Bring Order to Marketo with Naming Conventions

Anonymous
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Are the names of your programs all over the place? Are you constantly trying to find programs but forget what you called them? A poor marketing naming convention strategy is kind of like stuffing tons of random stuff in your junk drawer–eventually things are going to get messy. If your company is using naming conventions like “Tradeshow LA, Feb 2015,” it might be time to reevaluate your strategy.

Naming inconsistencies reduce reporting effectiveness, cause marketing inefficiencies and reduce marketing automaton power.

Today, I’ll dive into some steps you can take to get your Marketo instance back on track. You must be super diligent to follow the same process EVERY time.

The Trouble with Naming Inconsistencies

Let’s first look at where things tend to go wrong.

Multiple Users

Sometimes, multiple marketers within your organization name things differently. For example, maybe Joe named last year’s annual event “Joe’s Texas Event 2015″ while Karen named this year’s “Trade show-Dec-Dallas?” This kind of naming will drive you nuts when it comes time for analysis. Once you develop the strategy, make sure your team becomes naming ninjas—otherwise, centralize program naming with your marketing ops group.

Different Formats

Forget about analysis for second. What about trying to find these marketing activities in the Marketo? Was it named “trade show” or “event?” Is the event in a month-letter format (Oct) or month-digit format (10). Lastly, marketers lose flexibility to trigger different activities based on the name.

A Few Inconsistent Examples

  • Event_Oct_2015_Europe
  • Trade show, November 1, 2015
  • John’s tradeshow-Speaking 2014-10
  • Tradeshow NYC, 2015
  • Minn Executive Conference, 10/1/2015

Why is Naming Important?

I’ll get to the actual naming convention strategy later in the article but here are a few reasons to consider adopting a consistent naming process.

1) Gain Better Reporting Insights

Consistent program names make analysis and comparison easier. For the spreadsheet whizzes, consistent naming enables advanced filtering to gain custom insights.

BEFORE: Example without a strong naming convention

Comparing different Marketo programs like website and events is difficult as marketing activities are blended together. When you add in other channels, analysis can quickly get out of hand quickly.

AFTER: Example with a naming convention

When you have a naming convention, you can easily distinguish between marketing activities and compare results. Answer questions like:

  • How did our events perform vs our roadshows?
  • Which website assets are being downloaded most?

Answering these questions with the previous model will give you a headache when you are trying to compare hundreds of programs.

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2) Streamline Marketo Management

No need to get frustrated trying to figure out if the program is called “Tradeshow” or “Trade Show.” Use a naming convention to cut down management time by easily finding and sorting assets.

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3) Build More Powerful Programs

When names are standardized, marketers gain the flexibility to build more powerful global programs by leveraging the consistent naming. A few trigger examples:

  • If a lead clicks a link in a program starting with “NUR-Early,” then transition the lead to the mid-stage nurturing track.
  • If a lead reaches success in a program that includes “-WP,” also add the lead to the Whitepaper Asset program.
  • If a lead’s Last Lead Source contains “-Trial,” boost the lead’s score by +75 points.

Action for You - Adopt a Naming Convention

The below convention is one of several you can adopt within your organization for program level naming. These conventions enable organizations to quickly search for similar assets, programs, etc. while allowing for users to sort programs chronologically.

Once you settle on a convention, start to change the names of your existing programs to reflect the new naming. Obviously, make sure the name change doesn't affect any existing campaigns.

The Program Convention………….

[Abbreviated Program Type]-[4-digit Year]-[2-digit Month]-[2-digit date]-[Program Description]-[Location or Content Type]

Optional for larger organization is to add the program manager’s initials at the end. You can also add other items like target audience and Marketo program ID if applicable.

Examples:

WB-2015-10-15-The-ABCs-of-Marketing
A webinar in October on The ABCs of Marketing

WS-2015-10-Best-Practices-WP
Best Practices Whitepaper published on the website on Oct 23, 2015. Note that the day of month is not included as that level of granularity is probably not needed for a content asset. Of course, if you want it, add it in.

RS-2015-12-10-Get-Productive-Dallas
Roadshow in Dallas in December 2015

OA-2015-Q4-Tech-Target
An online advertising campaign for capturing leads in Q4, 2015. If you budget advertising on a quarterly basis, you could elect to change the month format (10) to a quarterly format (Q4). If you go this route, ensure all OA programs leverage this naming.

Do I Need the Dashes?

Dashes are optional but I like to use them in conventions. Or, use underscores.

Why? The first reason is improved searchability. It’s a lot easier (and more accurate) to type “CS-” within Marketo and find all your case studies. A pure “CS” search would pull up other assets like “The ABCs of Marketing.”

Advanced. The second reason is to build consistency with your lead source strategy if you are using URL parameters to populate Lead Source data. This assumes you are using similar names for your Lead Source Strategy which I presented at Summit 2014. When these values are also used as part of URL parameters that feed Lead Source data into the system, a dash or underscore is needed--blank spaces in links can sometimes wreak havoc.

            Example: info.yourcompanyname.com/landingpage.html/?ls= WS-2015-10-Best-Practices-WP

What's up with this Funky Date Format?

Get your brain thinking a little differently.

Americans like to use the 12-22-2014 format while Europeans like to use the 22-12-2014 format. So why use this 2014-12-22 format? One word–sorting. By using the 2014-12-22 format, all of your programs will automatically put themselves in chronological order with no extra work by you.

On a totally different note, I've started using this date format for pics I take with my camera as it helps me sort through the thousands of pics I take over time.

Don’t Let Your Names Spiral out of Control

To summarize, make sure to choose a naming convention that meets your organization’s goals. The biggest piece of advice I can give—be consistent.

I’d love to hear what conventions you are using so please feel free to comment. What are you finding successful in your organization?

Other Resources

A special shout out to Josh Hill, Elliott Lowe, Kristen Malkovich, Dory Viscogliosi , Michelle Tiziani, Nicole Mossinger and others  who have provided a ton of tips on this subject within the Marketo community.

A few articles:

Why You Should Start Including Program ID in Your Naming Convention Kristen Carmean gives reasons why to also include the Marketo ID.

Organizing Marketo Database: Naming convention

Naming Conventions - Sync to SFDC campaign

Re: What are your best practices to insure consistency in usage and naming

28 Comments
Level 7

Fantastic post Jeff!

It's the basics that folks always forget.

Anonymous
Not applicable

Thumbs up. Naming conventions key!

Anonymous
Not applicable

I need to revamp our naming convention. It's getting harder to onboard new people with our naming convention [Region_Product_Campaign_YYYY-MM-DD] and is difficult to search. Thoughts on including the regional abbreviation (NA, EMEA, APJ, LAC)?

Level 10 - Champion Alumni

Thanks Jeff!

Naming and Organization is a topic near to my heart. This is a great system that everyone should use.

Level 7 - Champion

I have to admit to being a naming convention convert. I originally thought it was a bit of a pain, but after working with it for several months, I discovered I could find things so much more quickly and actually analyze the data in reports (instead of trying to figure out the name of the performing programs).

Anonymous
Not applicable

Great Post!!

To further vouch for this, we have our entire Lead Scoring model based on Marketo Program Naming convention!! Hence it's very critical for us to follow the rules and we strictly ensure that any new team member who have come on-board, really follow this process as it's super critical for underlying scoring.

Thanks for the great post Jeff!  I recently had to do some naming convention changes for our events department's programs. Now it's easier to look at in analytics.  

Anonymous
Not applicable

Thanks Jeff.

This is a good. We're running this on a more basic level. but you've taken it to an even greater level.

Level 7 - Champion

Great blog Jeff! 

I'm running a similar naming convention.  Mine goes: Name-Program Type-Date(YYMM)-Language-Project Number.  This seems to work but I like the idea of the asset up front, seems to make sense to me.  I'm trying to implement a newer naming convention and I think this combined with your insight is going to help greatly!

Level 6 - Champion Alumni

Great post Jeff!