By Danielle Langenderfer

Marketo is a very robust marketing automation tool that can provide you with endless possibilities for reaching your target audience, nurturing leads and customers, reporting on ROI, and so much more. Unfortunately, when you scale your Marketo instance, a common complaint I hear—and have experienced for myself—is that Marketo runs very slowly. 

There are several reasons for Marketo speed issues, but the good news is that there are also solutions for each of these causes. Here are a few of the key reasons why your Marketo instance may be slow and the solutions to help you solve the problem.

Reason 1: Too Many Active Trigger Campaigns

Trigger campaigns are smart campaigns that utilize at least one trigger action filter within the smart list—for example, added to list, filled out form, data value changed, and so on.

When campaigns like this are activated, they are always on and always looking for people that qualify. All your active trigger campaigns will be running in the queue at the same time, causing the processing time to slow down.
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While trigger campaigns are an essential resource for real-time actions to take place, such as sending confirmation emails, alerting sales of a newly qualified lead, and so on, you may want to evaluate your trigger campaign strategy to ensure you are only utilizing trigger campaigns when necessary. Here are a few things to consider as you look to decrease the volume of trigger campaigns:

  • Deactivate unused trigger campaigns. On a quarterly basis, audit your existing trigger campaigns and identify any that may no longer be in use or needed—for example, confirmation emails for a webinar. If the webinar is over, and people are no longer able to register, deactivate the trigger campaign that sends this email and reduce the need for Marketo to process this particular smart campaign.
  • Turn trigger campaigns into batch campaigns. Batch campaigns are similar to trigger campaigns, but the action is not immediate. Instead of using trigger filters, batch campaigns utilize standard filters within the smart list to identify who qualifies. From there, the campaign can be scheduled to run once or on a recurring basis at specific days/times. To replace trigger campaigns, it is recommended to schedule a recurrence, at night when possible. These can be utilized to update data values, send welcome emails or other automated emails that do not require immediacy, and more.

Schedule Recurrence

Helpful Tip

When you audit your existing trigger campaigns, here is a quick way to identify active trigger campaigns:

  • Navigate to “Marketing Activities,” and select the filter icon within the tree menu on the left-hand side.
  • Within the filters, select “Trigger Campaigns.”

Triggered Campaigns

  • Review the trigger campaigns to identify if any can be deactivated. Focus on time-specific campaigns, emails, events, online advertising campaigns, and so forth.
  • Once you have identified a campaign to deactivate, navigate to the “Schedule” tab within the campaign. Click “Deactivate.”

Reason 2: Complex Smart Lists

Another reason for Marketo speed issues is complex smart lists. Complex logic created with multiple filters within a smart list can cause Marketo to take longer to identify who qualifies. And, if you reference a smart list within another smart list, the number of filters is also added into the mix of logic. While Marketo has a max limit of filters within a smart list of about 100, it is recommended that it’s no larger than 15-25.


While your business may require complex logic when identifying your ideal audiences, there are a few solutions that may help you reduce the complexity of your smart lists.

  • Avoid nested smart lists within smart lists. If possible, keep all filters within your one smart list.
  • Create segments based on common audiences. Utilize these segments within your smart lists to avoid complex filters within each smart list.
  • Add people to static lists. When possible, consider adding people to static lists that can be referenced within your smart list to avoid referencing other smart lists within your existing one.
  • Utilize constraints within triggers and filters. In an effort to reduce the total number of filters, use constraints when possible to incorporate additional layers of logic into your qualifications.

Helpful Tip

When exploring the best options for updating your smart lists, explore the Marketo community to see if anyone has had a similar problem to solve. Here are some tips from the community on how to build better-performing smart lists.

Reason 3: Too Many People and Too Many Assets

Large databases and a large number of assets can create Marketo speed issues. Similar to the issue with complex smart lists, if there are more people and assets to search through, Marketo is going to take longer to identify the person or find the asset you need.


Complete a regular cleanse of your Marketo instance. Similar to the audit of your active trigger campaigns, conduct an audit of your Marketo instance regularly. This includes the following:

  • Deleting test or unutilized campaigns, templates, emails, and so on
  • Archiving outdated campaigns and assets
  • Evaluating contacts within your database and completing the following as necessary: cleaning out old contacts, merging duplicates, identifying needs for new processes, and so on

Helpful Tip

While there is no standard checklist for auditing your assets and people, there are some best practices to keep in mind. Follow these steps to kick off your Marketo cleansing process, but then identify what works and doesn’t work for you. Create your own checklist and time line to ensure you are maintaining your ideal Marketo instance.

While there may be other reasons causing Marketo to be slow, these tend to be the most common. In general, if you keep your Marketo instance as clean, simple, and organized as possible, you should be able to maintain a decent speed within your system.


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Danielle Langenderfer

About the author

Danielle Langenderfer was formerly a Marketing Automation Manager based in Cleveland, OH. Dani provided Marketo expertise and support in everything from implementation through to strategy and execution. Outside of work, you can find Dani playing with her daughter, crafting, or cooking/baking. Read more articles by Danielle Langenderfer.

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