Marketo Success Series: ContentAI

Marketo Employee
Marketo Employee

Welcome back to the Marketo Success Series!

In this series, we partner with Marketo Champions and Champion Alumni to fully explore how some of our most celebrated Marketo experts are using Marketo Engage to drive success. In this edition, we 
teamed up with Marketo Engage Champion @JD_Nelson to talk about ContentAI, what it is, why use it, and its specific elements. 



Introduction – What is it?


ContentAI is a supplemental add-on product Marketo provides to harnesses the power of predictive technology, performance indicators, and advanced algorithms to target end-users (viewers of your emails and web pages) with the most relevant and likely-clickable content available. Think of it as how Netflix or Amazon pick other items you may be interested in. While Netflix and Amazon have mostly perfected their processes, no one can claim to be near their standards, so let’s bring this back down into our relevant marketing universe: Marketo.


But what is ContentAI, really?


ContentAI is a way to turn static emails or web pages into dynamic ever-changing, always-engaging, living, pieces of content with the lowest amount of design, effort, or time required.


By inserting content and imagery into predefined areas of your website or email, ContentAI will predict and populate content based on numerous factors in an effort to maximize engagement.


Why Use It?


Being a marketer means always adapting, changing, and testing. It means finding what works, proving it, and expanding on it to its fullest potential. Marketing automation has helped alleviate the workload, and now predictive artificial intelligence is the next evolution. Let’s look at a real-world example that many of us have experienced:


Scenario A


The World as it is Today:

You have 10 pieces of collateral to support a recent initiative. You have a web page designed specifically for this initiative, but don’t have room for 10 pieces of collateral—nor should you. In order to find the best two or three  pieces of collateral, you initiate an A/B test. You put three pieces of content on the page, let it sit for two  weeks, then change the content and put the next three, and repeat the whole process again, and again. Again you wait. Now that you have an idea of which pieces work best, what about the order in which they appear? Do you test that as well? If so, now you take your winning pieces, and rank them against each other... three months later you have an idea of what pieces of collateral you should include.
Time & Effort Needed: 3+ months & 3-5+ hours of work to update pages every two weeks


Marketo Engage with ContentAI:

Using ContentAI to solve the same scenario is much different. After identifying the 10 pieces of collateral and coding the page to accept the Marketo information, the pieces of content will rotate through the areas of the page seeking optimal performance. No need to wait for results, no need to swap out content. To an extent the process is “set it and forget it”—but we all know you’ll need to update that content sooner or later!
Time & Effort Needed: Results in days or weeks, with ~45 minutes of work (assuming ContentAI was previously configured)



It works like this for email as well!


How to Set it up


As with any SaaS product, there is some setup to do before you can unleash the power of ContentAI. This primarily consists of:

  1. Inserting Javascript on your website (similar to the Munchkin code you already have)
  2. Inserting some code in the area of your site you want to publish the content
  3. Ensuring your emails are up-to-code and available to receive ContentAI (no special coding required).


Website Javascript Setup


From within ContentAI Account Settings:

  1. Simply click the Generate Tag link (your domain should already be set up as a part of the ContentAI activation process with Marketo).
  2. Confirm the Tag toggle is set to ON
  3. Copy/Paste that link to the header of your website and you’re done!
    You can also take a look at Marketo’s official 5-step walkthrough in Docs.



Deploying the actual content on your website requires a bit of planning. You’ll need to determine the kind of content you want, the layout, and any filters or customizing of the appearance that you may need. For instance, you’ll likely want to match your brand colors and text information.


First, there are two options to the layout you can use for your website, three-column or one-column. Three-column is great for the main body of your website, whereas the one-column layout is perfect as a sidebar. Here are some examples:


Marketo Example




Real-World Example




Marketo Example



Real-World Example




Secondly, there are a few appearance options to consider before you begin to create your code:

Font Family

Background Color

Font Size (both title & description)

Font Color (both title & description)

CTA (Color, Font, Background)



Once you have decided what content you want and where you want it to go, you’ll create your code. Use Marketo’s developer's site to determine which code layout is best for you. There are extensive examples and exact code you can copy/paste to make things easier.

*You are only enabled ONE category to choose from per location of predictive content. If you use a layout, like the one above, both pieces of content can only be from one category. While this shouldn’t be much of an issue it is something worth calling out. Most companies keep a category for “All” or something similar for maximum exposure.




ContentAI for email is much more straightforward. Since everything is within Marketo the functionality and coding is already set up. While you can enable ContentAI using either email Template 1.0 or 2.0, the preferred method is 2.0. Check out syntax coding requirements if still using 1.0).


From any 2.0 email, enabling ContentAI is as easy as right-clicking and selecting Enable ContentAI




Content Recommendation Bar

The Content Recommendation Bar is a thirdarea of ContentAI that is often overlooked. It acts as a small pop-up along the bottom of your website. Traditionally used as an information ticker or alert, ContentAI enables this area of your website to continue to promote content.


The setup for a Content Recommendation Bar is done through the Content Settings of ContentAI. You’re able to pick your colors, fonts and general appearance along with the URLs on which you want it to appear.




How to Use it?


The use-cases for ContentAI are plentiful. Here are some real-world scenarios and how ContentAI has been used:


Scenario B

As likely referenced in the email section of this ebook, event emails—particularly for repeatable webinars—are best done tokenized for scalability. Enabling ContentAI for email aligns perfectly with this use. Imagine running more than a dozen, or in some cases, hundreds of webinars per year. A tokenized email will swap out the relevant copy for each webinar without ever having to edit the email itself. But if you never edit the email, in the ContentAI world, any additional CTAs you have would likely be the same in every email. An end user that attends more than one webinar would begin to see the same content at the bottom of your follow-up emails and wouldn’t likely click on them more than once.


With ContentAI you can enable the content section of your email to change the moment your end-users open their email—each time seeing up-to-date content in an ever-changing order.




Scenario C

Blogs are often the most frequently visited page for many websites. The content stays fresh and is regularly updated, sometimes even hourly. Most people, however, are not checking every blog, every hour. They come back and may have missed 15+ blog posts since their last visit. It’s usually best practice to have an area of your blog that highlights certain key articles, topics, or takeaways that are more relevant to your users. Sure, you can hardcode this and hope it’s optimized, but why not use ContentAI?


Now you can have 10+ posts that are rotated each visit to ensure maximum visibility and performance.




Within ContentAI


Now that we’ve looked at a few examples of how to use our content, let’s look at what we do in Marketo ContentAI to enable/maximize these efforts.


There are four sections of ContentAI within Marketo:


    The summary tab is a look at all of the content found on the domain associated with your account. This includes which content is performing best, what the trends are for the past week or past month, and which categories are performing best by engagement. This includes a view for ALL content and a view for Predictive Content only.
    Just as it sounds, this is a list of every piece of content found on your domain. You’ll be able to approve content for use in ContentAI campaigns, as well as where you can assign categories to any *unknown content.


    Categories can be assigned automatically using URL Patterns in Content Settings. You can specify all content at /blog/ to be tagged Blog or anything under /event/ to be Event —if your website is configured in this manner it will save you considerable time with your category assignments.
    Once your content is approved for use in ContentAI , this is where you finish setup and enable content by source. This includes CTA text, Titles, specific URLs, as well as the different layouts by source type. ANALYTICS
    Don’t overlook the analytics section! This is a powerful, yet concise, dashboard of your content performance.


Predictive Content Setup


Ensuring accuracy is an important step for any marketing campaign. The Predictive Content section of ContentAI is where we do that. While we rely on Marketo to find most of your content, we need to make sure that content fits properly in our layouts, buttons read what they should, and even add more information than what we’ve captured already.


Each piece of content “approved for predictive” will appear on this list. By selecting each piece, individually, a section will expand for customization as well as final approval for campaign type [Email, Rich Media (Website), or Bar (Content Recommendation)]


Here are the first three pieces of content, with the second piece selected for customization:




The fields to update, by content type, are:

  1. EMAIL
    1. Title
    2. URL
    3. Button label
    4. Categories (these are predefined, but you can customize them further as needed for specific campaigns)
      **IMPORTANT NOTE: Make sure to review the eightf different layout options in the box on the left. When inserting predictive content into your emails, you will be asked which layout you want to use.
      ***None of the layouts work for your brand? Try this: Default all campaigns to Layout 6 and customize your image to include overlay text, CTA style & color to match your brand.
    1. Title
    2. URL
    3. Image URL
      Use a custom image as needed. Recommended: 235px x 175px
    4. Description
      This is additional information than what is found on your website. This information appears on your website, provided the javascript code you embed allows it
    5. Categories
  3. BAR
    1. Title
    2. URL




This will show you which piece of content is performing best, both by Views as well as Conversion Rate:



You’ll also see which content on your site is Trending (% of views in last 14 days as compared to previous 14 days):



Which content you might want to focus on other marketing activities around, based on performance, trend lines, and other factors in Marketo’s algorithm:


And more content analytics that gets into the location, industry, and visitor type of website visitors interacting with your content: