Marketo Success Series: Event Programs

Marketo Employee
Marketo Employee

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, Marketo Champions @ChristinaZuniga and @Diederik_Marte4 teamed up to create a full deep-dive into how they are leveraging Event Programs.


What is an Event Program?

When you sponsor an event or run your own, you have different needs than when you create other types of marketing campaigns. Marketo offers a specific program type for events called Event Programs. 


Event Programs are usually associated with a particular day or range of dates when an event happens. You can always tell when you have the right program type because the icon is a calendar.


There are different events types that you can use Marketo to track.  For example, you might create a program for a trade show that you are attending or sponsoring so that you can record prospects you interacted with at your booth. Or, you might  upload a list of attendees for follow up action from your sales team. You might run a virtual event using a webinar platform and you can use a program to analyze who attended live vs. on-demand. Event Programs are used to track conferences that you’re hosting live, such as roadshows, annual customer events, or an industry roundtable. 


Running an event is stressful, but setting one up in Marketo is practically a day at the beach!


Why Use Event Programs?

Tracking offline activity like event attendance has turned most of us into Grumpy Cat at one point or another. How can we give credit to events if those activities and the resulting deals aren’t recorded?


In earlier chapters, you learned about different channels and program statuses that allow you to track what stage of a marketing campaign someone is in. For example, there is a vast difference between a prospect who has been invited to a webinar and one who actually attends the webinar. Event programs are tied to channels that are specific to events (trade shows, webinars and live events) and each of those channels has unique program statuses. Other program types do not have registration or attended statuses.


Ensure that all events your company attends or hosts are in Marketo with prospects at the right status so that you can run reports accurately.  Example reports include determining your best lead generation events or cost per lead. This setup will be invaluable when you get to the reporting and attribution chapter!


In addition, different program types provide access to different features. When you sponsor an event or run your own, you have very different needs than when you create other types of marketing campaigns. For example, when you run a webinar you want the webinar platform and Marketo to share registration and attendee data with each other so that you don’t have to perform uploads every day. Using an event program allows you to connect one webinar event to one Marketo event program and pass that data back and forth to each system. It’s important to choose the correct program type before you start building out assets and campaigns since you cannot change the program type later!


How Do I Set Up an Event Program?

Create a new program in Marketing Activities by right-clicking on the folder tree and selecting New Program. Then, a pop up will appear. There is a field called Program Type where you can specify that this program should be an event program.




From there, you can add folders, assets, lists, and smart campaigns! Having a program naming convention and standard folders can help keep things organized.




Webinars: Virtual Events You Host

Webinars are a great way to get live interaction from customers and prospects while delivering high-value content.  and  It’s also significantly less expensive than hosting a live event. Marketo has a number of webinar Launchpoint partners with easy integrations. Before investing in marketing technology, I recommend checking out Marketo’s Launchpoint partner page for certified integrations.


Connect Your Webinar Event to a Marketo Program

For every webinar you run in your webinar platform, you can connect it to one Marketo program. The systems will be able to send data to each other like registration information, a unique URL to log in, and attendee data. 

NOTE: the webinar platform needs to be integrated with your Marketo instance by an administrator first.


Create a new program and select Event for type and Webinar for channel. On the summary page, you can see that there is a field called Event Partner and it’s not set. That is where you’ll connect to your webinar platform.
NOTE: The webinar needs to be set up in your webinar platform first and you need to have the unique ID of that webinar. Instructions on how to get that information are dependent on the webinar platform you have selected.


Click on the link not set as seen in the screenshot below.





Select information from the drop downs based on your webinar platform. Then copy & paste your Event ID into the text box. If there are no options available in the drop down, ask your administrator to integrate your webinar platform.




Click Save.
NOTE: you can only connect one webinar to one Marketo program and you cannot disconnect a webinar event ID from a program once someone has registered, so be sure you’re connecting it to the right program!


Depending on the webinar provider, you might not need the  Event ID. You can directly select your webinar from a picklist (e.g. GoToWebinar)





Create a Landing Page to Gather Registrations

Most webinar platforms will provide a standard form and registration page for you, but they often do not allow for customization. Use a Marketo form and landing page for better analytics and personalization such as pre-filling a person’s data based on cookies or suggesting other webinars and content to consume. This also allows you more control over the look and feel of the landing page so it better matches your website. 


In earlier chapters, you learned how to create a form and a landing page. As a best practice, create one webinar form in Design Studio and use it as your registration for every webinar. This is called a Global Form and keeps your instance clean of duplicative forms. 


Your landing page should be located within your webinar program so that it’s local. This allows you to customize each landing page for your webinar. Insert your form into your landing page, include relevant information like the day, time, speaker info, and a summary of your webinar.



Helpful trick: make as many sections of your landing page as possible out of tokens. When you or your users clone a webinar from a template, they can add all of the information in the token tab (even the speaker picture!) without disrupting any formatting within the landing page.




Once you have your landing page completed and approved, the next step is to create the smart campaign that will change the status of anyone who uses your form to register so that you and your webinar platform know that they’ve registered to attend. If you don’t set up this workflow, Marketo, the webinar platform, and you will have no idea who has registered!


How to use one form for every webinar while keeping your landing pages unique: 

1) Create a new smart campaign in your event program

2) Select the FIlls Out Form trigger 

3) Select your global form

4) Click on the small filter button in the upper right-hand corner of your orange trigger called Add Constraint

5) Select the specific landing page that your form sits on




In the flow tab, add a step to change the status to Registered. Since your webinar event is connected to this program, when you change the status here, Marketo will send that information over to your webinar platform automatically. Voila! No upload needed.





Automatically Send Confirmation Emails

Once a prospect registers for your webinar, you want them to receive a confirmation email. Although most webinar platforms offer the ability to send emails, they often restrict your ability to customize beyond basic branding.


Tokens are invaluable in this type of program, but two, in particular, are my favorites. The first is the Add to Calendar token, which allows you to create an ICS file so that people can add your event to their work calendars. It’s easy to create in the program’s My Tokens section by dragging a new Calendar File to the tokens and filling out each field. 


In the description, section click the insert token button Will_Harmon2_9-1588371935621.png and find the {{member.Webinar URL:default=edit me}}. This is the custom URL generated by the webinar platform unique to each person. A great idea is to change edit me in the token to display “you have received an error, contact help@mydomain.com” so that if the token doesn’t render, the prospect will see your error message and can reach out to you! Normally you can’t put a token into a token (#Tokenception), but this is an exception to that rule. Another great idea includes adding links to knowledge base articles about common audio or technical issues. Save your calendar token. 





Once you’ve created your calendar token, you can add it to your email along with the custom URL link. 1)  Generate the token by selecting insert token Will_Harmon2_11-1588371935643.png in the email designer of the confirmation email

2) Highlight the text of the token and select Insert A Link and move the token you generated from the Display Text to the URL field

3) Add Display text  “Join Webinar Now!”


Normally you wouldn’t want your link to be a token (imagine inserting a first name token on accident!), but this is a special use case.




You can also insert your calendar token by selecting insert token



from the WYSIWYG editor and then searching for your particular webinar token. When it displays my.token name, that means the token is only for this particular program so you don’t have to worry about pulling in a calendar file from a webinar six months ago!





It’s like magic! Using tokens, including these two special events and webinar-specific tokens, helps you create a beautiful and scalable confirmation email!




Remember earlier when we created a smart campaign to process registrations? Let’s use that to send the confirmation email—two birds, one smart campaign! Remember, we only want to use the same campaign if we haven’t started processing registrations yet. If you have already turned on your webinar registration process, then you don’t want to add extra steps to your smart campaign because people won’t flow through it again and lots of people will miss out on your confirmation email! This is because a trigger runs based on actions that happen real time, not based on actions from the past. If you haven’t gone live with your webinar registration yet, then leave the trigger the same but add two new flow steps —a three-minute wait and your confirmation email. If you have problems adding your confirmation email to the flow step, make sure that you’ve approved it and always make sure to test first!


You add a wait step before sending the confirmation email to give Marketo and your webinar platform time to send information back and forth—Marketo has to submit the registrant’s information, your webinar platform needs to process that data and then create a custom URL that allows the registrant to enter the webinar. If you don’t add the wait step the two systems might not complete their sync before the confirmation email gets sent and the custom token  {{member.Webinar URL:default=edit me}} might be empty. Imagine the headache you’ll get when people start complaining that their custom URL didn’t generate!





This also gives you the opportunity to reject people since you can send yourself a notification instead and then only allow some people to receive the confirmation. This takes more set up and isn’t very scalable, but if you have a small group of registrants it can be feasible!

Webinar Examples

Dealing with Registrations Errors

One of my webinar nightmares is trying to troubleshoot registration errors while introducing the speaker at the beginning of the webinar. Luckily with Marketo, I can set up an easy notification to find out immediately if there is a registration issue, rather than during the event.


One of the statuses available in webinar programs is Registration Error. This status is fed to Marketo from the webinar platform when there is an issue. This error occurs when registration is completed, but the webinar platform is unable to process the information. 


I set up a simple email alert that references the contact information of the customer so that I can follow up and fix the problem. My smart campaign has a trigger in the smart list of Program Status Changes to Registration Error. You can restrict this to one specific webinar using the constraints filter.  I prefer to leave it open-ended so that I only have to set up one notification. However,  it scales to every webinar so  I can potentially  leave it running forever.


In the flow tab, add an alert notification. You can choose to send the email to the person’s sales rep, but why bother them unnecessarily? I make sure that I receive the alert along with the webinar specialist. In three years I’ve never seen a registration error, but having this notification running certainly helps me sleep better at night!


Collecting On-Demand Details

Whether you’re setting up a recent live webinar to run On-demand or have a stable full of older evergreen webinars, you can use Marketo to capture viewer information. You can use the same global webinar registration form, just change the landing page on the trigger’s constraint so that it’s referencing the On-demand page instead of your original registration page. You don’t want to accidentally label On-demand viewers as registered for an upcoming event! When the form is filled out prospects will go to a thank you page.It’s best to host your video on that page. You can easily insert a YouTube video onto the page using Marketo’s functionality. 

Your flow step in your smart campaign will change the program status to Attended On-demand. There’s value in separating our On-demand Attended from Live Attended so that you can report on your live numbers while still gather your overall viewing information. 


Manually Refresh From Webinar Provider
Different webinar providers give different SLAs on publishing attendee details in their APIs. Thus, it can take anywhere between one and 48 hours before Marketo receives attendee information. You can also manually check whether the webinar provider has the data available by clicking Refresh from Webinar Provider in the Event Actions menu tab on the Summary page of your webinar program. You might need to click Refresh on the bottom of the Program Summary page to see it reflected in the number of program members.





Trade Shows: Live Events You Do Not Host

Trade shows are vital to most industries and function as a great way to gather new leads. However, they can be expensive and time consuming for those who attend so it’s more important than ever to show the return on investment (ROI) and prove the value.


Always make sure to put in an accurate period cost into your program’s setup tab. The reports section will show you calculated fields of cost per lead that draw from the period cost!


Record Prospects Who Visited Your Booth

There’s only one thing worse than getting a handwritten list of leads from an event and that’s not getting a list at all! Whether you get your trade show list through a spreadsheet or have an API to a marketing technology, you’ll need to use Marketo to track which events your prospects came from.


In the Channel chapter, you learned which statuses indicate someone has reached success. Out of the box, Influenced is the success criteria for this channel, but I always change it to Visited Booth in my instance, because my organization agreed that it was a better indicator for us. 


If you are uploading your trade show list, add them to a static list in the program. Then create a smart campaign with a filter of Member of List. You can also upload to an Event Name field and filter off of it or have a marketing technology fill in that data for you.





Then update the program status in the Flow step. I also add prospects to a Salesforce campaign so that other teams can easily see through Salesforce reports which of their leads were at an event!





Follow Up with Prospects Post Event

After an event, it’s a good idea to reach out to the prospects you spoke with and offer relevant content or contact information for their sales rep. Set up a new smart campaign with a smart list of two filters. The first is saying that the prospects are a member of your program who is in the status ‘visited booth.’ The second is a smart list called Marketable Leads. This is a best practice that removes people who are invalid, blacklisted, opted out, or unsubscribed.  In other words, it removes people that are not valid or otherwise don’t want to be communicated with. Make sure to review the Marketable Leads smart list criteria in the Database view to ensure it’s excluding everyone it should. 





Trade Show Examples

One Time Email Send to Attendees

Some trade shows provide sponsors with lists of attendees and offer a one time email send to this list. Upload to a static list and set up an email asking people to opt-in to your communications. Once you send the email, mark all of the people on the list as Marketing Suspended so that they don’t accidentally receive other emails from you. You can even send the email and mark them suspended in the same smart campaign. 


Although most trade shows require you to remove the list if people don’t express an interest in your products and services, if someone opts into your list affirmatively you can keep that person’s information. Make sure not to sync the original list of prospects to your CRM unless they opt-in, that way you ensure that sales doesn’t start working them, which could muddy the waters when you remove them.


Once an appropriate amount of time has passed, delete all of the leads who did not opt in to further emails from you, easily keep the ones who have by adding a filter showing that they filled out an opt-in form. Remember to remove those opted in people from marketing suspended. 


Meeting Request Notifications

Trade shows aren’t just about getting people to your booth, it’s also about setting up meetings with hot prospects, especially in advance of the event. If you have a lot of demand for your time, first of all, good for you! Secondly, you can set up a form and landing page that lets your prospects request a meeting with you at the tradeshow to manage that influx. Send a notification to a scheduler so that they can set up a specific time with the prospect. Be sure to put the link to the meeting request form on your social media, a banner on your website, promote via email, and share it with your sales team so that they push it out to their most interested prospects.


Live Events: Live Events You Host

You shouldn’t use the trade show channel to track events that you host yourself because it has different statuses that won’t make sense in reporting. Live events aren’t confined to an annual conference you throw for your customers, it can include regional roadshows, industry roundtables, live training, exclusive VIP events, and more!


Reconcile Records Post Event

Cleaning up after a party isn’t fun, but it is necessary. After your event, you need to update statuses so that you can see who reaches success in your program and ensure it’s recorded for reporting. If you have an integrated event management software, this is pretty easy.  If you get a list quickly after an event you can set up a smart campaign to update the program status for those contacts. You learned how to do this earlier in the chapter, but what happens when you don’t get the list of attendees for three months? This is a frustrating situation, but you can set success in the past if necessary. 

Create a new smart campaign and add a smart list of the people that attended your event. The easiest way to do this if you don’t have an integrated event software is usually with an upload and a cup of coffee to keep you going. Create a filter that looks for people in this list.


If the data is fairly recent—my rule is anywhere in the past month, but you should set it based on your reporting agreements and sales cycle—then simply have a change program status flow step. If your data is older and you want the date to be more accurate, start with a change program success step.  Specify it is for success date and put the correct date in the past. This needs to happen first so that the success date is set before you tell Marketo success has been reached. 


If you tell Marketo that this group of people reached success by changing the program status first, it will automatically mark the success date as today. This order of steps helps ensure that the data will be correct. Then you set the correct program status. At that point, success date will already be set and won’t update to today, so your reporting will be more accurate.





Don’t forget to take the party poopers who skipped your event and mark them as No Show status This is easily done by marking everyone who attended to the right status and then taking everyone left in registration status and changing that to no-show 


Checking People In at the Event with the App
Install the Marketo tablet app and log in with your Marketo credentials. Make sure your administrator has given you the mobile permissions. You will see all the events in the past seven days and the next seven days. Make sure your event program has the date properly set and select the appropriate event. You will now see all the registrants in the left navigation pane. When handing out an attendees badge at the reception, find them and click the CHECK-IN button. If you have a good  internet connection, this will sync to Marketo immediately. Or you can manually click on Sync at the top as soon as you have internet access.. The Marketo program status will automatically be updated to reflect the change from Registered to Attended. You can even manually add unexpected attendees on the spot. Say goodbye to list imports and errors. You could even automatically have the slides send minutes before the event has finished.







See Your Influence on Opportunities 

Events are often one of the best channels to find hot opportunities and by keeping your prospect’s statuses correct in event programs, you set yourself up for success. In Analytics, there is a report called Opportunity Influence Analyzer that can show the detailed steps contacts take before, during, and after an opportunity. Before and after an opportunity the report is light blue, but while the opportunity is open it is green. It makes it easy to see interactions over time and you can combine steps from multiple contacts at a company to get a more in-depth view from the account level, or you can narrow it down to just one person’s experiences.


When someone reaches a success status, such as Attended in Live Events, the date they reached that stage is saved and then added to this report. It shows that even during an open opportunity, marketing has interactions and impact on contacts that support sales!




Live Event Examples

Live Attendance vs. Live Stream

What can you do when your conference sells out but there’s still high demand? Add a live streaming component for the remaining people who aren’t going to make it! We recently did this for an annual customer event but wanted to indicate the different type of attendees. I created new parallel statuses of Remote Registered and Remote Attended (check out the Channel building chapter to see how to do this).


Because you can make more than one status an indicator of success, both Attended (people who were there live) and Remote Attended (live streamers) reached success. By breaking them out into two different statuses, I’ll be able to track those numbers separately over time so I can show growth in each type.

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