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Arm your marketing team with knowledge - implement a Smart List Challenge at your organization.


What? Smart List Challenge: a competition (usually with prizes) to build a smart list based on a given scenario.

Why? Knowing and understanding your database can be the marketing team's greatest weapon. Data might be messy but it doesn't lie. Once your team knows the underlying data, the possibilities of Marketo are endless. You'll have less mistakes.


  1. Onboarding all new hires. This is one of the best ways to explain your database to experienced Marketo users and to help new users understand the terminology.
  2. At least once a year for the entire team. Not only is it a team-building exercise, but a chance to work on new and common uses for your instance, plus a refresher of infrequent but useful scenarios.


Let's get started with 10 basic, mid-level and advanced scenarios that I recently discovered were easily transferrable from one company to another with minor tweaks for your internal processes. The scenarios below are based on an integration with SFDC and use common (standard) fields and terms. Keep in mind, in some scenarios, there is more than one way to get the same result.


SPOILER ALERT: the answers are included right after the scenario.



  1. Login to Marketo
  2. Navigate to “Lead Database”
  3. Find/create the folder in group smart lists “~Training”
  4. Add your own folder with your name ie Emily Training


Basic Smart List Challenge - the minimum basic fields such as Unsubscribed and Visited Web Page

(I use this a chance to work on naming conventions for group smart lists)



1. All marketable leads (this could be complex to meet your own requirements or the minimum fields to get an accurate send list)


2. Have been to our website


3. In Industry Non-Profit, Telecommunications, Retail (or select three industries best suited to your organization)



Mid-Level Smart List Challenge - working on common Marketo functions such as program success and inactivity filters




1. Select all those who have been to our web site sometime but not in the past 30 days and are in SFDC



2. Select all Leads who became the lead status of “Marketing Qualified” more than 10 days ago and who are still “Marketing Qualified”



3. Select all those who have reached success in a program in the last 90 days and have an opportunity created this year.



Advanced Smart List Challenge - it's time to introduce advanced filters




1. Any prospect who hasn’t opened or clicked an email in X program in the past 90 days. (This works best for an email program such as Webinar to use the "Starts with" filter for the email names)



2. All leads who’s Rating became A in January with a Behavior change in February



3. Random sample of SFDC Leads in QC, FL, Los Angeles (Ok, so this is a trick scenario as you cannot have advanced filters with Random Sample. But this serves a dual purpose as cities, states and countries are a common campaign request and learning the field value standardization is important and you can introduce "Member of.." filters.)



4. Leads created in the last 90 days that are SFDC Leads with an activity logged by a Sales Rep (one of my personal favorites for those with an SFDC integration is using Activity filtering)


If you have a challenge to share with the Community, please post it below!

The Marketo renewal is a process the majority of us have to deal with every year. Usually we dread it, and with luck get through it without any tears (or punches thrown). It's time to navigate that renewal with dignity!


Based on my experience, user feedback and a bit of insider information, here are 5 tips to successfully navigate your Marketo renewal.


1. Begin your renewal discussions early

Make sure you reach out to your rep at least three months prior to your renewal. Get on the phone to understand what the increases are this year, what upgrades you may need and how your budget aligns with your renewal cost. Depending on your internal process, you may be asked to provide competitive pricing to ensure you are within an industry benchmark. Plus, if your database is out of compliance, you will need time to remedy it.


2. Know your database Tier

Marketo Lead Management is structured in a tiered pricing system based on the number of leads in your database. You will need to check your current contract to see the Tier you are paying for. The definition of "leads" according to Marketo is any lead in your system that has an email, phone number or address. How do you find this information? It's on the Lead Database dashboard, but you need to hover over the component to see your entire database that you are billed on, instead of just Marketable Leads. If you are above your Tier, expect a hefty increase for your renewal and limited negotiation power until you can get your database into compliance. If you start your renewal early enough, you should be able to get the database down.


Known Database Tiers:

  • Spark:
    • 50K
    • 50K-100K (increments of 10K)
  • Standard:
    • 100K-250K
    • 250K-500K
  • Select
    • 500K-750K
  • Enterprise Edition beyond 750K


3. Dealing with your brand new Account Manager

As is typical with a growing technology company, your account rep from year to year is ever changing. It's hard to keep a rapport going when your account rep at every renewal cycle has only been with Marketo a month or two.

3 tips for the revolving Account Manager door:

Use the Contact Us form on if you don't know who your rep is or are getting 0 response from what you thought was your current rep. There is an SLA around their Contact Us form, so you will get a phone call from someone at Marketo within a couple hours and they will be able to look up your current Account Manager.

Keep all your communication records from your past renewals. Since reps change each year, they may or may not have access to the notes you discussed 10 months ago about getting more training sessions included in your renewal this year. If you have a record of these communications, you can easily discuss them with your current rep.

There is hope! Word on the street is that the renewals team has a new leader in place and is looking to make this process a much better and more customer focused experience.


4. Bring in a Negotiator

Not everyone will need this, but it can be very difficult to negotiate your Marketo renewal. Many people have described the process at "take it or leave it" because Marketo knows it's painful to switch systems. For me, I'm deeply invested in Marketo personally. I have no interest in moving to another system and it can feel as though the Account Managers know this and give you little concessions for your renewal. Perhaps that's an overly emotional way of looking at it, but I have other systems that I can negotiate easily because the threat of replacing their system is real.


Luckily, I have an IT team that handle hundreds of technology renewals each year and know how to negotiate with Account Managers. Sometimes a little push back is all that's needed, but other times it has to do with getting add-ons or a lower year-over-year increase %. Bottom line is that if you're not very good at being bad cop, bring in backup. This could be your co-worker or your boss, as long as they can play that part for you.


5. Read the Contract

Yes, the last tip is to read the contract. It's not the most exciting read but make sure you do go over the contract before signing. Especially if you have been out of compliance on you database tier, check that there's nothing in the contract about automatically increasing your subscription.


As a final box to check off, ensure the contract has the list price, discount and quantity information by line item. It's nearly impossible to compare year over year if you don't have that information included.


Signing Off

Even though it seems painful, this is typical of any renewal process. There's usually a yearly increase that can be minimized with multi-year contracts and there's always a bit of room to negotiate. Going back and forth is important though, as it will save you money overall. Keep track of money savings for your records to provide to key internal stakeholders. You never know when you can use that bargaining chip to get a Marketo add-on!

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