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3 Posts authored by: Edward Unthank (ETU) Expert

Enough to drive a MOPs person crazy:


A Marketing Automation Architect is perusing the marketing calendar and looking at emails scheduled to go out for the day. She spots an email marked as “operational,” meaning it will send to unsubscribed leads and will not include an unsubscribe footer. Upon further inspection, it seems this email should definitely not be sent as operational as it is definitely not transactional. She approaches the Marketing Manager who created and scheduled this email.

Marketing Operations Architect: Hi, Marketing Manager! How are you today? I noticed that you have an email scheduled to send as operational, but it’s not a webinar confirmation or an asset download delivery. Was that a mistake? I’m happy to fix it for you.

Marketing Manager: No, it wasn’t a mistake. I styled the email to look like it was coming from Outlook. If I sent it from Outlook I wouldn’t have an unsubscribe footer. What’s the difference?

Marketing Operations Architect: *screams internally*


Sound familiar? Contrary to what you might have heard during the sales process, Marketo is complex and running marketing through it requires a particular set of skills. Organizing your marketing team to account for these skill sets will ensure that you are getting everything out of Marketo that you can.


Specialized MOPS Team Structure: The Scalable Solution for Marketing Automation

Companies generally approach creating and launching programs in Marketo with either a generalist team structure or a specialized one.

  • The generalist team structure attempts to have Marketing Managers themselves build programs and architecture in Marketo after having received (at least some) training in Marketo. These Marketing Managers develop the campaign and write the copy, then build and schedule the program and campaigns in Marketo. Sometimes one of these Marketing Managers takes more of an ownership role over Marketo, but as a generalist instead of a full-time responsibility.
  • The specialized team structure introduces dedicated Marketing Operations specialists to the team structure. The Marketing Managers continue to develop campaigns and write copy, then hand off the information to a MOPs Specialist who builds and schedules it in Marketo. The Marketing Operations Architect provides ongoing support for the instance.




Most companies start with the generalist team structure, especially when marketing teams are lean and each person has to wear multiple hats. This team structure doesn't actually scale though, for a few reasons:

  • Gaining expertise in Marketo is time- and effort-intensive and requires a more technical skillset. Marketing Managers might not be impassioned by technical duties. Even if they are, it eats away at the creative time they need to develop campaigns and write copy.
  • You only need a little knowledge to execute campaigns in Marketo, but you need a lot more knowledge to build them right. Extra steps (like progression statuses) weren’t critical for sending communications at the time, but a year later, you find that you have sloppy data, can’t report on campaign successes, and have a Marketo instance (and corresponding CRM data) that is impossible to untangle.


The specialized team structure resolves many of the problems inherent in the generalized one by distributing tasks to the appropriate skill set.


Specialized Marketing Team Structure Roles

A professionally scaled marketing organization setup recognizes the roles that need to be filled on a nearly full-time basis:

  • Marketing Operations Architect: This person is the ultimate power user in Marketo. The person knows it inside and out and is the ultimate end-all of knowledge in the platform. Because of their depth of knowledge, MOPs Architects manage the submission process, marketing campaign templates, and overall governance of Marketo.
  • Marketing Operations Specialist: This is the person who builds the campaigns in Marketo. The Marketing Manager has provided all the copy, images, campaign schedule, and necessary materials. The MOPs Specialist is the one who implements the program and campaigns in Marketo, making sure that the emails and landing pages all function as expected, makes sure that programs are structured properly for reporting, and creates the assets to follow the overall governance structure for Marketo.
  • Marketing Manager: This is your traditional marketer, someone who thrives on creativity, designing resounding marketing programs, campaigns, and emails. The person in this role plans the marketing campaigns, pulls together the marketing copy and the incentives for leads to engage with the business, and gathers all the pieces of the marketing campaign together for handoff to a MOPs Specialist.


The Marketing Operations Architect creates the overall process and ensures that system-wide governance is enforced in Marketo—things like naming conventions, folder and campaign organization, and any time-saving initiatives in process. The Marketing Manager submits all the campaign information to the MOPs Specialist, who then builds the campaign in the platform. In most cases it’s an iterative process: some back-and-forth with the Marketing Manager on length of the copy or changes to images, for example. The MOPs Specialist stages the campaign and hands it over to the Marketing Manager to review for quality assurance (does the copy look right in emails, on landing pages, and so on). Once the Marketing Manager approves it, the MOPs Specialist launches the campaign in Marketo.



Setting Up A Centralized Submission Process to Optimize Project Management

A centralized submission process is a fundamental method of scaling marketing operations and marketing efforts. It establishes QA processes, eliminates errors from the building processes, and solidifies Service Level Agreements (SLAs) between marketing and marketing operations. It is the essential tool for scaling marketing in a complex enterprise organization. In a centralized submission process, Marketing Managers input their copy, images, schedule requirements, and so on, into a worksheet in your project management system, then submit it to the Marketing Ops Team. The worksheet has been developed to align with tokenized program templates. Individual sections, such as titles and headlines and body copy, are mapped to individual program tokens for the marketing programs. Here's how it works:



Why Centralized Submission Process and Not Just Email Back-and-Forths?

A centralized submission process is a great way to combat last-minute requests from Marketing Managers, over-communication to prospects, rogue marketing programs, inadequate QA for marketing communications, and scaling inefficiencies of the marketing operations teams. It standardizes the way Marketing Managers send their requirements to the Marketing Ops Specialists so that all relevant information is gathered before the campaign is implemented. It sets up an iterative relationship between the Manager and the Marketing Ops Specialist, which means errors are more likely to be caught and corrected before they reach your prospects’ eyes. It also provides a level of governance that guards against rogue marketing requests that disrupt other campaigns, and ensures that the method by which you obtain campaign performance metrics is consistent. Building out a centralized submission process is an iterative approach. Marketing Ops Specialists can build significantly faster when they have all of the build requirements consolidated in one place. Marketing Ops Architects can keep a steady eye on the speed that campaigns are being built, how SLAs are hit or missed, and refine program templates (and project management software) to smooth out problems as they come up between Marketing Managers and the Marketing Ops team.


How a Centralized Submission Process Works

The Marketing Manager submits a request that includes all collateral, assets, due dates, and the submitter’s name, through a project management system. There are obviously lots of different project management systems that you can choose, and each has its own pros and cons and general fitness for different team sizes. No matter if you're using LiquidPlanner, SmartSheet, Atlassian's Jira (my personal favorite), or something smaller, you should configure the project management software to be streamlined and the central area for dealing with ticketing for marketing campaigns.


The project management system alerts the Marketing Ops Specialist that a request has been submitted. The Marketing Ops Specialist reviews the information and, if necessary, consults with the Marketing Manager to clarify ambiguities or request additional information. When the program and assets are created, the Marketing Ops Specialist requests final approval from the Marketing Manager. Once the Marketing Manager approves the assets requested, the Marketing Ops Specialist executes the campaign. With this process, you double the number of eyes on the campaign before its execution. If your organization is quite large and brand conscious, you can also include a QA by your brand team in this step.



Setting Up a Centralized Process


For a fluid centralized submission process, do the following:


This makes creating email and landing page assets turnkey. Go one step further by housing your email and landing page assets in a templated program. That way you can simply clone an entire program that contains not only the necessary elements for your marketing initiative, but the tokens used for your email and landing pages. To learn more about program templates, we've compiled a full guide here: “The Marketo Expert’s Guide to Program Templates.”


Create a Request Worksheet for Your Marketing Managers. Now that you have tokenized approved templates, create a submission worksheet for your Marketing Managers. Include all the fields the Marketing Ops Specialists need in order to build the requested asset (copy, images, URL links), as well as options for approved templates. Marketing Managers complete the worksheets and send them via the project management system to your Marketing Ops team. Marketing Ops Specialists replace the token values with the content (copy, images, URL links) sent by the Marketing Manager. For example:



More advanced and scaled organizations, can manage the progress of the program as it is being built between the project management software and Marketo by using a program tag to specify where the program is in the build process—drafting, ready for review, QAing, ready to deploy, and deployed.


Scaling Into the Future


Establishing a Centralized Submission Process is how you get into really scaling your team and your marketing efforts. This approach allows you to add in new business units, new business acquisitions, new regions, and it guards you against turnover because there's a standardized way the whole process is dealt with. You get to have Marketing Operations Specialists do the building and QAing of the campaigns, and that gives the Marketing Operations Architects the chance to see how the process is working, identify problems and gaps, and then manage and tweak the Centralized Submission Process so that those improvements get to be felt throughout the whole organization, not just shoddily applied in silo'ed areas or with silo'ed Marketing Managers.


It'll make everyone's life easier in the medium-term, and your organization will start to see the benefits (measured in less money spent on headache medicine) nearly immediately.


P.S., we're hiring! If you thrive in Marketo excellence, send us a note with your LinkedIn profile: Marketo Consultant - Etumos

The backbone of a marketing automation platform is a prospect’s progression from original visitation and creation into a system all the way through becoming an active customer—driving that flow is how a prospect is treated within the system both operationally (behind-the-scenes data cleanliness) and effectively (choosing nurture communications, targeting tracks, and sales tasks). Lifecycle Processing takes how you think of your revenue model (or lead conversion funnel) and turns that into a collection of marketing automation actions that can be used as hooks by other operational programs or marketing initiatives.


Lifecycle Processing



Let’s say you work for a revenue team at a major B2B company. When a lead comes to your site and raises her hand by filling out a form or accessing a particular offer, what happens next? What is your team going to do to push that lead through marketing and sales, toward an open opportunity? What does your marketing automation system actually do at that point, and how does it choose to do so? With Lifecycle Processing, the process of moving leads from one Lifecycle Status to another is completely automated, based on preconfigured triggers. Prospects should automatically sort to the right Lifecycle Status upon creation in the system, and then move down the funnel at the right times and in the right order from there. This describes the Etumos approach to Lifecycle Processing.


Defining Lifecycle Status

Lifecycle status is defined by the progression from lead to contact. For each lead that enters the system, your goal is either to progress that lead toward becoming a customer, or to determine that the lead is unlikely to become a customer, and remove them from the lifecycle. The statuses that we use in Lifecycle Processing are derived from the SiriusDecisions waterfall model and have been carefully adapted to measure and optimize our efforts:

  • 0 – Processing: This status includes all new leads that you have not begun to qualify or define yet. It acts as a holding queue for operations that will happen to all new leads in the system, regardless of which stage they will fall into.
  • 1 – Marketing Accepted Lead (MAL): These leads have been qualified based on demographic scoring—philosophically, they’re leads who you’re interested in as a company, as they’d be a good fit as a customer and would be able to pay for your product or services.
  • 2 – Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL): These leads have been qualified based on behavioral scoring; philosophically, these are leads who are interested in your company, and are likely to have a positive conversation with Sales.
  • 3 – Sales Accepted Lead (SAL): These are leads the sales team has contacted directly or will contact soon. With organizations that have XDRs (choose your favorite acronym: Business Development Reps, Sales Development Reps, Marketing Development Reps, Lead Development Reps), these usually denote original lead vetting by a human.
  • 4 – Sales Qualified Lead (SQL): These are leads/contacts that the sales team has begun to push toward open opportunities, showing an opportunity with an estimated dollar amount and a closing timeframe.
  • 5 – Customer: These are contacts that have been attached to closed-won opportunities.
  • 9 – Disqualified: These are leads or contacts that have been removed from your lifecycle, due to the fact that they were not demographically and/or behaviorally qualified—they’ll never become customers, neither now nor ever.


After a prospect has been placed into one of these statuses after Original Processing, the leads are passed through further lifecycle statuses sequentially, moving further down the funnel but not up the funnel. Each time the Lifecycle Processing program detects a milestone lifecycle event,a new event occurs in the lifecycle, the appropriate  status is triggered automatically. In order to conduct effective Lifecycle Processing, you’ll need to go through and establish the triggers that are used to initiate each Lifecycle Status. There are two ways that we think of the triggers that kick off a Lifecycle Status change—system-based triggers and process-based triggers. System-based triggers rely on system infrastructure, such as a score change hitting a threshold. Process-based triggers require a process to be in place by humans on your team, such as a Sales Rep changing a prospect’s Lead Status to “Disqualified” based on phone conversations. Once you have the defining triggers codified for each Lifecycle Status, you can organize marketing and sales efforts based on each Lifecycle Status milestone. For example, “once a lead becomes a Marketing Accepted Lead, which nurture program should she be placed in?” Or “once a prospect becomes a Marketing Qualified Lead, should we assign a task to Sales for follow-up and send an email alert to the owner?”


Lifecycle Processing Upon Creation


Running through Original Processing

The first stage of processing happens before we know where a lead actually fits into our lifecycle. Remember that “lead is created” trigger that gets used (and abused) everywhere? All operational smart campaigns that happen based on that lead’s creation, regardless of what stage the lead fits into, can be consolidated into this collection of smart campaigns. This includes calculating the source of the lead and conducting demographic scoring. If you’re running controlled cohort tests as a part of your marketing process, here is where you’d assign those random cohorts. The final step of Original Processing is a tree-based decision of which Lifecycle Status this newly-identified prospect fits into. For example, if a prospect has a higher behavioral score than our threshold, it jumps past Marketing Accepted Lead and directly to Marketing Qualified Lead. If this is a new Contact that’s been identified late in the sales process (such as finally meeting the CEO of a company for final verification before a big purchase), it goes directly to Sales Qualified Lead.


Becoming a Marketing Accepted Lead

A Marketing Accepted Lead (MAL) is any lead that is determined to be valid, someone who can at some point become a customer. At this point, a lead has just become known and we have relatively little information on its behavior. MAL leads should also be added to nurture campaigns, in order to create opportunities for behavioral scoring.


Transitioning from Marketing Accepted Leads into Marketing Qualified Leads

A Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) is the next step in Lifecycle Processing after MAL, defined as someone who is both demographically qualified (aka, you’re interested in them) and behaviorally qualified (aka, they’re interested in you). This status is triggered whenever a lead’s behavioral score crosses a certain threshold, or whenever a lead completes a hand-raise form that indicates they are ready to have a conversation with sales personnel. At this point, the next steps are to assign a sales owner to each individual lead, and try to initiate contact via that sales person.


Moving into Sales Accepted Leads

Sales Accepted Leads (SAL) have been prequalified already, and they’re now definitively owned by a salesperson. The goal here is to get human contact going with a lead who is a good use of a salesperson’s time—we like to think of this as a lead who is likely to have a positive conversation with a salesperson. If you have an inside sales team or XDRs (sales development representatives, marketing development representatives, lead development representatives, business development representatives, or your own favorite acronym), it becomes these persons’ jobs to initiate contact, establish human qualification, and move toward next steps of mapping your solution to your prospects’ problems. We usually identify Sales Accepted Leads as leads who have activity logged or change owners into known XDRs. The operational smart campaigns that follow do things like pausing from marketing nurture campaigns, assign follow-up tasks, add to an outbound remarketing campaign, and occasionally alert a team member that a lead has transitioned to SAL.


Opportunities create Sales Qualified Leads

Sales Qualified Leads (SQL) are, in almost all cases, identified as contacts who have become attached to an open Opportunity. Different organizations create Opportunities at different times depending on how the Sales team is structured, but the general rule is that when a close timeframe and estimated dollar amount have been established, an Opportunity is created. There are only two outcomes: Closed-Won or Closed-Lost. If a prospect has come this far, the prospect has been qualified many times over, and the results of this stage are directly measured into each salesperson’s close rate. Because this is an important moment, we like to mark SQLs as Marketing Suspended to make sure we err on the side of caution and not putting our foot in our mouth with an automated email.


Changing the way you operationally think

Lifecycle Processing is the backbone of how marketing automation runs, and it creates the measurement process for a data-driven marketing system. Having a fully organized Lifecycle Processing program quickly answers the question, “What happens in our marketing automation system operationally and regarding prospect communication?” It creates hooks for other operational smart campaigns, so you can very quickly try out new marketing initiatives without worrying about breaking a delicate order of operations. Importantly from an organization focused on increasing revenue from a scientific approach, Lifecycle Processing establishes measurable milestones and digests the revenue-creation process into a mathematical model that can be improved over time. Want more revenue? Increase the conversion rate from MAL to MQL. Is your SAL-to-SQL conversion rate lower than the industry standard? Increase that conversion rate for more revenue. Need to quickly pump the volume of leads for more revenue later? Feed the lead generation engine by creating a larger volume of Marketing Accepted Leads.


This article is a post from the Etumos blog series. More Marketo nerdery available there!

Using Marketo Tokens to create more scalable, dynamic content


Program tokens are the best! Those are the the tokens that start with “my.” and they’re specific to Marketo programs and Marketo folders in the Marketing Activities section which hold programs (i.e., all folders except for local asset folders that are within programs).


We originally started venturing into tokenizing content back when I was venturing into making responsive Marketo landing pages, since the WYSIWYG had become so difficult to use. I had realized pretty quickly that you could bring in all content through tokens in programs, and it cut down the time required to make programs (landing pages, emails, and everything else) from something like 2 hours to 15 minutes.


Enter tokens, which still bring in all of the content—pictures, buttons, value propositions, titles, links, and text—except with tokens. You simply clone from your program template, edit tokens on the program, and all of the changes are populated instantly. We can publish tokenized responsive landing pages (hopefully becoming redundant soon with Marketo's next few releases!) while saving hours with each new program.




We tokenize everything, and so should everyone. In fact, we don’t even use Marketo’s landing page WYSIWYG editor. We don’t even open it. Same with emails. When we make a Marketo program, we just clone from a template program and change tokens, and it takes about 10 minutes. Before, we would spend 45 minutes nudging elements left and right by single pixels to get it all perfect.


A Quick Tokenization Guide


Program tokens cascade. They can be inherited and overwritten. Ever had to go through yearly updating of the copyright year? Well this way you can save two days of busy work—plop that year into a Universal token.


Make a “Universal” folder in your Marketing Activities section. Put tokens in there that you’ll use everywhere. Here's a screenshot example of what we use on the Universal level:



And program tokens! Here's a screenshot of an email campaign template, one that fits in with our engagement programs:


Emails are a fun way to use tokens, because emails don’t actually have to reside within the program itself. They can be housed in the Design Studio and a flow step sending an email within the program means that the non-local email will have local program tokens. Best use? Universal Fulfillment Email.


There are generally three levels of tokens that we use: "Universal" level (on the top-most containing folder), "Folder" level (on any folder below "Universal"), and "Content" level (specific to the program). You can turn your programs into miniature content management systems through program tokens like this.




Token nuances—the types of tokens


There are two types of tokens that we use everywhere: text tokens and rich text tokens. They have some nuances to them, which you can see in this table:



Text tokens containing full URLs will not be tracked in Marketo emails! That’s because the way email links are tracked for clicks is through shortening them specific to the user. Because text tokens aren’t filtered through normal processing, they won’t be shortened and you will therefore not find any link tracking to work.




http://www.{{my.Email -}}” — now you have link-tracking tokens!


The best rule of thumb for determining if you should use rich text tokens or text tokens is this: do I want paragraphs? Because they’re going to show up whether you want them or not.


More questions you’ll need to consider:


Will a non-coder need to (and be able to) edit this? Will a non-coder need to change formatting on this?


Is this abnormal code that’s going to be filtered out when I don’t want it to be? JS? CSS? HTML with non-WWC-compliant attributes?


The final word on tokens


Note that you can’t put tokens inside tokens. The only exception is a Calendar token, which takes event tokens but not program tokens.


In text emails, rich text tokens spit out the full HTML. That means someone on a Blackberry (okay, probably just an old Blackberry) is going to see your raw HTML code output in the text-only email. Hence, in that case, we have back-up text tokens instead of rich text tokens.


Want to see tokens in action? It's easiest to see demos, which were luckily recorded during my session from Marketo Summit 2015: Architecting a Scalable and Robust Marketo Instance!

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