How to Build an Engagement Nurture System

Level 10 - Champion Alumni
Level 10 - Champion Alumni

This post will cover how to think about the Engagement system. I've discussed this a bit before in Discussions, but not in its entirety. This is an ideal post if you are considering Nurturing for the first time or have built one Engagement and are not satisfied with how you did the setup.

I am aware that Sirius Decisions has a slide or two for its clients which has a similar framework. It just so happens we came up with similar concepts. Here we will focus on how to do this in Marketo Engagement Nurtures.

Before you begin to build anything in Marketo, first, go through this framework. After you have this sketched out, then you can use the Content Grid and Stream-Stage framework to place content into your narrative structure. Only then can you build it in Marketo.

What this isOther thoughts

Who can enter the nurture?

When can they enter?

Which existing leads can enter (Batch)?

Which new leads can enter (Trigger)?

Schedule of entry

Criteria to enter

How often?

Goal - Good ExitWhat is the goal of this nurture? This could be to get to MQL, SQL, Opp, or just move to a more specific nurture program.What will you do when they reach the Goal?
Bad Exits

When do we stop nurturing if they do not reach a goal?

Unsubscribe from these emails.

Becomes invalid for other reasons.

Stops engaging with content after X days or Y emails or whatever.

What will you do if they do not reach the goal?
Narrative Structure

Is this going to go through the Three Stages or something else? Do you want to follow Early/Mid/Late or Attention, Interest, Desire, Action?

I believe AIDA works better for a very long run or a very short ecommerce nurture.  Tell your story in the most appropriate way for your business.


How often will you send content? Will you accelerate content as the lead moves to new streams?

(If you want variable wait times between emails, please consider using a standard Drip Nurture with Wait Steps instead of moving leads between Streams).


What do you want to track here?

Your decisions here will impact how you setup the Channel Program Statuses (yes, you can edit these or make new ones) as well as any other reports you make. I strongly urge you to consider Statuses by Entry, Good Exit, Bad Exits in addition to other metrics Marketo can offer.

#leads entered

#leads at Goal

#leads at Bad Exit

#leads by Status


Opps and Revenue Influenced?

The Flowcharts

Please begin all of this on a whiteboard and then translate it to a flowchart tool like Visio or Lucidchart. Many marketers have bright ideas about the triggers and stream transitions, but find it difficult to structure it becuse they never mapped it out. Do this.


Data and Metrics

Many marketers also forget to build in ways to track their success over time. Marketo has some cool tricks to doing this, but it requires a bit of though and a few workarounds.

  • Use statuses to track total counts - you can create any nurture channel you want and add Statuses based on Goals and Exits to know how well you are doing overall. Make sure that you add a Status Trigger campaign folder and the appropriate triggers inside the Nurture which will listen for the criteria to change the Status.
  • Use an Empty Stream for Good Exit and Bad Exits. Simply moving a lead out of the Engagement will lose all the data and email history for that lead. First, move the lead to an Empty Stream (so they stop getting emails) and adjust their Status accordingly. Then you can use the Status and Stream counts to watch the success.
  • Decide if you want to track each email as a Success Touch or just use the Good Exit Status as a Success. This matters if you rely on Revenue Cycle Explorer and Multitouch (MT) attribution. Do you want each Email getting credit for advancing the lead or just the entire nurture. Marketo suggests each email, but I don't necessarily agree.

Use Tables to Help Structure the System - Measure Twice, Build Once

Before you attempt to build this in Marketo, use a series of Tables like this to structure your plan.

StreamStream 1: EarlyStream 2: Mid Stage
CadenceTwice a month on Tuesdays at 6am PDTOnce a week on Tuesdays at 4pm PDT
ContentGeneral information about Marketing Automation and Pain PointsSolution to pain points and how some people solved it.

Then you will want to create a table to match the smart lists and campaigns to setup. Here's an example of a foldering structure I use.


This is not the end of your journey. In fact, I urge you to read a few of the great resources here on the Nation before you start your nurturing workshop. Good luck!

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