Optimize the Marketo Program

Level 8 - Community Advisor

Optimize the Marketo Program

***Originally posted on "The Marketing Automation blog". For latest updates, follow this LinkedIn Page

For all day to day marketing activities in #Marketo, you start with creating a program. Marketo programs are very powerful tool to manage your marketing assets and track the campaign performance. To get most out of your Marketo programs you need to make sure you have set it up properly.

Programs represent a single marketing initiative. You can think of it as a container with all the stuff that you need to make the program work – these are called local assets and include landing pages, email, smart campaigns, and more.

Throughout my experience, I have seen ~20 Marketo instances and everyone had something good and bad. Based on my experience, there are a few thing that needs to be setup before even you click on create a new program button. In this blog post, I’m going to reveal some best practices and things you should know:

Program Channel

Whenever you create a new program, you have to select a channel. Channel here represent the way you are going to target your audience/prospects.

A program is one specific marketing initiative. The channel is intended to be the delivery mechanism, like Webinar or Sponsorship or Online Ad.

I have seen many Marketo instances where people had a long list of channels which included duplicate entries like Email, Email Blast, Email Campaign etc. and a number of channels that they don’t even use. I mean seriously!! If you do not have proper channels setup, it will ruin all your marketing efforts. At end of the quarter and year, when you start looking at the marketing performance by channel, you will not be able to analyze it. If you want your life to be easy, make sure you have a clean list of channels available.

Learn More: how to setup Program Channel?

Program Status and Progression

Along with channels you have to make sure to have meaningful and unambiguous program status defined for each channel. The best way to define statuses for a channel is to look at the user journey on that channel and what is the expected out come. The different stages of the user experience will be your program statuses and the outcome/ final status can be defined as the success of your program.

Before defining the status, define the customer journey for that particular channel. Once you know how your prospect will transits through your campaign, you will know what stages you wanted to track.

In addition to defining the statuses, you have to assign a weightage to every status. By assigning the weightage, you make sure that any user can’t go backwards the user journey by accident. This weightage in Marketo is called “Step”.

The Step number is used for sorting of program statuses. Keep in mind that people cannot go backwards in these progression steps. They can only change status to a higher or equal value status. Use the equal values when statuses are intended to switch back and forth as opposed to a progression.

Learn More: how to define status and steps on Marketo Channel

Program Tags

The other vital thing to be considered while planning the program setup are the “Tags”. Tags are necessary for reporting purpose. You can assign multiple tags to a program. You can tag a program by country, region, segment, financial year, Marketing team etc.

Tags will help you organize your programs while channels will assist in gathering data for reporting purposes.

Learn More: how to setup custom program tags?

Period Cost

Period cost is necessary to calculate the ROI of your marketing campaign. You can define different cost for different time period for the same program in Marketo. This allows you to measure the ROI of your program over time.

A period cost is the amount you spend on a program. It can be for one or more months and is used for reporting ROI.

With program cost defined, you will be able to measure following by program, by channel and/or by custom tag:

Cost per MemberAverage cost per member of the program
Cost per New NameAverage cost per lead acquired by the program
Cost per SuccessAverage cost per lead who achieved success in the progression of a program
Cost per Success (New Names)Average cost per lead acquired by the program AND achieved success in the progression of the program
Program CostTotal period cost of the program

Tip: At the beginning of a Program, enter forecasted costs. Once the period in the Program completes, you can edit the Period Cost and enter in the actual cost. This will provide you with accurate reporting results.
Learn More:
How period cost work in Marekto?
How to add period cost on Marketo Program?

Analytical Behavior

Analytics behavior defines which type of program will be available for the RCA reporting. Your Marketo Admin can define the Analytics behavior on the channel level and if needed you can override the same on program level. There are 3 type of Analytical Behavior:

  1. Default: With the default behavior, the program would be included in Analytics ONLY if there is at least one period cost, even one with zero dollars assigned.
  2. Inclusive: This option will ensure that the program is available for reporting in revenue explorer and analyzers regardless of whether or not you’ve included a period cost.
  3. Operational: This option results in the program not showing up in either revenue explorer or analyzers.

The Program Analyzer buckets Program Success by period cost. If there is no period cost available, Program Success will not be displayed, regardless of the analytics behavior of the program. If the analytics behavior is set up, data will display for opportunity metrics (pipeline opportunities, revenue won, etc.).

Learn More:
How to define Analytical Behavior on Channel level?
How to override Analytical Behavior on Program Level?

Program tokens (My Tokens)

If used effectively, my tokens on Program can be very useful and effective. These tokens help improving efficiency of the team and quick development of the program assets including Emails, Landing Pages, Forms, Smart Campaigns etc.

My Tokens are defined within a program and begin with ‘{{my.’ followed by the name you created for the token.

Marketo allows following type of tokens to be created as {{my. token:

  • Calendar File
  • Date
  • Email Script
  • Number
  • Rich Text
  • Score
  • SFDC Campaign
  • Text

Tip: You can define the my token on the campaign folder level and all the programs will inherit those token automatically. If needed, you can override those token on program level as well by creating a token with the same name and type on the program.

Learn More:

Token Overview
Working With My Tokens

Acquisition Program

Every business would like to understand where they are spending money and how that money is helping acquiring more customers. When working with Marketo Programs, it’s absolutely necessary to associate the new leads with the appropriate program as acquired leads.

Acquisition Program tells you which program actually generated a particular lead. This is very important if you are using RCE or if you rely on the Program Analyzer or Program Performance reports to measure your program success. Based on Acquisition program, Marketo

When a new name enters the system as a program member, Marketo automatically sets that program as “acquisition.” This establishes credit for First-Touch attribution.

The next question you might have in your mind is how to ensure every lead has acquisition program assigned? Well, marketo has an in-build smart list in database named “No Acquisition Program”. Check this list today and see how many records are there.

Tip: If you are seeing a lot of records in “No Acquisition Program” smart list, You have to fix it immediately. Check out my other post on how to fix acquisition program in Marketo?

Learn More:
What is a Program?
What is Acquisition Program?
How First-Touch Attribution work in Marketo?
How to Fix Acquisition Program in Marketo?


As mentioned earlier, Marketo programs are very powerful tool and will help you prove how marketing is generating revenue. If you follow the above steps, you will see improved program organization, improved reporting capabilities, improved team’s efficiency, and improved relationship between Sales and Marketing.


Re: Optimize the Marketo Program

Amazing write up Amit Jain

Karan Hari
Senior Product Manager - Marketo Engage
Level 8 - Community Advisor

Re: Optimize the Marketo Program

Thanks Karan!