3 Ways to Maximize Your Marketo Investment

A Marketo investment isn't exactly a small line item. That said, are you getting the most out of it? Increase your ROI by focusing on these 3 items.

BY: Hilary German

PUBLISHED: 6/16/2020

“For some companies, marketing automation can end up like a Ferrari that’s stuck in the garage.” - Trip Kucera

Organizations now have access to tools that deliver personalized, targeted messaging in real-time thanks to the impressive technology solutions of the current MarTech landscape. However, despite the demonstrated power of personalization, not to mention the sizable Marketo investment, only a reported 2% of B2B marketers are actually using it to its full capacity.

Almost 70% of marketers say improved targeting of messages is the most important benefit of marketing automation. Yet, knowing that most B2B marketers with Marketo don’t utilize this tool to the best of its capabilities effectively handicaps its ability to really deliver these targeted results.

There’s a lot that can happen between the Marketo investment, implementation, and actually seeing true impact or ROI. Most will agree, Marketo is so much more than just sending batched email campaigns, though too many organizations never make it past the initial send and basic reporting stages. Ask yourself:

How granular are you actually getting with your messaging?

Are you utilizing segmentation or an automated nurture program?

How are you determining and collecting the right data to gain a deeper understanding of your customer to better inform the direction of your programs?

How are you using your data to inform your future campaigns?

Your answers to these questions can help to illuminate areas that have opportunity for growth, which is the first step in plotting a roadmap toward better platform usage.

Marketing Automation Maturity Model

#1: Set a Foundation With Strategy

Advanced marketing automation maturity doesn't happen without the foundation of a clear strategy. If you’re looking to increase your program maturity and fully leverage the power Marketo has to offer, the steps leading to these goals need to be clearly communicated at this fundamental point in the process.

It’s important to emphasize that strategy is not just figuring out what you want to do - it’s also allocating the appropriate resources for the job. Where many organizations hit stumbling blocks is failing to understand and budget the time and resources needed to keep a program running well. Success and maturity with Marketo will come down to your ability to outline a tangible strategy, and then appropriately organize your team around your most important initiatives.

Define Program Goals for Business and Data

The translation from a high-level objective to the technical side of structuring a new program can render a substantial gap in understanding across a team. To build a strategy that will take the maturity of your program to the next level, you’ll need to identify top goals in a way that speaks to both the executives in your organization, as well as to those who will carry out the day-to-day tasks in the platform. Think of it like this: if your sales colleague says, “I just need more MQLs”, it’s best to break it down to clearly understand what their definition of an MQL is, as this will help inform the way you choose to build, measure, and score a program.

To do this, my mentor Carey Picklesimer taught me that you always need to have two definitions. First, you need to have the business definition of the metric, which is your high-level takeaway. Then, you’ll need to translate that into the Marketo data definition. Breaking goals down this way keeps everyone aligned, and provides an easy reference should updates need to be made.

Data Audit

Of course, it’s all about sending the right message at the right time. To accomplish this, you’ll need to have enough of the right data.

The highest level of marketing automation maturity is when you’re using your data to create a completely personalized experience for your target customer. Yet, in order to use Marketo (or any marketing automation) to its full capacity, your program will rely on data cleanliness. How confident are you that you have the correct values in your fields? Do you have a duplicate probable? If you’re finding that you have bad data in general, you’ll need to implement a clean-up strategy or program to address that before beginning any type of program build– and be sure to factor that into your project timeline.

#2: Understand the Stages of Nurturing

After you’ve established a strategy and sound data, a natural next step to increase your program maturity is to go deeper into your nurturing process. Start small, and build. Are you confident with the time zone of the people you’re emailing and their location? Can you start personalizing your messages by sending messages at an appropriate time for their time zone and by including location-specific information?

It’s important to understand that nurturing does not stand alone– it considers all other activities that a person has had within your database, and this is where your depth of nurturing can really vary. Are your contacts receiving ad hoc email sends, event sends, webinar invites, as well as nurturing sends? What should be prioritized among these?

Oftentimes, getting the right message out is also about what message not to send. Potentially having wait steps between other messages that are getting sent to them in different campaigns can help you get deeper into this process as well.

#3: Seek Out the Right Talent

Taking that next step in marketing automation maturity also depends on your level of Marketo talent. Keep in mind that even after programs are set up by experts, you’ll still need knowledgeable people to keep the programs running, healthy, and operating to their full potential. Your Marketo investment should also include an investment in the right people.

This doesn’t necessarily come down to having the most senior people, but rather those with depth of expertise in specific areas. Many organizations make the mistake of diving headfirst into the guise of more mature programs, only to come up short on driving real results because of a fundamental lack of personnel in both bandwidth and expertise to provide continuous work within the program.

You’ll also need to be sure to have a Marketo point person who can act as your champion to oversee program wellness and help keep important initiatives on track. This person can help keep the ship on track when things get bumpy. And again, as you continue to implement more advanced measures within Marketo, you’ll need to ensure that this person has the acumen to compliment these enhanced measures, or be prepared to seek out external expertise to enable these deeper programs.

Remember, as you’re looking for ways to advance in levels within your marketing automation maturity and get more out of your Marketo investment, it’s important to return to your foundation of strategy first and foremost, using your overarching goals to inform your decisions and budgeting required to take on more advanced programs. When this is combined with the right expertise, the potential for deepening your use in a platform like Marketo multiples exponentially.


Does your organization need help achieving ROI from Marketo? Learn how the Marketo experts at MERGE can help. Contact us today!

Originally published on and authored by Hilary German.