Marketo Nurture Marketing Mechanics 101

BY: Michelle Miles | Chief Client Strategy Officer at MERGE

PUBLISHED: 12/1/2020

Did you know, 96% of your website visitors aren’t ready to buy?

An effective nurture marketing program develops a relationship with buyers at every stage of the sales funnel. Yet, time and time again, I see companies spending hours creating beautiful, targeted nurture content, only to fail in leveraging Marketo’s capabilities to run and report on their nurture marketing investment. 

What are some of the mechanics of a well-built Marketo nurture marketing program and how can you improve the effectiveness of it? 

Create Default Programs Inside Your Nurture Stream


There are 3 main reasons we recommend creating default programs in your nurture stream instead of in individual emails:

  • Organization of related assets and flows: This is an easy way to organize related assets and Smart Campaigns, such as landing pages, forms, and auto-response emails, alerts for your sales team, progression status flows, QA, plus allows you to better leverage tokens.
  • Additional reporting details: Why give up a host of reporting available for programs, particularly multi-touch attribution reporting visibility, and the ability to associate period costs and tags with individual programs?
  • More control over membership: You may have content appropriate to most, but not all of the leads in your nurture marketing program. Individual Smart Lists allow you to customize and send to a subgroup of your nurture program or send different emails to these subgroups. You can also more efficiently manage assets promoted through multiple channels with exclusions.


Manage Nurture Suppressions with Program Exclusions


Marketo engagement programs automatically skip content a lead has already received. If a lead has a program status in a default program already, the nurture content will be skipped. Therefore, you can create a central Smart Campaign in each child program to automatically suppress anyone who has received content through another channel outside of the nurture program.

To do so, first, you’ll want to edit your channel in the Admin Tags section, creating a status value of ‘exclusion.’ Then you’ll create two Smart Campaigns to populate this status. One will be a batch update for all past activities, the other a corresponding trigger campaign. The Smart List pulls in leads that have consumed the content.


Common ways of doing this are form fills, web visits, and changes in program statuses to the success status where this is already promoted. The flow step will change the program status to exclusion. Just remember to update your trigger campaign if you start promoting this via a new program, landing page, etc.


Leverage Nurture Marketing Program Reports


There are a handful of Smart Lists and reports I keep in my nurture program template to clone and use as local reports for every program.

Helpful Smart Lists include:


  • Members of the nurture program
  • Engaged/Success members of the nurture program
  • Members with MQL status
  • Members with an opportunity
  • Members who exhausted all content


Frequently used reports include:

  • A company web activity report filtered to members of the engagement program
  • An email link performance report
  • An engagement stream performance report detailing email stats
  • A landing page performance report detailing form conversions


My favorite nurture report is a people performance report, which is essentially a report detailing the lead funnel by company. To set this up, select a ‘people performance report’ type. Then in the Smart List, filter to members of the engagement program, and, if desired, target accounts. In the setup, group leads by company name.


Then, include the Engaged, MQL, and Opportunity Smart Lists above as custom columns, and show the desired opportunity columns. When finished, this report shows a mini funnel by company for all leads in the program. If you want to include additional stages in your lifecycle, simply create a Smart List and include it as another custom column.


Automate Nurture Marketing Criteria


By leveraging a Marketable Records segmentation, you can prevent junk data from entering the nurture program and programmatically remove leads that are no longer viable. Similarly, you can manage nurture content delivery through the use of segmentations.


For example, if you segment your leads by persona, you can trigger nurture membership and pause the cadence of delivery as leads move from segment to segment, ensuring leads are only getting the content best suited to them. Another option is to programmatically pause the cadence for leads who are in a particular lead lifecycle stage, such as contract negotiation, if the sales team wants to control all communications.

54% of marketers say increasing prospect engagement is their number one priority; developing an effective Marketo nurture marketing program will help accomplish that objective.

Have questions about building and leveraging nurture programs in Marketo? Contact us to learn how MERGE can help.