By Nicki Kamau

Marketo can do just about anything: 

  • Personalize emails? Check. 
  • Streamline complex campaigns? Check. 
  • Deliver a literal box of donuts? Check (more on that later)

This month, we asked Marketo’s 2020 Champion Class about their favorite features in Marketo. 

We were curious: Which tools drive their biggest wins? Which features would they recommend for users who are just getting started? And what do they nerd out about with other experts? Brooke Bartos, Corey Bayless, Julz James, Chelsea Kiko, Diederik Martens, Warren Stokes, Greg Ah Sue, Trent Cross, and Courtney Tobe all weighed in. 

They wrote odes to foundational features like Marketo’s cloning ability and folder structure. Tokens, snippets, and dynamic content were crowd favorites for their sheer workhorse utility. API and webhook wins offer inspiration for more advanced teams.


Here are the experts’ top Marketo features, in their own words.Cloning = Empowered Users

From Chelsea Kiko, Marketing Operations Manager at McGraw-Hill:

The biggest functionality win I get from Marketo is the cloning capability. I know it's a simple feature, but the way you can clone and what is brought over when cloning is a win for my team and organization. 

You can pre-build a Center of Excellence (CoE) and have other Marketo users clone from what you've built to keep the entire instance clean, consistent, and matching across the board, no matter what the user builds. 

It is also nice because users don’t need an expert to build all of the campaigns. Teach someone the CoE approach, and they quickly become a campaign ops machine.

From Warren Stokes, Marketing Technology Consultant, Kniva Ltd:

Mine is a little unexpected. My standout feature is having an entire marketing campaign all in one folder. Marketo’s structure makes it easy to reference things. An example would be, if I am deciding how to trigger off something, I can just flip up the email and look at my other filters and earlier campaigns at the same time. 

Other tools are organized differently. In some email builders, I have to go through multiple screens to launch or I have to join up touchpoints in a flow. Some people prefer that; I don't.

Marketo’s folder structure makes me feel in control and organized. I then find it easier to be creative with content and campaign setup.

Tokens = Huge Time-Savers

From Brooke Bartos, Senior Manager, Marketing Operations at Walker Sands Communications:

Tokens are, without a doubt, my favorite under-utilized feature in Marketo. In one instance, I was able to use program tokens to reduce the time it took to get an event program out the door from four hours down to about 45 minutes.

My highest-level folder will have a token for Copyright Year, because I know every program under that will use it and it allows me to quickly update the year on all assets. Below that, all of our webinars for a specific product line are sent from a certain onboarding specialist. The “From” and “Reply To” emails of all webinars in that folder are tokenized to be from that person.

Tokens on the program level are unique and specific to the program alone. Examples include webinar titles and dates, an event location, or a speaker bio.

Tokens = Easy, Reliable Personalization

From Courtney Tobe, Manager of Marketing Automation at AvidXchange, Inc:

Tokens are one of my favorite Marketo features because they are a game changer. The ability to tokenize an entire program not only improves operational efficiency, but it also eliminates room for error. Tokens also let you easily add personalized elements. 

My team wanted to send out a personalized ROI calculator to our high-value prospects, so I created tokens to pull the unique ROI calculations into each email so that each prospect would receive their own customized report. 

In one scenario, prospects fill out an ROI calculator form and we send them an automated ROI calculation email. In another scenario, we use progressive profiling on our Marketo forms to capture information over time. Our campaign managers can then calculate the projected ROI with our product, input it into Salesforce, and send the information through Marketo.

Email Script Tokens = Advanced Personalization

From Diederik Martens, Chief Marketing Technologist and Founder at Chapman Bright:

I love Marketo email script tokens. Research shows people expect you to be relevant now more than ever. Email script tokens allow you to leverage all kinds of related objects in your engagement (e.g., helpdesk tickets, projects, surveys, events, and more). 

For an energy supplier, we’re using contract data within their renewal emails to impact churn. Conversion rate is higher with the customer’s current contract data in the email than when we’re not using data from the existing contract. 

Email script tokens help you create spot-on, tailored emails at scale!

Learn how SmartBug generated a 6,800% increase in email marketing traffic using  Marketo and inbound marketing tactics.

Snippets = Consistent Branding

From Julz James, Director of Marketing Operations at Appirio:

When talking about the best features of Marketo, I always talk about snippets and dynamic content. You can just add snippets to emails and have static content, or you can make them dynamic by applying segmentations. 

Snippets are helpful for parts of your email that are consistently used in each send, like logo, social icons, and footer information (including address and unsubscribe info). The most common segmentation for snippets is “Country”. You can adjust the logo URL, address in the footer, and social links to be related to each country’s requirements. 

The great thing about snippets is that once you create them, you can use them in multiple places and if you need to update anything, you just update it once.

Dynamic Content = Language Localization

From Trent Cross, Consultant at Revenue Pulse:

One of the features where I see the biggest impact is dynamic content. Dynamic content can be based on vertical markets, demographics, past behavior, products, roles/titles, languages, plus much more.

One large worldwide travel company initially sent their emails in English to all their customers and partners. Based on feedback and additional research, they decided to provide communication in the regions' respective languages. This ended up being more than 30 languages, plus relevant imagery for each email. Dynamic content and segmentations made it easy to execute localized content. 

This effort took some time to implement, but saw significant impacts and growth in the non-English countries and regions. While many companies may decide to forego dynamic content due to the perceived complexity and time to implement, these efforts often yield the best results.

Marketo’s API = Enterprise-Level Automation

From Corey Bayless, 2020 Marketo Champion:

The functionality that brings me the biggest wins is complete interaction with the API. Not all instances need this type of integration, but any company going from large to enterprise definitely will.

My team and I have been able to put together some extremely efficient backend API system operations that help with being able to scale the platform and stay consistent with architecture and business demand. The goal is to avoid the user interface, because it is exhausting at scale to track all the different assets and combinations. 

One example: You can use the API to extract all landing pages at once, target the ones you care about, and make any type of bulk update to the source code. Through the API, we can bulk update forms, snippets, templates, everything—across thousands of items programmatically.

And Finally ... Webhooks = Donut Delivery

From Greg Ah Sue, Director of Marketing Automation at Podium:

My favorite Marketo feature is the ability to trigger webhooks. This makes Marketo incredibly powerful and wildly versatile. 

I use webhooks to trigger Slack messages, enrich lead data, send donuts, and even flash smart bulbs in our marketing office when new leads come in.

An example lead data webhook would be the following scenario: 

  1. Form is submitted with email and company name. 
  2. A flow step of "call webhook" hits a data enrichment company to return additional details about that business (address info, job title, number of employees, etc.). 
  3. We then use that data to route the lead to the appropriate rep, send relevant content, and add to vertical specific engagement programs.

The donut webhook is part of our target account program—it's a high-touch engagement program to support our account-based marketing efforts. We trigger webhooks that send donuts, golf balls, and even cakes. Our Marketo instance is insane!

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Nicki Kamau

About the author

Nicki Kamau is the Marketing Programs Manager for SmartBug Media. With experience in inbound, social media and event marketing, Nicki has been a part of building 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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