Welcome 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 to drive success. In this edition, we teamed up with Marketo Champion Alumni @Nicholas_Hajdin, who is a Digital Technology Manager at Accenture. Nick is an Adobe Certified Master – Marketo Engage Architect and has over six years consulting experience, guiding clients through complex Marketo implementations and optimizations.
Read Nick's blog below as he covers his best practices for creating programs in Marketo Engage, how to make sense of email program settings, creating an email program, A/B testing, and much more!
In this chapter, we will cover one of the fundamental programs in Marketo: the Email Program. Email programs in Marketo are designed to be your tool for email blasting, creating A/B tests, and tracking metrics all within one place. Use the Email Program when sending one-off emails such as newsletters, promotions, invitations, and reminders.
Best Practice for Creating Programs in Marketo
While each business has their own operational processes and rules for governance, it is a recommended practice to templatize programs in Marketo. A Master Program Template (MPT), oftentimes built as part of a “Center of Excellence” or CoE, is a great way to maintain a consistent and scalable program structure in your instance. Each time a marketer wants to create a new program, for example, an Email Program, she can clone the MPT that has an agreed upon structure.
Since Email Programs are straight-forward marketing initiative, the MPT does not need to be complex. A standard Email MPT may contain the following:
While creating MPTs for your Marketo Programs is a best practice to keep your instance standardized and scalable, you might find yourself needing to create an Email Program from scratch rather than cloning an MPT. We will review the steps needed to create a new Email Program in full detail throughout the rest of this chapter.
Understanding Email Program Settings
One of the nice elements of an Email Program is the Control Panel view. The Control Panel has four tiles that give you a quick look into your program settings:
Audience: Decide which leads will receive the mailing. Quickly view into the number of leads who will receive the email, as well as those who are blocked from communications. Also contains shortcuts to edit your smart list or import a new list.
Email: Select which email you want to send. The email must be a local asset contained within the Email Program. From this tile, you also control A/B test settings.
Schedule: Select the time you want your email deployed. From this tile, you may also enable Recipient Time Zone or Head Start settings.
Approval: Approve the Email Program. To approve your program, you must have a defined audience, an approved email selected, and the email scheduled in the future. From this tile, you will see the Program status.
Create an Email Program
Once you understand the basics of the Email Program, you are ready to create one in your Marketo Marketing Activities. The below instructions guide a step-by-step process of creating a new Email Program.
Email Program Actions
In the next few sections, we will cover the different actions available for the Email Program.
Defining Your Audience
The first step in controlling your Email Program is to define your audience. Edit your smart list using filters that meet your audience criteria. You may also import members into the program through the Import option seen in the audience tile in the program control panel.
Choose Your Email
Once you've created an email program and defined your audience, you will want to decide what email you're sending. You can create a new email from scratch or pick one that already exists.
To send an existing email, select your Email Program and go to the Control Panel view. Navigate to the tile that says Email and select the email you want to send. Only local emails are available. If you want to use an email that is part of another program, or in the Design Studio, you will either need to clone to your program or right click on the email, select Move, and move to your destination program.
If you want to create a new email for your program, you can also accomplish this from the Email tile in the Control Panel. Best practices for creating new email templates are covered in an earlier chapter.
A/B Test Your Email
The ability to A/B test your email is the most important functionality unique to the Email Program. A/B testing gives marketers the opportunity to test variances in their communications to see what results in higher audience engagement. Marketo makes A/B testing setup, control, and measurement easy.
Before A/B testing your emails, it is best practice to develop a testing plan. Do not aimlessly A/B test just to say you’ve tested something. Develop a hypothesis and test for several weeks until you have results you are confident in. Ideally, you are testing distinct variances, so you have a clear change to apply to your future emails. Once you declare your test findings as part of your communications strategy, you can continue testing.
Example Testing Plan:
Once you are ready to A/B test an email, navigate to the Email tile in the Control Panel. Note that when adding an A/B test, the selected email will no longer be available for use in any other program. If you need the email available to other programs, you will need to clone to the new destination program. Once you’ve decided to A/B test your email, you must decide what variable you will test.
A/B Test Settings
Once you’ve selected your A/B Test Type, it is time to define your Test Sample Size. Use the slider to choose what percentage of the audience you want in your A/B test and click Next. The different variations will apply to equal portions of the chosen Test Sample Size.
It is best to keep the Test Sample Size between 10-20%, allowing most of your audience to receive the winning version of the email.
Cautionary Note: If you're using a static list, setting the sample size to 100% sends the email to everyone in the audience and the winner goes to no one. If you're using a smart list, setting the sample size to 100% sends the email to everyone in the audience at that time. When the email program runs again at a later date, any new people who qualify for the smart list will also receive the email since they're now included in the audience. It is not recommended to set the sample size to 100%.
A/B Test Winner Criteria
After finalizing your test settings, you are ready to define the A/B Test Winner Criteria. The following options are the default criteria.
An open registers when images are downloaded into an email. Even if you don't include an image, by default Marketo inserts a single tracking pixel into all HTML emails.
By default, links in emails have tracking embedded in them allowing you to see who clicked which link, how many total links were clicked, etc.
Click to Open %
Percentage of emails that were opened and had a link clicked in the email. This measures the relevancy and context of an email by taking the number of unique clicks divided by the number of unique opens, and then multiplying by 100 to show it as a percentage.
The engagement score helps you determine the effectiveness of your content. If you pick Engagement Score the test will need to run for at least 24 hours.
You can also customize your criteria by selecting Custom Conversion and defining specific events using filters and triggers. For example, you may want to define Winner Criteria as clicking a specific link in an email. If you select this option, Marketo will only allow triggers for people who have been sent the email from this email program. No need to add a Was Sent Email filter.
Once you’ve selected your Winner Criteria, you must define how the winner is declared. There are two options: Manual and Automatic.
Schedule A/B Test
Once you have added an A/B test to an email program and defined the winner criteria, the next step is to schedule when the test begins. Send Test and Send Winner must be at least four hours apart. For larger sends it is recommended to wait 24 hours to allow enough time to get good results. From the schedule tab, you can also input email addresses to notify users of test results. Once you have all your test settings finalized and scheduled, select Finish to review a summary of the A/B Test details. Once you confirm everything looks good, hit Close and you’re A/B test is configured.
If for any reason you decide you want to edit or remove your A/B test, navigate back to the Email tile in the Control Panel View to do so.
Once your email is tested and the winner has deployed, you can view the performance metrics from the Dashboard view.
Schedule your email
Once you’ve selected your email, you are ready to schedule. If you opted to A/B test your email, scheduling is set during the setup. If you are not using A/B testing, you schedule the email for your planned deployed time. You have two additional scheduling features:
Approve Your Email
Now that you have followed all the steps and your email is ready to go, the final step is to approve the email. Navigate the Approval tile in the Control Panel and select Approve Program. If Marketo notices any issues, a notification error will prompt you to make changes before trying to approve again.
If changes to an approved program that has not yet deployed, you simply click Unapprove Program on the same tile. The email will not deploy until you reapprove.
Reporting Email Program Performance
Once your emails program has been deployed, it is time to report on the performance. Performance reporting helps you understand what types of emails and content your audience finds engaging, helping guide future strategic planning. You can leverage the below reports and information to measure the success of your programs.
Have any questions or comments for Nick? Let him know in the section below!
Great info. Love tokens they're so helpful.
Great specifics on the email program. I love the A/B testing examples!
Great post - thanks for sharing!
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