What’s Holding Back Your Marketo Value Realization?

BY: Sarah Frazier

PUBLISHED: 2/11/2021

According to the 2020 Marketing Technology Survey by Gartner, marketers are only using 58% of their MarTech stack capabilities. Often, the focus is placed on execution, when more emphasis on training, talent, and system integration is needed. I’m preaching to the choir, but of course, technology doesn’t deliver business value all by itself; it requires qualified, trained marketers to effectively operate and leverage it.

Take Marketo, for example. It’s not uncommon that an organization implements Marketo with big intentions, then visions of greatness are quickly replaced by reality— Marketo is not as intuitive as you thought— you need a Marketo specialist.

Or, another scenario— you’ve had Marketo for years, but even with a seasoned marketing operations staff, you’re still not accomplishing all that you had hoped. Add in pressure from the C-Suite to demonstrate ROI, and you have stress in the making.

So what happened?

While all organizations seek to maximize the full value of their marketing automation investment, they often fall short. The gaps typically occur in understanding the individual stages of value realization and missteps in their ROI journey. Let’s dive deeper into both.

Defining Value Realization


Technically speaking, “value realization” is defined as a journey involving a continuum of stages and processes delivered in such a way the expected outcome (or value) is achieved. Or more simply stated, the Marketo Value Realization Cycle is a comprehensive approach to what you want to achieve, how you will get there, implementing your plan, measuring your results, and optimizing your outcome.

There are five stages in the Marketo value realization cycle, each stage impacting the others:

  • STAGE 1 Exploration: outlining your vision and defining your desired outcome
  • STAGE 2 Definition: scoping the project and assessing the resources needed to be successful
  • STAGE 3 Activation: executing on the project plan
  • STAGE 4 Transformation: empowering employees
  • STAGE 5 Optimization: analyzing and actioning the results


Marketo Value Realization


The Marketo Value Realization Cycle also works much like a flywheel— each stage supports and pushes the next one until more momentum is gained. In the beginning, a flywheel can be challenging to put into motion, requiring considerable energy to push it forward. But with focused and consistent effort, the flywheel begins to spin on its own. The faster the flywheel spins, the greater the momentum, and with momentum comes value realization.

Unfortunately, many organizations never attain flywheel momentum. As a result, a project stalls in the early stages of the cycle, and the organization never reaches the more advanced stages, settling for average outcomes, unaware of the possibilities.

Common Missteps in Advancing the Value Realization Cycle


Friction, or anything that causes the flywheel cycle to slow or advance as intended, is the largest reason marketing operations projects lose momentum.

Common friction items include:


Unclear strategy or business objectives. It’s hard to gain forward movement when the team isn’t sure of the direction. Communicating your vision, the desired outcomes, and sharing your project strategy will help your team understand the requirements and timelines, setting your value realization flywheel in motion.


Misalignment with stakeholders. Once you’ve outlined your plan, seek input from other stakeholders, including sales and executive management. Changing direction mid-project kills flywheel progress and results in project delays, not to mention potentially redoing work. It’s best to gather feedback and gain alignment early on— and document your decisions.


Staff resistance. It’s human nature to be cautious of change. Most employee resistance stems from a lack of understanding about why change is needed, connectedness to a previous way of doing things, not being consulted about the changes–particularly if their jobs are impacted, poor project communication, or seldomly voiced— a concern about the new skills that will be required of them. A good change management plan will address each of these objections and will incorporate specific steps to build staff trust and confidence. Employees can be a powerful driving force to your flywheel momentum, so make sure you are including their needs in your plan.


Insufficient resources. Resources can be anything from time to financial to human to the expertise needed to achieve your desired outcome successfully. Assess your team’s skills (and gaps)— is your project feasible with the resources at hand, or do you need to supplement your team by hiring a Marketo agency? Discovering you have insufficient resources in the middle of your project will bring your flywheel to a screeching halt.


Lack of user adoption. Many organizations build great Marketo programs only to watch them fail as the team doesn’t know how to use them. Incorporating training time into your change management plan will improve your user adoption success rate and add momentum to your flywheel. Additionally, watching the transformation of your staff embrace new technologies, incorporate better processes, and improve their skills can be exciting!


Inability to measure progress. Checking a task off a list or hitting a target metric is satisfying— and adds motion to your project. As such, be sure to document the current state of your operations before kicking off your project, map out the milestones you want to hit along the way, and identify your goal metrics post-implementation. Comparing outcomes to benchmark metrics not only builds energy but also highlights opportunities for improvement.


Attaining Value Realization


As you advance in your Marketo usage, It’s not uncommon that your definition of “value” may change. The Value Realization Cycle, however, continues to spin— the stages remain constant.


This Value Realization model is a series of processes designed to guide you to a successful outcome and ultimately help you get the most of your Marketo investment. With each new process, technology integration, or MOPS project, the cycle starts over, until eventually, you are achieving new levels of “value” with Marketo, leveraging Marketo to advance your organization’s marketing and gain a competitive advantage.

This post is the first in a series about the Marketo Value Realization Cycle. In upcoming posts, we’ll be covering how to accelerate the cycle to achieve higher quality outcomes faster. In the meantime, we invite you to download our free Value Realization Framework, which details the essential steps for each stage of the cycle plus includes a slick dashboard to measure your progress.


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