In this edition of Marketo Master Class, Marketo Champion Chelsea Kiko takes a deep dive into the process behind building a Center of Excellence (CoE). Chelsea covers various considerations for building a CoE in both a fresh Marketo instance and existing instance, among other tips and best practices. Read on to discover how to build and maintain your own CoE, from implementation to long-term execution.
1. What are the benefits of setting up a Center of Excellence (CoE) within Marketo?
Setting up a CoE in Marketo is great for consistency, accuracy, and scaling your Marketo instance. CoEs typically contain programs that are often repeated and have the same type of operational steps. Users can clone these to create their own programs, which provides easy access to high-quality programs and scalability for your strategies. The other great aspect about a CoE is it can be built by an expert (either internal or external) and used by new users in the instance with the same type of consistency across the board. This also saves time and increases efficiencies for your team.
2. What are the essential components of a CoE? What are aspects will vary based on use case?
The first essential component of a CoE program or folder is a naming convention. This is one of the most important pieces in my opinion for CoE programs because when programs are cloned out, the naming conventions are automatically adopted. You should set up naming conventions for all assets, including emails, landing pages, forms, smart campaigns, programs, etc. Having uniform naming conventions for each program is vital to keeping the instance clean and consistent even when various users are working in Marketo. As you can see in the above screenshots, everything is ready to go, even sample email naming conventions. This is all pre-canned so you can clone, update, and have a program done much quicker than if you were creating from scratch.
Next, it’s key to build out templates for any operational programs you want to run. This could include programs to: change program status, increase lead score for specific programs, sync to your CRM, send alerts, etc. Once you have them built in your CoE, they are ready for you to edit or optimize for each program right away.
Finally, it is helpful to create templates or template styles for specific programs in your CoE. Once you clone the template program and the modules or email layouts are ready, all you have to do is edit tokens or change content/swap images. Even though modular email 2.0 templates are easy to use, it still saves time to have the right modules and layout of your email ready for cloning, especially if it’s an event or nurture program where you have several emails.
Be mindful of the fact that when you’re building your CoE you will probably be using different program types. In the screenshot below, there is an email program for a one-time send, a basic nurture program, a more advanced nurture program, and a live event.
The aspects of the program templates that will vary based on use cases will be your tokens, operational programs, list arrangements, and reporting. If you have the structure set, changing these aspects is quick and easy. You can easily adapt your programs by editing your CoE program templates, allowing you to scale your instance.
**Tip: If you are an agency or consultant, it really helps to have operational programs in the CoE. You can even create these in your sandbox and import the programs into any of your clients to help them with data normalization, lead scoring (customize it on the client), deliverability programs, etc.
3. What are some best practices for creating a CoE in a fresh instance of Marketo vs. building a CoE in an existing instance?
Creating a CoE within a fresh instance is definitely a different strategy than building one in an existing instance. Both have their pros and cons but let’s start with the fresh instance. When you are new to an instance, sometimes it’s hard to decide what your CoE programs will be. What we normally do for clients is:
1) Host discovery sessions to see which programs they are envisioning
2) Map the programs out beforehand
3) Show the internal stakeholders or clients to gain approval before we build
This helps us ensure they are on the same page. Also, having a visual of how your CoE operates is a great training and educational tool to those stakeholders outside of the system who don’t need to know the details of the Marketo instance, but need to understand how it works.
For an instance that is already in use, it is important to measure first then determine what the CoE will contain. For example, are there any programs that need to be refreshed or changed? If so, incorporate that in your CoE. Check to see what programs are built over and over again and standardize these for your CoE so people can just clone a single template program and update minimally. This makes the CoE useful for each Marketo user and guarantees you’re looking at real data in your instance as you build your CoE out.
4. How do you recommend aligning with key stakeholders when planning out the CoE?
When aligning key stakeholders for a CoE, you don’t necessarily need to dive into the weeds of how it will operate in Marketo. What I normally do is map out an example program for them to understand and align it to their business needs.
For example, the screenshots below show a template map I put together for a healthcare client where the stakeholders own the cancer service line. The first image lays out the process template that would live in the COE, including a landing page and three different email streams for three different messaging focuses they could include for that line. The second image lays out a customized program that was cloned from that process template. You have to alter your message for which stakeholder you’re educating. Normally if it is a marketing manager, who won’t be spending much time in Marketo, mapping out higher-level strategy is the best method to get them on board.
5. What is important to consider when rolling the CoE out to your teams?
Make sure you host trainings for your Marketo users. Usually I have the flow maps ready and then host live trainings where I go into the instance and demonstrate how to clone and update certain programs. For example, you don’t need to train an event manager (who owns the Marketo event programs) on how to clone a nurture template, because it’s not relevant to their work. Customizing your training to your users is crucial for the success of your CoE.
6. How do you set up processes to maintain that CoE over time?
Setting up processes to maintain the CoE is important for the long-term health of your instance. Normally the Marketo expert/admin should bear the responsibility of updating and maintaining the CoE. For example, let’s say your Marketo users keep cloning a nurture template but are adding more operational programs and emails to it, that should denote a CoE change. Your CoE should always contain the most updated programs that are ready to be cloned for your team. Sure, customization is always going to be added, but if the same programs or emails or reports are being added time and time again, it’s time to refresh your CoE. Lastly, I recommend taking a quarterly look at your CoE – maybe you added a new reporting feature in Marketo that you forgot to take into account in your templates, or maybe you’ve altered your webinar strategy – all of those changes need to be audited and monitored in the CoE.
**Tip: when building out your CoE, always use the description field to explain what each program does. This ensures success and helps train Marketo users on each of your CoE programs. Example below.**