I'm on my 2nd Marketo implementation; and although there are many in the nation who have implemented Marketo many more times than this (along with many tips) I wanted to share five which I think will make a real difference to our instance moving forward. Not claiming any original thoughts here! Just sharing our thoughts and experience.
A little background; my first implementation was about 10 years ago, we were probably one of the first EMEA customers for Marketo. Naturally, having just spent a fair chunk of that year's budget on the platform there was a fair degree of pressure to show some results and ROI - so we pretty much just did the onboarding (3 x 2 hour webinars as I remember) and started, we ultimately had to rebuild certain aspects so this time around I wanted to make sure that those lessons had been learnt.
In that first instance the Marketing Operations team (we grew from one to five) did everything from operational campaigns through to email creation - so much so that we didn't even allow the Marketing team access to the platform so that we could limit errors. When you have the resource to do that you can make those decisions, but in this second instance there is only me in the team and in the first few months of trying to replicate that model of supporting a marketing team of 5 people it became pretty clear I was just going to be a bottleneck. We also realised we had to move platforms from the incumbent to Marketo - as much to do with scalability and efficiency in program production as to do with features or analytics.
So, in no particular order:
1. Dedicated Marketo/SFDC sync user
OK, so this one costs actual cash, so you might have some extra justification to do here. Also takes a bit more time to set up but easily worth it in the long run. The main reasons I like having a dedicated user are (a) you can more easily track what has been updated in SFDC by Marketo which can be very useful when troubleshooting and (b) you can limit which fields the user can see more easily (I recommend using the Minimum Access Profile plus a permission set). First time around we used my own user, which as an Admin meant pretty much everything synced across. I know this makes a mess of the UI and means the duplicate fields in SFDC that no one uses anymore now also confuse your Marketo users (until you hide the hundreds of fields you don't need) . Plus syncing all that data you don't need? That's got to take longer than necessary.
2. Program Templates
I've seen many posts on the value of templates, so I doubt anyone is particularly shocked on this one - the ability to clone a program is without doubt one of Marketo's best features. You might be thinking that all platforms do this - trust me they don't. Cloning programs saves so much time it is ridiculous, and in an environment where one (or a few) MOPS crew are supporting many marketeers it's really the only option to keep production at a good pace. Spend your time working on the template; which assests are needed, which smart campaigns and so on and then work with the teams to update and improve those over time - you'll add a lot more value enabling the team than actioning every program for them.
In my first experience starting out with Marketo it was simply a case of copy/paste content (through a notepad of some sort of course) to get emails and landing pages out the door - I mean, who wants to keep learning about how the platform works when there's a new PPC campaign to launch? But over time, and especially when you have marketeers building out the programs, you want to make it easy for yourself and them. Editing emails and landing pages isn't necessarily difficult but it's much easier to train users on editing tokens and much easier for them. Don't forget little gotchas like the email stays approved and rich text tokens display the HTML in the text version! (we use shorter basic text tokens for the text email). You'll need to have a sensible folder structure as well so you can use the same token in all child folders that make sense. e.g. we have a token for email address, so there is a folder for each region, under which sits the programs for that region and the email always comes with the right person as sender (you can of course overwrite this if needed!). Once you're using tokens, make sure you look at Snippets as well.
4. Invest time in Segmentations
I LOVE smart lists - so easy and quick to set up and they can be used multiple times. But like most things that look easy there is going to come a reckoning; for us we found this when we started nesting smart lists. For example, we smart lists for regions, personas, different targets and so on. Then our email campaigns would simply reference the smart lists we wanted - but as the database grew and the complexity of those smart lists increased we noticed a significant slow down in smart campaign execution - not great when you're sending out a webinar invite! So yes, invest some time in segmentations, not only do segmentations update pretty much instantly when data changes you can also guarantee that a person will only be in one segment (you can be on multiple smart lists) and you can also take advantage of dynamic content.
5. Naming Convention
Organisation in Marketo is fundamental to make sure you don't go insane trying to find "stuff" and your reporting makes sense. It doesn't really matter what the convention is, as long as its simple enough for everyone to understand, but you should look at some of the best practice on this; just search for "naming convention" - there are plenty of articles, you should probably include something abut type, region/product, date and title. If you are an SFDC user, I would recommend working with your SFDC Admin on an automation to generate the campaign name in SFDC; then when the MKTO program is built the user just has to copy the name across to maintain consistency.
I hope this is useful - by no means exhaustive so take some time to think through where you want Marketo to be in 12 months time before starting; discuss the strategy and vision for the marketing plan as a whole with your peers. Then remember Marketo is basically a toolkit - you'll be amazed if you start with a desired outcome, rather than "what does it do" and then work out how to get there.