalized content

Now it’s time for the re-engagement part – we’ve identified our records, we’ve cleaned them up, we’ve validated them… now to engage.

If the records have already been getting content the first thing you want to do is exclude them from ALL other campaigns. This allows you to focus in on your re-engagement communications which are going to have a clear cut content approach.

If the records have been totally inactive and not been sent anything from your organization then you will need to ‘warm up’ the records before going in for the kill.

A few killer tips for your re-engagement campaign:

  • Develop it as an engagement program to ensure this turns into an always-on cycle, not a once in a while task!
  • Keep the content simple, to the point with a single action to re-engage. This can be a content download, behavioural engagement etc.
  • Work on a 3 strikes (3 content pieces) and you’re out (of the database). If they haven’t engaged it may be a lost cause and therefore focus in on the engaged contacts in your database.
  • Expand to multi-channel like SMS or maximising Marketo Engage’s Adbridge to serve up relevant ads.
  • Make sure to use valuable content from day one as best aligned to that persona, industry, etc. as possible.
  • Playing with friendly content like “it’s been a while” to maximise your brand personality!


At JTF Marketing, we understand that managing your Marketo Engage database can be challenging, especially when dealing with unengaged person records. These records can increase your license fees without contributing to your ROI. Our managed services for data hygiene and quality ensure that you can focus on maximizing your database’s potential without worrying about exceeding your license limits or sifting through poor-quality data.

Ready to transform your marketing automation strategy and unlock the full potential of your Marketo Engage database?

Get in touch with us for a free mini-data audit, and personalized tips on how to boost engagement!

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Our team of experts is here to help you drive more ROI by identifying, verifying, and re-engaging those hidden opportunities within your database.