My.Tokens of Affection: Develop a Token Strategy You'll Love

Marketo Employee
Marketo Employee

Reduce Workload, Maximize Consistency (and Get Your Marketing Automation Geek On While You're Doing It!)

I think most of us are leveraging system-level tokens and lead-level tokens to personalize content for their prospects, and many are even using program-level tokens (aka "my.tokens") to further customize and make dynamic the content inside of their programs. But some of you are taking it to the next level, placing tokens into folders into "waterfalls" of local and then inherited tokens that cascade into each program. See an excellent blog post on this approach here.

Why take this kind of token folder structure approach? There are a lot of advantages - just to name a few:

  • Reduce the amount of time spent editing or updating programs when shared information changes
  • Help "hold brand" for programs, ensuring that headers, footers, brand messaging and images stay consistent
    • Added bonus: by not having this inside your templates directly as text/imagery, you can make updates without having to re-approve templates (and all of their related assets)
  • Guided landing pages and email 2.0 templates make it deliciously possible to have just a few templates support multiple brands (with different imagery, colors, etc.) but without tokens, it can still require the user to know hex code or image URLs to swap out for their brand. Turn those into tokens inside the template, place the tokens in your brand's top folder, and your user doesn't even need to edit those!

Sounds awesome, right? But a little intimidating? It doesn't have to be - it just takes some time and planning.

Plan for your tokening

Grab a variety of the emails and landing pages you are leveraging today. Compare them and mark up what elements, if any, are shared across the assets - or could be with edits to layout and/or content. What is shared at say, the corporate level v. the brand level or channel level v. specific programs? (I find color coding useful for this.)


You'll almost certainly find that your highest-level headers and footers have commonalities across the board. But you'll probably find that content associated with certain brands and/or channel types also tend to leverage identical or nearly identical content - imagery, calls to action, brand messages. This is, in essence, your token plan.

  • What do all of your brands/products/services and/or program types have in common? Place these at the top level - things like corporate-level messaging, imagery, corporate-level color schemes.
  • How do you organize your brands/products/services in terms of how they face the customer; or does your face-to-the-customer take a more regional approach
    • Does a brand or region have a specific color scheme, imagery or even content (product A has standard copy always referenced). This may be your second level folding and tokening
    • TIP: Evaluate your tokening and folding from a customer-facing perspective, not necessarily how you are internally organized; tokening will be easier to "cascade" down through folders and programs in terms of how, where and why content is presented to the customer - you'll see more opportunity for commonalities and where the differences are
  • Within a brand/product/service, do you have programs that always tend to utilize the same type of content, flow, etc.
    • You can consider folder-level tokening at this level too but this is also a great opportunity to create shell programs (i.e. program templates) that leverage the above tokens wherever possible to make things even easier
  • Bring in your designers and think about what you can token at the top level across templates - build in tokening for page/email imagery, color, footer boiler plate information - remember, by leveraging tokens built into the template, you can make updates to the token rather than the template.

If I can get a program down to two or three local or overridden tokens, with the rest cascading down from the folders above it, then a) I feel a real sense of accomplishment because I'm a total Marketo geek like that but b) I know that I've just drastically reduced the number of touches a Marketo user has to make to a program to get it out the door - that's a huge win.


I have seen Marketo programs go from taking 60 minutes to clone and edit to literally 10 minutes (including testing!) with use of tokens and shell programs that leverage folder-level tokening. That's a metric any marketing organization can feel good about!

In what other ways are you using tokens and how have tokens helped you optimize your marketing operations?