It’s Not You, It’s Me: 3 Self-Inflicted Problems That Get Blamed On Marketo (and How to Fix Them)

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It’s Not You, It’s Me: 3 Self-Inflicted Problems That Get Blamed On Marketo (and How to Fix Them)

Now that I’ve been a Marketo power user since 2012 for more than a handful of companies, I can safely say I’ve noticed an easily fixable problem:

Marketo (and SFDC, as a result) tend to get blamed for issues that are self-inflicted.

What do I mean when I say that?

I mean that many times, I’ve found myself scrambling to fix something that’s not “wrong”, per se. The systems act according to the way they’ve been set up. In other words, there’s usually something wrong with the setup, not the software.

Here are the most common problems I’ve found that can be avoided by planning ahead and understanding your martech:

1) Marketo Isn’t Giving Me the Reports I Need

I kept the title of this particular issue vague on purpose because I see it pop up time and time again in reference to different data.

Marketo’s reporting can get almost ridiculously specific, even without purchasing any add-ons. The problem is it won’t just give you the data required for making responsible decisions out-of-the-box. While this can be a problem for the occasional marketer, it’s actually a really good thing. Why?

Because you get to define your success metrics.

And why wouldn’t you want to? Different programs require different desired actions (ex: a webinar’s success metric could be attendees, but it could also be registrants depending on your goal [thought leader vs. branding]), so why would you rate all conversions equally? You wouldn’t.

But defining your own success metrics requires forethought. Planning ahead adds extra time to the front of your campaign process, but it’s well worth it when your CEO comes to you at the end of a quarter asking for a report on “how marketing is doing” and you can actually present him/her with data.

The fix: Figure out what you want to report on before setting up your programs. If ROI determines success, for example, you’ll need to add a Period Cost so Marketo can divide your investments across pipeline. If conversions are the goal, you’ll need to define success and set up progression campaigns to move people through the funnel (if you need help, we deep-dive into this topic in our blog post, “Why Your Attribution Reporting is All Messed Up“). Otherwise, your Program reports won’t tell you much of anything other than you’re doing some stuff.

Here are three questions you can ask yourself to push the process along:

  1. What do I want people to do in this program? (This is how you’ll determine success – and yes, Marketo lets you change success at the program level so you aren’t restricted to what you’ve defined in your channel)
  2. Do I want to track ROI? (If so, you’ll need to ensure you’re adding all period costs to your program)
  3. What type of reports do I plan to provide my team to show activity and results? (Knowing how you want to report on your programs will help you set up your campaigns appropriately)

2) My Emails Aren’t Getting Delivered

This is another vague one with multiple solutions, but usually comes back to how good your data is.

Usually, the biggest culprit of bad data (and therefore deliverability) is list purchases. I’ve been in the marketing world for 12+ years and have only seen moderate success with one list purchase. Even then, it was purchased through a trade show we exhibited at, so we had that affinity – it wasn’t a cold campaign. Every single other time I was forced to purchase a list, the campaign was an abject failure and my CFO would get angry, threatening to take my budget away. If lead generation is your end-game with list purchases, don’t confuse quantity with quality. Then proceed to run in the other direction.

Another issue is mailability. This is something I cut off at the pass by creating a Marketable Smart List or Segment that gets added to all my campaigns. It allows me to pull a list of everyone I want to email, but suppresses anyone who can’t receive the message (ex: marketing suspended, unsubscribed, blacklisted, email invalid, etc). I also set up a view with all those fields so I can see which filter is suppressing each record – because believe me, someone will ask.

The Fix(es):

  1. Avoid purchasing lists (rentals can be fine because you’re typically asking recipients to input their own data via a landing page link)
  2. Build a Marketable Smart List or Segment for an accurate view of who can receive your emails:
      1. Email Address = IS NOT EMPTY
      2. Unsubscribed = FALSE
      3. Marketing Suspended = FALSE
      4. Email Invalid = FALSE
      5. Blacklisted = FALSE

    Note: Avoid the urge to add “Email Suspended = TRUE” because this checkbox is evergreen. In other words, if someone’s email is ever suspended, this checkbox will remain ticked for eternity, even though they are automatically unsuspended within 24 hours.

  3. Create a Marketable View so you can diagnose why people aren’t qualifying for your emails.
    1. In your Smart List, go to the “Leads” or “People” tab
    2. Click the “View” dropdown and select “Create View”:
    3. On the pop-up, name your view “Marketable” and select any fields you want to appear, including:
        1. Unsubscribed
        2. Marketing Suspended
        3. Email Invalid
        4. Blacklisted

    4. If you’ve set up bounce management campaigns (see below), you can also add those fields to the view to see if a hard bounce is causing the block
  4. Add bounce management campaigns to Marketo. There’s a really great post in Community about this already, so I’ll spare you the setup details, but I implement this for every instance I work in now. It’ll show you which email addresses hard bounce, when, and why. My only improvement on what’s already mentioned here is that I also use a trigger campaign to timestamp the bounce date and record the email subject line associated with the bounce. This has come in handy so many times, not only in diagnosing why emails aren’t going through, but also in removing records from the database when it’s time to clean house.

3) Sales Isn’t Getting the Insights it Needs

“Our sales team is using Marketo Sales Insight, but they don’t know who opened or clicked on their emails. How can they get a report?” is something I hear often.

For starters, even though sales is sending these emails, full reporting will only be available in Marketo, which is managed by the marketing team so they can plan their communications around what sales is doing (the last thing you need in marketing is email fatigue).

Sales can also access all their email sends in the “Marketo” tab that’s installed in SFDC, although it gets tricky if their manager wants to view any emails sent by his/her team (I recommend setting up Marketo report subscriptions for that, instead).

The bigger question here is: do they really need that information?

If they’ve sent someone an email and that person doesn’t reply, then the overall consensus should be a) they aren’t interested, or b) the content didn’t apply to them. When it comes to sales emails, all that really matters is the response – or lack thereof – to determine follow-up action.

The Fix: The fact of the matter is, sales is probably still going to want insight into how their emails are performing. From a team manager view, this does make sense in a few circumstances, so it’s not necessarily harmful. Just be prepared for your marketing team to start fielding questions ranging from “Why isn’t this lead receiving my emails?” to, “How do I attach a document?” (Spoiler: you can’t)

The way I do this is by creating an SFDC Campaign and Marketo Program specific to each initiative with its own MSI email template as an asset. I then set up the following Smart Campaigns:

  1. Sent: Changes status in program and SFDC campaign to “sent”
  2. Opened: Changes status in program and SFDC campaign to “opened”
  3. Clicked: Changes status in program and SFDC campaign to “clicked”

Here’s an example of what the “Opened” campaign looks like:

Program Setup:

“Opened” Smart List:

“Opened” Flow:

Now, you’ll be able to run campaign reports in SFDC for each MSI initiative. I’ve helped develop dashboards, as well, so the team leads can see who’s sending what emails, and when. There are a few quirks, like the send only registers once (in other words, if you send an email to a record multiple times, only the first send gets recorded), but that may not be important to your initiative.

In Summary

The most important thing to remember when it comes to Marketo (and most marketing stacks) is that you can set it up to do pretty much anything you want – but you have to tell the system to do it.

This requires planning ahead, which can (and does) take extra time, as well as fairly in-depth knowledge about how your systems work – both independently and together. But if you can’t track your activities, you might as well not have any.

Have you ever had someone blame your martech for wonky things? Give us your examples (and fixes) in the comments!

Jenn DiMaria
Jenn DiMaria
A Marketo Certified Expert and three-time Marketo Champion, Jenn has over 10 years of marketing experience and holds an MBA in Marketing from DeSales University. She comes to RevEngine from a national Director of Marketing role and looks forward to focusing on her talents for strategy and scalability. In her free time, she knits, reads, and co-hosts the bi-weekly #KREWECHATS podcast, where she and fellow champs discuss all things Marketo.

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