By Nicki Kamau

If your organization uses Salesforce, chances are you’ve seen Salesforce Lightning. The sleek user interface debuted in 2016. Administrators had four years to adapt—and Salesforce had four years to add functionality—before Salesforce turned on Lightning for all customers in January 2020.

In theory, Lightning is just a user interface redesign, albeit a feature-rich one. But changes under the hood meant plenty of work for administrators and partners like Marketo.

Here’s a brief history of Marketo’s compatibility with Salesforce Lightning.

Marketo and Salesforce Lightning Timeline at a Glance

  • August 2015: Salesforce announces Lightning, a cohesive new user interface across mobile and desktop.
  • October 2015: Marketo Sales Insights (MSI) is a Salesforce-based tool for sales reps. Marketo announces that MSI is now available in Lightning. The announcement comes with a caveat: Bulk action buttons for mass-emailing or mass-adding leads and contacts are not available.
  • May 2018: Marketo acquires sales automation tool ToutApp. The tool is first renamed Marketo Sales Engage, then Marketo Sales Connect (MSC). MSC can be used with or instead of MSI.
  • September 2018: Adobe acquires Marketo.
  • October 2018: Marketo announces that MSC is now Lightning compatible.
  • June 2019: In its Summer 2019 release, Salesforce addresses a JavaScript limitation in Lightning. This limitation was preventing Marketo from implementing bulk actions in MSI.
  • January 2020: Bulk actions are now available in Marketo Sales Insight!
Download Now: Marketo Migration Checklist

Marketo & Lightning: The Early Days

Many organizations piloted Salesforce Lightning slowly over time. For many organizations, testing Marketo compatibility was part of the process.

On Marketo’s Marketing Nation forum, a few users shared initial compatibility issues. “I am running a Lightning Pilot, and the Sales Insight feature for Marketo does not work well at all," shared one user. "Often, it errors out and will not allow the user to get any data regarding scores or website visits.” “When I click the MKTO tab in SFDC classic, it opens up fine," wrote another user. "But when I try to do this when in SFDC lightning, the page just keeps refreshing and refreshing and never loads.”

The solution? It turns out Marketo was integrating just fine. The fix was to download the most recent version of the package from the Salesforce AppExchange. Basically a SaaS version of the classic “turn it off and turn it back on again.”

Bulky Challenges

But as administrators moved from pilots to rollouts, it came to light that, although Marketo Sales Insights (MSI) was Lightning compatible, it didn't support bulk actions such as mass emailing up to 200 contacts or adding leads and contacts in bulk.

For many sales teams, these buttons were key. “The power of the email send function through MSI was absolutely in the bulk actions capabilities,” wrote user Chris_Wilcox.

Lightning did not support Marketo's bulk actions because the buttons relied on JavaScript. The Salesforce Classic interface supported JavaScript; the Lightning interface did not.

These limitations may not have seemed like a big deal at first, but they became more urgent as they began costing sales reps time. Now, to act on many records at once, sales reps needed to switch back from Lightning to Classic. “That's not the ideal situation,” wrote user Petyr_Campos. “Our users would prefer to stay within one UI.”

Even that strategy was not always possible. Some organizations hid Salesforce Classic from users as part of their Lightning transition. In Marketing Nation forums, power users traded workarounds. They shared attempts to hack buttons or embed Classic-style iframes in Lightning until Marketo could come up with a solution.

In July 2019, there was a glimmer of hope in the forum. User Chris_Wilcox noted that Salesforce had addressed its JavaScript limitation in Lightning. Marketo's bulk action buttons should now work.

In August, a Marketo representative wrote that bulk actions were now on the MSI roadmap for Q4 2019. They were also already available in another product, Marketo Sales Connect (MSC).

Finally, in January 2020, Marketo made bulk actions available in Marketo Sales Insights.
Learn how SmartBug generated a 6,800% increase in email marketing traffic using  Marketo and inbound marketing tactics.

What’s Next?

In general, MSI and MSC now work as well in Lightning as they did in Salesforce Classic. Besides bulk actions, another early challenge was the ability to customize where MSI data appeared in Lightning. This was first noted in 2017 but appeared resolved as of 2019. 

One final issue still outstanding has to do with URLs. Marketo creates auto-generated URLs using formatting in Classic. As of 2018, these URLs were still not accessible in Lightning. This issue is part of a much broader Salesforce wish list on Marketing Nation.

Marketo’s February 2020 release notes mention no further Salesforce Lightning next steps. Of course, Salesforce Lightning was just turned on for all customers. If anything else is needed, it will quickly become as clear as, well, lightning.


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Nicki Kamau

About the author

Nicki Kamau is a Senior Manager, Partner Programs, for SmartBug Media. With experience in inbound, social media and event marketing, Nicki has been a part of lead gen marketing teams within the B2B space at tech startups, mid-market organizations, and publicly traded corporations. Nicki strives to educate potential and current clients through content marketing, empowering them to make informed business decisions. She enjoys exploring the outdoors with her baby boy, dog and husband, right-brained activities, and tasting every tea she can get her hands on. Read more articles by Nicki Kamau.

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