Get Your Names Straight – Best Practice Naming Conventions for Marketing Automation

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KidCakeDollarphotoclub_26405178-200pxA poor marketing naming convention strategy is kind of like an 7-year old trying to make a cake–eventually things are going to get messy. This might be fun in the confines of your kitchen but messiness has no place in marketing automation. Naming inconsistencies reduce reporting effectiveness, cause marketing inefficiencies and reduce marketing automaton power.

For example, did Joe name last year’s annual event “Joe’s Texas Event 2013” while Karen named this year’s “Trade show-Dec-Dallas?” This kind of naming will drive marketers nuts when it comes time for analysis.

Forget about analysis for second. What about trying to find these marketing activities in the marketing automation platform? Was it named “trade show”or “event?” Is the event in a month letter format (Oct) or month digit format (10). Lastly, marketers lose flexibility to trigger different activities based on the name.

A few inconsistent examples:

  • Event_Oct_2014_Europe
  • Trade show, November 1, 2014
  • Gus’s tradeshow-Speaking 2014-10
  • Tradeshow NYC, 2014
  • Minn Executive Conference, 10/1/2014

Why is Naming Important?

I’ll get to the actual naming convention strategy later in the article but here are a few reasons to consider adopting a consistent naming process.

1) Get Better Reporting Insights

Consistent program names make analysis and comparison easier. For the spreadsheet whizzes, consistent naming enables advanced filtering to gain custom insights.

BEFORE: Example without a strong naming convention

Comparing events and website assets is very difficult as marketing activities are blended together. Add in PPC, sponsorship and other channels and analysis can quickly get out of hand.



AFTER: Example with a naming convention

You can easily distinguish between marketing activities and compare results. Answer questions like:

  • How did our events perform vs our website assets?
  • Which website assets are being downloaded most?

Answering these questions with the previous model will give you a headache when you are trying to compare hundreds of programs.


2) Streamline Management within Marketo and Other MAPs

No need to get frustrated trying to figure out if the program is called “Tradeshow” or Trade Show.” Use the naming convention to cut down management time by easily finding and sorting assets.


3) Build More Powerful Programs

When names are standardized, marketers gain the flexibility to build more powerful global programs by leveraging the consistent naming. A few trigger examples:

  • If a lead clicks a link with a program starting with “NUR-Early,” then transition the lead to the mid-stage nurturing track.
  • If a lead reaches success in a program that includes “-WP,” also add the lead to the Whitepaper Asset program.
  • If a lead’s Last Lead Source contains “-Trial,” boost the lead’s score by +75 points.



Get Your Names Right – The Conventions

The below convention is one of several you can adopt within your organization for program level naming. These conventions enable organizations to quickly search for similar assets, programs, etc. while allowing for users to sort programs chronologically. You may also want to adopt a complementary naming approach for Lead Source, Content Asset and other reportable items.

The Program Convention………….

[message type=”simple”][Abbreviated Program Type]-[4-digit Year]-[2-digit Month]-[2-digit date]-[Program Description]-[Location or Content Type][/message]

Optional for larger organization is to add the program manager’s initials at the the end. You can also add other items like target audience if applicable.


A webinar in October on the The ABCs of Marketing

Best Practices Whitepaper published on the website on Oct 23, 2014. Note that the day of month is not included as that level of granularity is probably not needed for a content asset. Of course, if you want it, add it in.

Roadshow in Dallas in December 2014

Here are three approaches to online advertising. This is a case study on Nurturing Success that is promoted via the Tech Target Online Advertising channel in December. If you advertise on a quarterly basis, you could elect to change the month format (10) to a quarterly format (Q4). If you go this route, ensure all OA programs leverage this naming.

Advanced. Are we tracking Content or Sources? Whew, this a question that deserves its own post. The third option involves giving two programs successes–the Tech Target program and a separate Case Study content program. This approach lets you track Source and Content separately while also reducing the number of programs (One generic Tech Target program vs many for every asset offered via Tech Target). I’ve seen numerous approaches work here and it all depends on your organization’s reporting needs. Integration with a Lead Source Management system is also key.

There is a lot to debate in this advanced model so make sure to check Josh Hill’s recent article that covers some of those those issues.

So what’s up with the dashes?

Dashes are optional but I like to use them in conventions. Why? The first reason is consistency for lead source URL parameters (For future scalability with a lead source project). When these values are used as part of URL parameters that feed Lead Source data into the system, a dash or underscore is needed (blank spaces in links can sometimes wreak havoc). The second reason is searchability. It’s a easier (and more accurate) to type “CS-” and find all your case studies. A pure “CS” search would pull up other asses like “The ABCs of Marketing.”

Why the funky date format?

Get your brain thinking a little differently. Americans like to use the 12-22-2014  format while Europeans like to use the 22-12-2014 format. So why use this 2014-12-22 format? One word–sorting. By using the 2014-12-22 format, all of your programs will automatically put themselves in chronological order with no extra work by you.

Don’t Let Your Names Avalanche out of Control

To summarize, make sure to chose a naming convention that meets your organization’s goals. The biggest piece of advice I can give—be consistent.


Other Resources From the Marketo Community

Special shout outs to Kyle McKay (@OpFocusKM), Josh Hill  (@jdavidhill), Elliott Lowe (@elliottlowe), Stanislas Berteloot (@berteloot), Adam Waterson (@AdamInBloom),  Michelle Tiziani (@MichelleTiziani), Michelle M and others  who have provided a ton of tips on this subject within the Marketo community (login required).





Josh Verrill

Services: Strategy, Assessment, Ongoing Services

“RevEngine Marketing has helped Dyn reach amazing results. Within 60 days, REM helped Dyn establish repeatable best practices to improve marketing efficiencies over 50%. That enabled our business owners to focus on the business, not on our system.
With REM as our long term partner, we’ve seen marketing’s contribution revenue double over the past year. REM has helped us achieve success with everything from managing the lead lifecycle to gaining visibility into marketing effectiveness.”


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