There are many Marketo best practices but landing pages and forms tend to have the most variance when rolled out by customers. It’s like a top 40 playlist of all your friends---everyone has about the same songs but there are always differences, For example, GNR always makes it onto mine even though they haven’t had a hit in 25 years.

 

Should you use Marketo hosted pages or your own internally posted pages? What about forms? Let’s dive into many of the pros and cons of the various models to see which model fits your business best.

 

Make sure to read to the bottom to check out the landing page comparison grid.

 

I’ve seen every combination and there is no “right” answer as the choice depends on your own needs. Before we get started, there are a lot of smart people doing some amazing things to get around limitations of various models. I’m sure I’m missing some solutions so please share your best practices in the comments section.

 

First off, What is a Marketo Hosted Landing Page?

I won't go into details on this subject, but to simplify, these are pages and forms that are hosted on the Marketo servers that leverage Marketo functionality to collect data on your leads. Think of these as stand-alone capabilities. If you didn't have a website, you could use Marketo to collect all of your data and host all of your landing pages.

 

The big trade off question to ask. Do you want massive design flexibility or do you want to sacrifice a little bit of that design for ease of deployment, streamlined management and additional functionality?

 

1) Marketo Hosted Pages with Marketo Hosted Forms

The Perfect World solution

 

This is the default recommendation that we make to clients. By far, this method is the easiest to get up and running and maintain while enabling the organization to leverage full Marketo functionality. I love when companies go this route as I know they’ll have repeatable pages that look great, are easy to clone and leverage personalization.

 

With this model, the big benefit is there is no need for IT, development or creative to get involved on an ongoing basis. This significantly cuts down the time of developing new campaigns. I can’t stress this last point enough as I’ve seen the pains some organizations face when working projects internally.

 

The Example

Below illustrates a Marketo landing page leveraging Marketo functionality and a template designed by third party provider Knak. Some notes:

  • This template is easy to design and easy to manage requiring no IT involvement.
  • The page is dynamic meaning that it differs based on the person visiting it.  As you can see, it’s very targeted towards moms in a certain geography (As opposed to grandfathers in the Northeast).
  • The page is prepopulated with the person’s information to save the lead time.
  • The form leverages progressive profiling to deepen the relationship with the lead.
  • Social features enable the form to get filled out faster by leveraging the lead’s social profile.

 

MarketoLandingPagesExample.gif

 

Some quotes from the community…..


“One of the benefits of using Marketo landing pages is that they are easy for someone on the marketing team to put together without waiting for our engineers to put together a new page or form.” Wintha Kelati

 

“I tend to favor Marketo landing pages so I can easily close the loop on reporting and take advantage of test groups.” Jenn DiMaria

 

“Very easy to deploy -- tokenize and clone in programs to launch new pages in minutes.” Justin Norris

 

“In general, always host in Marketo, easy for marketers to go in and fix.” Josh Hill

 

“One major drawback is since these pages aren't connected to your company website, it won't add any SEO benefit to your company website.” Wintha Kelati

 

“As a con, extra maintenance overhead to keep LP templates up to date with your main website look and feel” Justin Norris

 

Benefits

 

  • Easy to use, massive efficiency gains.

    • No IT involvement.

  • Full Marketo support.

    • Social form fill to make it easier for people to sign in.

    • Progressive profiling enables deeper levels of questions as a prospect engages.

    • Social sharing built into pages.

      • Easier to share.

      • Easier to track.

  • Autotracking - A person’s anonymous activity is automatically captured and tied to the known lead.

  • Data Feeds into Marketo directly.

  • Advanced Capabilities.

    • Dynamic content, program tokens and more.

Drawbacks

These may or may not be drawbacks for your organization but are worth consideration

  • Not exact look and feel of main website
  • Maintained through a CMS other than your main website.
  • Not as much design flexibility as your own site.
  • Loss of SEO on main site (Although this point is debatable).

2) Your Own Website Pages/CMS with Marketo Hosted Forms

Second Recommendation
In this scenario, you’d take the embed code and add the code to wherever you want a form to live on your site.
The big difference between this option and hosted Marketo pages is lost efficiency (in most cases) and loss of some advanced Marketo functionality. However, some organizations find that tradeoff acceptable to keep the pages within the main website framework.


The bigger your company, the more likely you are to choose this option due to the branding element. Also, with more decision makers in the process, other departments may not recognize the value of the Marketo hosted option. As a side note, this is why I’m writing this article as we have several clients trying to communicate the pros/cons across their organization.

 

Some quotes from the community…..


“A benefit is the landing pages are always consistent with the look and feel of your other site content.” Justin Norris

 

“I would go for external pages with embedded forms because of the ability to align styles/layouts/changes/etc. across the enterprise.” Sanford Whiteman

 

“We use Marketo landing pages for all of our events (registration page, confirmation page, etc.) and any misc. pages that may be needed quickly and may not necessarily fit within our websites' structure.  But for everything else, we use our main CMS (Sitecore) to present a common/consistent user experience across our website.” Dan Stevens

 

"It really just depends on the need for that page.  One off content pieces sit with Marketo for us, established products, etc sit on our internal CMS." Lauren Beth

Benefits

  • A look that is exactly like the main website.

  • Changes are maintained through website CMS.

  • Most Marketo features are supported.

Drawbacks

  • Can’t take advantage of some of the advanced Marketo features.

  • Not as streamlined as Marketo-hosted pages.

  • Varying levels of reliance on IT and/or creative team on an ongoing basis.

3) Something Else

I’ve seen a lot of “something else” when it comes to pages and forms. If you go the something else route, just expect to do some custom coding and development. And, add a lot of time to your campaign workflows as there is long-term efficiency impact.


You might go this route if you want data to feed into some other system first and then feed into Marketo. Or, maybe you want to duel post into Marketo and the other system.
I usually see these types of implementations not work well because the marketers don’t know what to ask for and the developers are doing what the marketer asks. Basically, you are redeveloping the wheel that Marketo already created via the first two options.


I’d try to avoid this process if possible unless your organization understands the full pros/cons of the various options.

Benefits

  • Custom

Drawbacks

  • Bring on the Advil for ongoing issues.

  • Lack of scale.

The Grid

Let’s break it all out in grid format.

  • Bold = Desired choice
  • No Bold = Depends on needs

 

Marketo Pages w Marketo Forms

Your Own Pages with Marketo Forms

Something Custom

Management

Easy to Clone - Replicate pages for easier management

Yes

Dependent on website CMS like Sitecore (This may be the preference)

No

Self-contained Pages for Streamlined Management - Fewer cooks in the kitchen. No need for IT, Design, webmaster, etc

Yes

No

No

Enterprise Scale - Align styles and changes across all website and landing pages

No - Pages are one offs and can create ongoing maintenance issues (Generally)

Yes

??

Automatic Form Data feeds into Marketo.

Yes

Yes

Custom

Design Tool

Marketo

(easy/standard)

Website CMS (flexible)

??

Look and Feel

Landing page templates designed for conversion

Same exact user experience as your website

??

Access to Best Practice Responsive Landing Page Templates

Yes - Limited options available via Marketo collection. More available via Knak, a third party provider which I highly recommend (Developed by Marketo Champ Pierce Ujjainwalla)

Depends on CMS

??

Built in Page Conversion Report - Gain insights into how pages are converting.

Yes

No

??

Acquisition Program Reporting - Auto assign the lead’s first form fill out to the proper acquisition program (Like Eval Download).

Yes (automatic)

Yes (With an extra campaign)

??

Standard Marketo Features

Progressive profiling enables deeper levels of questions as a prospect engages.

Yes

Maybe (See comments)

No

Auto Cookie Tracking - A person’s anonymous activity is automatically captured via a cookie and tied to the known lead.

Yes

Yes

No, extra coding required

Parameter Support - Ability to track URL values for reporting

Yes

Yes (may require a little Java code)

??

Social Form Fill - Use social signons to complete form for faster form fills

Yes

Yes

No

Social Sharing Built into Pages

  • Easier to share

  • Easier to track

Yes

No, not integrated, have to use third party sharing apps. On the plus side, some of these apps may have more functionality.

Prefill - Reduce effort for the person who fills out a form by prefilling any known data.

Yes

Maybe/No

??

Advance Marketo Features

Personalization Tokens - e.g. Welcome Ken on landing page.

Yes

No

No

Program Tokens - e.g. Page heading populates across autoresponders, landing page, thank you page. A big efficiency gain.

Yes

No

No

Dynamic Content - e.g. Photo of a young Mom for a mother segment vs photo of a grandmother for an older woman.

Yes

No (Dependent on CMS)

??

Snippets / Additional Calls-to-Action - e.g. Suggested Content

Yes

No (But website CMS is likely to have this ability

??

A/B Testing - Test which creative works best.

Yes

No / Dependent on CMS

??

 

Notes: Some of the “No” might be able to be overcome with some java code development or third party app.

The Skinny

 

When making this analysis, organizations tend to get different answers from different parts of the organization--it can be a political ownership issue or an “I can do that” issue. My recommendation is to let the marketing team drive the decision with input from others.

 

If you want full Marketo functionality while streamlining landing page development, option one should be strongly considered.

 

If you want something that looks absolutely perfect and in sync with your website, consider option 2. Just be aware you need to develop processes and be reliant on others within your organization. Translation: This step equals longer time to develop programs.

 

You could also go hybrid and use both Marketo Hosted pages (for standalone asset offers) AND internally hosted pages (for evergreen pages like Contact Us). We’ve had several clients go this route.

 

What did I miss? Please share your best (and Worst) practices below? Good luck. 

Resources

Check out these great resources around the Marketo Community as well as a few external sources.

 

Community

Marketo landing pages versus web site landing pages? Community Discussion started by Erica Sanchez

Marketo Landing Pages vs Internally Hosted Pages, Community Discussion started by Joseph Hogya

Getting Started With Guided Landing Pages, Jordan Lund

Landing pages and SEO - marketo vs. our website. Community Discussion started by Laura Florek

Landing Pages: Unbounce or Marketo? Pros and cons s? Community Discussion started by Joel Mounsey

 

External

Marketo Responsive Landing Pages, Josh Hill, Marketing Rockstar Guides

Are Your Landing Pages Built for Mobile?, Jeff Coveney, RevEngine Insider

SEO for Marketo Landing Pages, Josh Hill, Marketing Rockstar Guides