Bring Order to Marketo with Naming Conventions

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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.


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.


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.


A webinar in October on The ABCs of Marketing

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.

Roadshow in Dallas in December 2015

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

Level 7

I like the 4 digit year, because it makes it immediately clear that it's not the day of the month. "16" could be year or month, and the next person may interpret the naming convention differently. I'm a big fan of short, but I'm an even bigger fan of fool proof.

Level 7

I would strongly advise against using underscores in any naming. Not only do they take more space than spaces or dashes, they are invisible when the program name is hyperlinked. In this case, the whole program name gets underlined, and you cannot tell whether you are looking at spaces or underlines.

Similarly, I would not use "dots" in any naming, as these are reserved as the separator between Program Name and Asset or Campaign Name. If you use dots in your naming, you may get into situations where it's not easy to tell where the Program Name ends and the Asset or Campaign Name starts.

Not applicable

I agree 100%. As I mentioned previously in my post, that is why I only use space or dash for separation.  Also, underscores could cause issues within other programs such as Google AdWords.

Level 10

yOu may want to vote here :

Not applicable

We are just starting to use Marketo and these are all great thing to keep in mind. Thanks!

Not applicable

Glad this helps Sarah

Not applicable

This is extremely helpful as we prepare to launch Marketo for the first time. I'm a planner by nature so this is just as meaningful as we plan out how to best implement from the start. Many thanks!

Level 2

This is awesome. Thank you for the tips.