Insights Marketo Programs: Tips and tricks for better program setup

Marketo Programs: Tips and tricks for better program setup

Following our recent blog Marketo Channels and Tags, we continue our deep dive into maximising your marketing performance with Marketo. If you are a marketer driving your organisation’s marketing automation efforts, in this blog you will learn about the practical steps to make your Marketo Program a success.

As Marketo professionals, we all use programs every day for a wide variety of functions and outcomes. Marketo programs are the bedrock of the system. However, there are some key Marketo Program setup steps which can make or break the value which can be offered by Marketo.

It is still surprising how many Marketo instances are in use without taking advantage of these two fundamental setup steps:

  • Program Success
  • Period Cost

For the less battle-hardened Marketo users out there, the Marketo definition of a program is…

“Programs represent a single marketing initiative. You can think of it as a container with all the stuff that you need to make the program work.”

Think of your marketing initiative as a wonderful holiday. Your Marketo Program is a suitcase to carry everything you need for that holiday.

You can use a Marketo Program to send a single email, organise an event or build a complex email nurture journey. You can also use programs to power multi-channel activities when combined with other integrated technologies.

Further information about the Marketo Program types can be found on the Marketo help pages.

How do we know if our marketing is successful?

Anyone who works in or is even loosely associated with marketing knows that marketers are obsessed with results. How well did a campaign perform? How many leads came from a piece of content?

If Program Success is not used correctly in Marketo, understanding what is working and what isn’t becomes a real headache. Program Success is intrinsically linked with Marketo Channels.

Program Success allows a successful outcome to be defined for each program. For example, a download of a new piece of content. If the Marketo Program is set up correctly, every time a person downloads the content, they are stamped with a Program Success.

This Success can then be used as an aggregated data point to analyse all Programs performance at a macro level. This can determine which marketing initiatives are top performers across a range of outcomes, whether that is new name collection, lead qualification and many more.

Program Success is also essential as a key data point in other linked systems. To name just three…

  • Attribution tools i.e. Marketo Measure (Bizible)
  • ABM platforms i.e. Demandbase
  • Advanced reporting i.e. Tableau.

And finally, Period Cost… the often-missing piece of the Program puzzle

Assigning a Period Cost is an often overlooked but essential step for setting up a Marketo Program.

A Period Cost is how much the marketing initiative cost in budget over time. This allows you to calculate the ROI for the marketing initiative using the Program Success.

Taking our previous example related to downloads of new piece of content, the total cost for this small marketing initiative could look like the following:

Marketo Programs: Tips and tricks for better program setup

Let’s say you intend to promote the content for a four-month period from September to December inclusive. The Period Cost would be as follows:

Marketo Programs: Tips and tricks for better program setup

In Marketo, on the Setup tab for the program, you can assign the Period Cost using the appropriate settings.

Once the Period Cost is assigned, you can use Marketo Analytics and Revenue Explorer to calculate various metrics. The Period Cost can be cross-referenced against the volume of leads captured, the total amount of engagements, the total amount of content downloads and more.

This can give insight into the following key marketing metrics and more:

  • Cost per Acquisition
  • Cost per Engagement
  • Cost per Qualified Lead

NOTE: If a Period Cost is not assigned to a Marketo Program, you can still report against the program if you set the Analytics Behaviour to Inclusive. However, if you would like to filter reporting using a cost time frame (i.e. the Program Opportunity Analysis report in Revenue Explorer), any program without a Period Cost will not be included in that report.

And an additional bonus section, what about Salesforce Campaigns? How do they come into play?

Salesforce Campaigns have a similar structure to Marketo Programs. A Marketo Program is linked to a Salesforce Campaign, they are directly aligned with each other.

The association between Marketo Programs and Salesforce Campaigns is as follows:

Marketo Programs: Tips and tricks for better program setup

An important point to note is that Marketo Program Statuses must exactly match the Salesforce Campaign Member Statuses to prevent errors. For more information on Program Statuses, you can read our blog on Marketo Channels and Tags.

The key part is that a Success in a Marketo Program should directly link to a Response in a Salesforce Campaign. This ensures reporting at a marketing initiative level is the same in both systems and everyone is looking at the same results no matter which system they are using.

Ash Chandler is a Technical Lead at WoolfHodson. You can learn more about him here. If you are interested in taking your Marketo sophistication to the next level or need support with Marketo fundamentals, WoolfHodson can help with system strategy or technical expertise, contact us today at

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