The Top 7 Signs That You’d Better Fix Your Marketing Automation Setup – and What To Do About It

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Thor Johnson, ex-CMO of Eloqua, told me that he saw oh-too-many customers operating their marketing automation system as a “high priced email system.” And eventually their executive team wakes up and says “What is going on here?”

In being in and around many different Marketo implementations the past several years (Yep, I needed to setup a different email address for each login – no duplicate email addresses allowed!), I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly.

So I’m here to share the top signs that you’d better fix your marketing automation setup – and what to do about it.

It’s based on Marketo although the lessons are applicable to many other tools including Eloqua, Pardot, Act-on, Manticore and others.  You will see some common themes including using a modular and single source asset approach with program scalability and ease-of-maintenance in mind.

As the title implies, for each of the 7 areas, I’ve included the specific action you (or your team member if you are not the principal user) can take to remedy.

Sign #1: You’re only using batch campaigns, not trigger campaigns

The trigger campaign is one of the functions that takes a marketing automation tool way beyond an email system. Trigger campaigns allow you to take a campaign and determine when you’d like to automatically put a prospect into a multi-step campaign (as opposed to having Marketing send out push campaigns, periodically).   Trigger campaigns help increase the likelihood that your message will be read, and when it does, it will stick, based on timeliness and relevance.

What to do about it:

These trigger campaigns need to be “evergreen”, non-date specific campaigns that are relevant based on a prospect’s stage or activities.  You may have the pieces in place but you never took the time to make the campaign automated. Some of the first triggers you should look to set up are:

  • A campaign for new leads that enter your database (Intro Campaign) – introduce yourself to them and share content, and begin to track their topical interests
  • A campaign as leads move through the buying process – trigger this to start a certain time duration (e.g. 1 day) after they advance a stage in your revenue process
  • A trigger campaign based on access a key piece of content – setting up a series of touches following the access to a key piece of content


Sign #2: You’re creating many, many forms

I find this is a major misconception for novice users.  You do not need to set up a different form for each web page that requires a form, in fact your goal should be to set up as few forms as possible.

 What to do about it:

Start by standardizing the fields you capture – you should have a single form that you use for webinar registration and possibly a different form for content registration. You should only set up unique forms if there is a really good reason on a case by case basis.

You may be wondering how to set up different confirmation emails or lists based on using the same form on a different web page.  To do this, on the trigger action “filled out form”, add a “web page” constraint and select the specific URL. This allows you to tie the rule not only to the form, but the form being on a specific page.

Another common misconception is that you need to set up different forms to track different lead source (e.g. for a specific webinar or piece of content). You can rather use a hidden field and a URL parameter to track this, rather than having to “hard code” it on the form.

Lastly, while you’re at it, with your standard forms ensure that you are using progressive profiling. This allows you to shorten the info that you require on each form and progressivelycapture this data from  your prospects as they engage with more of your content.


Sign #3: You’re cloning campaigns (marketing activities)

When setting up a campaign, Marketo allows you to define a Smart List (who the campaign is to be targeted) and a Flow (defining the steps in the campaign).  Another common mistake that I see is cloning a campaign to run it to a different audience or Smart List. The issue that you’ll run into is this will become very unmanageable when it comes to maintaining your campaigns when you need to make updates.

What to do about it:

When setting up a campaign, call it “Run Campaign X”, whose Smart List is triggered by a “Marketo Flow Action”.  This means that you will now have the option to “Request this Campaign” from other campaigns in order to run it.  So you could set up two different campaigns, over a period of time, both which will request “Campaign X”, instead of having to copy the steps and rules of Campaign X into two places.

This both saves you time in setup, and ensures that if Campaign X ever changes, you only need to change it in one place. You want to have one source campaign to update, not many copies of the campaign when it inevitably changes. Modularity and single source are key principles.

Lastly, by always executing the campaign from a single source, you can set this to “run campaign once” to ensure that you never accidentally push the same person through that same campaign a second time.

And here I continued with Signs 4-7.

And below please share – what is on your list? What are key knot holes or problem areas that you’ve learned based on experience that you want to share with others?

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