I think what you're looking for would probably be webhooks. These will allow you to get data from external sources.
You'll want to have someone familiar with webhooks to help build them if you've never done it yourself.
I'm curious what you have in mind when you say reference external data and build a campaign on those values.
Do you mean to pull that data into flow steps for example?
I don't think you'll be able to get around creating fields in Marketo. Even with webhooks for example if you want to use the data you receive back, you need to map the response to fields in your Marketo schema.
However knowing a bit more about your specific use case could help see if there are work-arounds.
Hi Justin, John,
Thank you the feedback.
A use case would be for if we have customer data on ex. “ amount of product usage” and to trigger an email campaign based on the value. However, this value is not currently stored in Marketo. In addition, there are other various other attributes and values that we would like to trigger campaigns as well.
There may not be a way to avoid creating new fields for these.
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Jodie, the expression "trigger an email campaign" suggests you want to listen for Data Value Changed events. Thus the value needs to be some kind of Marketo field.
While it's theoretically possible to use methods like a "sentinel" score field that you increment when you want to trigger a campaign (thus your webhook can use aggregate logic without having to return individual fields to Marketo), you can lose reporting and transparency this way.
Basically, the only time I'd say you don't want individual fields in Marketo is if they're meant to function for display only or as some other kind of opaque "data transport." For example, say you want to combine all the fields from a form into one big textarea so they can be used elsewhere (maybe in SFDC). As long as you're never going to be inspecting/triggering on a single field-inside-a-field, it's safe to wrap them into one field. Otherwise, use individual fields.