Platforms, Technology

How a B2B SaaS Company Leveraged Personalized Content in Marketo to Drive MQLs

Learn how MERGE helped a SaaS company advance its marketing operations by leveraging personalized content in a Marketo engagement program.

BY: Lindsay Fay

PUBLISHED: 1/13/2022



For those who love to read the end of the book first, we have a couple of takeaways to share:


  • Be proactive when optimizing Marketo engagement programs
  • The more personalized the content, the greater volume of high-quality MQLs
  • Data visualization opens up a world of possibilities
  • Always test localization of content when running global marketing campaigns


These outcomes are a result of our work with a top SaaS client, focused on improving business communications.

Our client is unlike any other B2B SaaS company looking to attract and convert new clients using Marketo to create customer lifecycle campaigns.


This client fearlessly charged ahead as they developed early versions of an engagement program. Taking that first step to build an architecture around a complex engagement program in Marketo can be a challenge, and oftentimes, the first attempt isn’t built according to best practices.

That’s when MERGE stepped in to help them advance their marketing operations maturity with a dynamic, engagement program. From here, we tested into an even more successful version of the engagement nurture program and incorporated advanced reporting that would challenge our thinking and lead to optimizations that ultimately elevated results across the board.


When we first reviewed our client’s Marketo instance, we found their nurture campaigns pieced together through the use of several default programs and smart campaigns. They were functional, but not built according to best practices.

The client’s marketing operations and customer lifecycle lead, who is well-versed in Marketo, worked with a highly-engaged enterprise sales team looking for some serious results. Our contact had a vision for an enterprise-level Marketo engagement program, and MERGE jumped in to create a multi-stream engagement program that would lead prospects in their buyer journey from awareness to intent with dynamic content based on functional roles.


The Challenge

The first engagement program we built together met the goals of our client, and after one year, it also met expectations for generating a sales pipeline, resulting in two opportunities valued at $250K per month. Our client continued to act fearlessly while we continued to push the limits by testing new approaches to the engagement nurture program; testing several different iterations along the way.

The new approach for the engagement program consisted of delivering targeted content based on product interest. This is when a hypothesis was developed – instead of personalizing content based on job function, what would happen if content was tailored to product-specific interests? Would this level of personalization drive better results?

The Solution

To create an engagement program with four areas of interest, each interest area having its own stream of content, we created an awareness stream with content across each product interest area. When the recipient engaged with a specific product interest, the user then self-identifies their primary product interest and receives content tailored to that interest moving forward.

Since we had already developed the foundational program architecture in Marketo, our team focused on fine-tuning the new version of the engagement program with new content and transition rules that would usher users along their customer journey.

The solution focused on three key areas:

  • Testing: In our experience, we have seen many Marketo users create a robust engagement program for customer lead lifecycle and once they do, they forget about optimizing it. Instead of “setting it and forgetting it,” we developed a program that had the agility required to test and learn.
  • Personalization: The hypothesis for the new engagement program was that personalization based on product interest would drive more success than personalization based on job function
  • Data Visualization: A key tenet of this program was creating advanced reports that would empower the team to identify trends and make adjustments to the engagement program


The tuned-up architecture for the engagement program included the following:

  • Awareness: This nurture stream contained articles that covered all interest areas, in addition to a survey at the bottom that allowed the recipient to self-identify their interest area. Once a recipient engages with an interest area or self-identifies as interested via the survey, the recipients are transitioned to the next stream.
  • Consideration: Now that the user’s product interest is known, they’ll receive content targeted to their identified product interest


From here, we built a Google Data Studio (GDS) report to display the number of MQLs, engagement trends, and stream membership, for example.

The GDS report allowed our team to analyze trends and spikes in behavior, and also insight into email open and click rates. Most importantly, the GDS report revealed data that we acted upon.

For example, when reduced engagement was identified, an auto-responder email was added into the program when the recipient self-identified their product interest, resulting in overall increased engagement.

The other action taken from reviewing data visualizations was to move forward with creating localized versions of the emails. Although the engagement program was only in English, the content had global engagement. As a result, the open rate increased a few points for the localized versions; which also proved early on to have a 75 percent MQL to opportunity conversion rate.

The Results

Email engagement increased dramatically across all streams; all of which are well above industry standard engagement rates, with email open rates as high as 40 percent and click-through rates as high as 9 percent.

The average email open rate is 21.33 percent and 2.62 percent for click rate. Source.

An unintended result of the new engagement program was a better understanding of prospects’ product interests; of course to aid in the personalized messaging and ultimately drive revenue.

As far as revenue goes, the client has experienced a large volume of MQLs of which they have converted nearly 2 percent of those to opportunities. By comparison, the new engagement program generated 10x the number of opportunities than the original engagement program we developed.

Looking to the future, it will be key to continue ensuring the MQLs are meeting sales acceptance criteria and improving the MQL to opportunity conversion rate.

Final Takeaway

Alas, the end of the book and our key takeaways from this project:

  • Be proactive when optimizing Marketo engagement programs
  • The more personalized the content, the greater volume of high-quality MQLs
  • Data visualization opens up a world of possibilities
  • Always test localization of content when running global marketing campaigns


If our client hadn’t pushed the limits to test a new engagement program and visualized performance data, they would have never known about the lost potential.


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