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We get this question quite a bit now at Room 214, especially since plastering our “Marketo Certified” logo all over our website and email signatures! Marketo is both a software solution and a leading vendor in the space commonly known as demand generation or marketing automation.

Marketo software is provided through a software-as-a-service (SAAS) model, which basically means it’s a hosted solution you access through your web browser for a monthly recurring fee (that can range from $1,195/month to well beyond that).

Note: The less expensive, “Spark” version of Marketo is not something we’d recommend due to limitations in its’ functionality. Also, if you are working through a Marketo agency partner, it’s possible to get discounted pricing for commitments less than a year.

The leading benefits of using Marketo relate to:

  • Faster revenue growth
  • Tracking and improving marketing and sales performance
  • Improving efficiencies and effectiveness of assets and communications that turn leads into sales

Two Core Marketing Automation Concepts

Like other demand generation software solutions, Marketo helps you take advantage of two core concepts with respect to best practices in marketing automation:

1. Lead scoring: Marketo software allows you to customize a scoring system that assigns points for actions taken by a prospect or current customer.

Examples of actions may include out one of your online forms, re-tweeting something you posted on Twitter, visiting certain pages on your website, clicking on links in an email you sent, etc. The more actions somebody takes, the more points they get, and the higher their lead score.

Another common attribute of lead scoring is based on personas (common member traits that comprise your target audience). On a sophisticated level, you might pay more attention to demographics and psychographics. On a more basic level, you might be considering something as simple as a job title. For example, you might say a Vice President is a better target audience than a manager – so the VP gets a higher lead score (more points) to start.

The big idea with lead scoring is understanding where a person is in the buying stage (the most basic buying stage structure is frequently known as AIDA – or Awareness, Interest, Decision, Action).

By knowing where somebody is in the buying stage, you can categorize them in a manner that automates (at least part of) the process of following up. The overall objective is to efficiently qualify, segment and advance leads to the next buying stage.

2. Lead Nurturing: As the buzzword implies, this is about what it actually takes to grow an opportunity through the buying stages all the way to a sale. With lead scoring as your means of separating these opportunities, lead nurturing answers who will get what content, and when (based on the score).

This content may consist of emailed reports, white papers, research, videos, tutorials, guides, etc. The objective is to stay in front of the prospect or customer with relevant information that is helpful. Depending on the size of your prospect/customer list, doing all of this manually could be a huge grind. Marketo helps solve the problem by automating the processes.

Another aspect of lead nurturing, synonymous with buying stages, is called lifecycle management. The key concept is a lead may turn into a sale, but a sale always remains a lead. Marketo helps you market to current customers with this in mind.

How Does it All Work?

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At the heart of Marketo is an administrative dashboard that enables you to configure marketing campaigns that leverage creative assets, tracking and delivery systems for email, landing pages, webinars, social media and more. The tracking includes (javascript) code that you can place on your web properties to help track a range of actions/metrics (also viewable in the dashboard).

A major function of tracking and maintaining tactical performance within Marketo’s platform is the automation of systems improvement that are frequently done in a manual fashion. An example of this might be implementing a change across thousands of landing pages due to what was learned in a split test of landing pages that produce better results.

The orchestration of marketing campaigns with lead scoring and lead nurturing takes us to the final common aspect of Marketo – which is it’s ability to integrate with other software platforms. The best example of this is, and a common use case can be seen when the lead scoring triggers the movement of a “marketing qualified lead” (MQL) to a “sales qualified lead” (SQL).

This is more common language to broadly categorize stages in the customer lifecycle – but the point is a SQL will typically be associated with an alert or prompt of some kind that gets a sales person to make a phone call or do a personal follow-up. Guess where many sales people on this earth manage their leads? Yes,, SAP, Sugar CRM, Mircosoft Dynamics, the list goes on. Marketo will effectively mirror and sync much of it’s data with these CRM platforms, enabling sales people to continue working with the tools they already know.

In summary, Marketo provides a true platform by which to manage and scale modern marketing practices. Like its competitors, nobody in the space is perfect. And since this continues to be a new and emerging market (note: because this stuff actually works) – you’ll find no shortage of other resources to explore.

Here are some additional ones specific to Marketo:

This post is part of a series of articles on Marketing Automation from Room 214. We are a certified Marketo Agency Partner who can help you with implementing your automation system, provide consulting to align your sales and marketing teams and create content designed to connect with your marketing system to drive leads. To learn more visit our website

Jason Cormier

Jason Cormier

As co-founding Partner of Room 214, Jason is dedicated to helping people and companies grow and innovate. He is a best-selling author of Transformative Digital Marketing, is on HubSpot's Global Partner Advisory Council and serves as a mentor for social entrepreneurs at Watson University. He believes in acting out of love instead of fear, connected leadership and open book management.