Marketo Forms - Which application is right for you?

Level 6

One of the biggest questions that we hear from our clients is how they should integrate Marketo forms onto their website.  There are several different options on how to do this, and each one of them has their own pros and cons. This post will focus on each option, so that you can make an informed decision on which one is best for you.

Marketo Landing Page + Form

What I really like about Marketo’s landing page editor is it enables Marketers who may not have HTML experience to be able to quickly and easily setup a landing page for their program. Some of you will be able to relate to this next comment, and those are the ones I would especially encourage to go the route of Marketo landing pages: no more waiting weeks for your web team to create a landing page for you, and then days for them to make edits once you’ve seen it live. I personally find that Marketo Landing Pages are the best option for any pages that require a form. They give you the most flexibility and control to do what you need to as a Marketer to succeed. They also give you the most benefits, like form pre-fill, conversion rate statistics and make it easy to integrate into scoring and triggers.

Marketo Form Embedded into iFrame

Now for some of you who have really great and responsive web teams, or who are running websites using WordPress or another user friendly CMS, sometimes this option can be just as good as Option #1. You don’t really lose a lot by using Marketo forms in an iFrame, other than A/B testing of your landing pages. So, you if have an awesome landing page that is optimized for conversion and its built in WordPress, then put a Marketo form onto this page using an iFrame and you’re good to go. There are a few customizations that you will need to make to make it responsive, blend into the parent page and open the follow-up page in a new window, but you can have Marketo forms up and running on your site in no-time.

Marketo Form Embedded using Embed Code

A lot of people, especially developers, were excited when the embed code came out as it made for an ‘easy’ way to post your Marketo forms directly into an existing webpage on your website. Although it makes the integration into your existing site fairly straightforward, it comes with several drawbacks. This includes the fact that your forms will not pre-fill with known prospects data, it is impossible to track conversion rates of your forms and equally as hard to track form submissions via smart lists. Until Marketo resolves these issues, I would not advise going down this path, even if it may make implementation easy.

Non-Marketo Forms Using Marketo APIs

Marketo has a number of API’s that can be used to either call or post data from. I have worked with some clients who will use these APIs to send data to Marketo when their non-Marketo form is submitted. This typically happens when there is another back-end system linked to the form that needs to spin up a trial account or send a confirmation email with third-party information. This can almost always be done using native Marketo forms and with the API’s pushing to these other systems instead of vice versa. Although the APIs are typically an option that are most sought-after when technical people are involved in the discussion, most of the time native Marketo forms with API’s calling information back and forth in the background can be used. Again, I typically do not advise using the APIs unless there is no other way to achieve the results required with native Marketo forms (and there is almost always a way).

Non-Marketo Forms

It’s one thing to use non-Marketo forms and then use API’s to send data into Marketo, and then it is completely another question when there is no communication method into Marketo. One client we work with did not want to use Marketo forms in case the Marketo servers went down or if they ever had to switch to another Marketing Automation vendor. However, they made sure that all data coming through their forms was passed over to Marketo via API’s and clearly indicated the source of all leads. They also integrated the munchkin API into their forms so even the non-Marketo forms could pre-fill and we could grab all the inferred information. Unless you are taking your non-Marketo forms to these lengths, then I would not suggest using non-Marketo forms. It is a lot of extra work just to get them up to parity.

Salesforce Web-to-Lead Forms

Please, just please do not do this. I have yet to encounter a good use-case for this. This is a recipe for creating a lot of duplicates and losing out on all of the great benefits that come from Marketo forms.

Here is a handy cheat sheet that you can use when thinking about which option to select:

Not applicable

Great article! What would you recommend in a situation where I want to have form fields on an interactive infographic page? I am working on a project where I am creating an interactive infographic in Adobe Edge Animate CC, but would like to add form fields to capture visitor responses and later send them their results.

Not applicable

Love the table - great resource in communicating the trade-offs with each scenario!

Good question Lee.

Depends if you are hosting that infographic on a Marketo or a non-Marketo page.

If it is Marketo, definitely use a native Marketo form by dragging it onto the page, and if its a non-Marketo page then use a Marketo form within an iFrame. Generally speaking, those would be the best ways to implement forms while still taking full advantage of all the great Marketo functionality.

Does that answer your question? If not, send me a link to your page so I can see what you're working with.

Not applicable

Great article! We're looking to employ content security policy, which is an increasingly common standard being pushed by Google and Mozilla as a solution to the common security issue of cross-site scripting.

Is there a configuration with forms and landing pages that complies to Content Security Policy? I assume there are, but have had little luck with support getting  a handle of our options here..

Pierce, can you clarify the point about not being able to use forms that use the embed code with the fills out form trigger/filter? We currently only have one form that uses the embedded code, but I'm able to use that form as both a trigger and as a filter within smart lists.

So the issue with tracking form with the embed code is if you use 1 form on multiple pages, which is what we always recommend for proper form management, Marketo cannot actually see which form is on what page when you embed it, so you cannot use the constraint on the fills out form trigger/filter to say x form was filled out on y page. Reason you want to have 1 set of global forms is that if you ever want to make changes, it is much easier to update let's say 10-15 forms as opposed to going into every program and updating every single form, which can be a nightmare.

If you're currently only use 1 form, the fills out form trigger will still work because its only looking for one form fillout and you're not worried about which page it was filled out on, but I would still recommend iFraming that form in as opposed to embedding it. It will be a better experience for your prospects and you'll get a higher conversion rate . I've also found that the embedded form does not properly set acquisition program, which I've been meaning to update the cheat sheet with.

Thanks for the clarification, that makes sense now!

Not applicable

Very helpful article! The one thing that is missing when you iframe a form onto a non-marketo page is the ability to use URL parameters to fill out hidden field values. Any suggestions for how others are doing this if you are sending multiple 'sources' to one website page?

Hi Aurora,

It is still possible to capture URL parameters on the parent page and transfer them into the child (iFrame) page and subsequent hidden Marketo forms.

Send me an email to and I can give you more details.

Not applicable

Hi! As some time passed since the article was written, is there any update regarding the issues with the embedded forms or still the same problems to be considered?