Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Marketo update March 2012

It's been a really long time since I posted an update to this blog on implementing Marketo and I've learned a lot.  I've seen lots of limitations and lots of cool functionality that is fairly easy to implement once you get used to doing things the way Marketo requires you to do them. 

I would still say that the Marketo user interface is weak, but it's gotten a little better with the March release.  You can move and rename some types of files, but then there are others that you can't move or rename - meaning if you want to rename it, then you have to clone it and delete the old one.

Here are a couple key learnings:
  • I built out some really cool landing page and tracking functionality integrated with Marketo.  We've been able to create a cookie that captures a parameter from a tracking link so we can maintain the source of leads whenever they convert on our website and landing page forms.  The business benefit is that this tracking infrastructure makes it easy to see in exactly how many leads or campaign members were driven by a particular lead source so you can measure conversion rates and return on investment for every marketing campaign investment.  That means if someone hits a landing page with a tracking link, the tracking data is stored in the cookie.  Then if that person navigates away from the landing page to visit our website before they convert, and then they come back to a form to convert up to 30 days later, the tracking data stored in the cookie is captured by the registration form.  In addition to this, there were some challenges due to limitations in Marketo in passing lead source data into campaigns.  Fortunately, just released cross-object workflow in their Spring 2012 release and I was able to develop a field update workflow on the Campaign Member object that solved that issue.  I'm planning to create a separate post with a ppt that explains this tracking infrastructure.
  • We spent a lot of time working with the Marketo integration with Go-to-Webinar and learned a lot of painful lessons.  The pain that we experienced was bad data and the integration crashing a couple times.  The integration works pretty well once you understand the constraints and how it behaves.  Unfortunately, the Marketo docucmentation on this topic and lots of other topics is really poor.  For anyone planning to leverage the Marketo integration with Go-to-Webinar or Webex, here are a few key lessons:
    • The main benefit of the Marketo integration is that you can start using your own registration forms on your website to register people for webinars.  That gives you the ability to customize the webinar registration questions, to automatically add leads to when they register for a webinar, and the ability to track conversion and drop-off rates on webinar registration pages.
    • The Marketo integration to either Go-to-Webinar or Webex is designed to work with one Marketo program.  We were promoting a webinar with 3 different partners and had set up three different Marketo programs pointing to the same Go-to-Webinar event so we could track the leads separately for each lead source.  This started out fine, but then all sorts of problems occurred.  The connectors kept crashing.  Then the Marketo program started combining campaign members in SFDC from the different programs - effectively defeating the purpose of separate programs.  The bottom line - you can only set up one Marketo Program synched to one SFDC campaign and one Go-to-Webinar Event.  The ability to associate different lead sources that might drive traffic to the webinar required the tracking infrastructure that I described above.
    • Marketo's Go-to-Webinar integration uses the Marketo Webinar Channel.  What that means is that your SFDC Campaign Members will be assigned member statuses by Marketo and it will cause all sorts of problems if you try to use SFDC campaign member statuses that are different from what Marketo uses.  My advice, use what Marketo uses for webinar campaign member statuses.  We tried using different ones and wound up getting all sorts of error values in the campaign member statuses.
  • On the negative side, I've had some really poor experiences with Marketo Basic Support.  My experience with Marketo support is that they are under pressure to handle lots of cases so they point you to documentation that explains how the functionality works and then they close the case.  What they don't do is take the time to tell you how to apply that functionality to solve your specific issue.  And since they closed the case, you have to open a new case to try to get that answer.  And even if you get that answer, there's no guarantee that it's right.  I've had multiple experiences with a Marketo Implementation Consultant doing paid consulting for us where he's told us to do a certain thing to solve a specific issue only to find out later that it didn't really solve the problem.  I would consider that another example of Marketo people understanding how some functionality works, but not really understanding how to solve your specific business issue.  And the challenge is how much bad data you create or how much data you lose going through that learning curve.  To try to address this issue, we decided to sign up for Marketo Premiere Support where we get a named support agent and access to more senior support people.  So far, it seems to be working, but I'll weigh in on this in a few more weeks.
What's my overall opinion of Marketo at this point?  It has some nice, powerful functionality.  It's definitely easier to use than Eloqua once you get used to the Marketo user interface and workflows.  It also has plenty of warts in functionality and the user interface.  The analytics are really poor.  Marketo is designed for looking at the behavior of individual leads.  It's not designed for analyzing the behavior of groups of leads.  The Activity Log is really helpful for debugging individual leads because you can easily see what happened or didn't happen at the field level.  Overall, it seems to be working okay and we're finding ways to work around the deficiencies.  In my opinion, Act-On has a basic product that is very easy to use and the question is whether they can add more robust functionality to catch up with Eloqua and Marketo.  Sigh,.....If I could ever get some VC funding and some good software engineers, I think I could define requirements for a SaaS marketing automation platform that could blow away Marketo and Eloqua with the right combination of ease of use plus functionality.