Amongst the 500 odd or so clients I have worked with, each new Marketo customer I’ve interacted with has an equal degree of excitement to get their Marketo deployment to be a booming lead-generation machine coupled with the anxiety that follows of there being a ton of things to take care of (marketing campaigns, lead scoring, lead nurturing, lead lifecycle, communication to sales and the list goes on).

Reporting and Analytics invariably makes it to the list of top priorities too. However, most marketers I have worked with are keen on reflecting on how effective their campaign was in the short term. Often times, this is the demand generation manager, who is keen on immediately using Marketo for e-mail campaigns, let’s say, and wants to show quick results. Now one of the challenges with this approach is that the definition of effectiveness varies, depending on the various roles you speak to. The demand generation manager – the person using Marketo on a daily basis — might be more interested in knowing the number of people who responded to their campaign, while the CMO might be more interested in how the various Marketing programs are influencing your company’s top-line growth.

In an environment where the focus for companies is mostly on driving growth, the ultimate criteria for marketing effectiveness is how your marketing programs are influencing pipeline and revenues. Paradoxically, many Marketo users don’t set themselves up initially to do that (and it’s important to start off on the right foot, as you’ll see below).

With that in mind, no matter what your immediate priorities are (yes, there’s always a webinar that needs to be done, and there’s always that e-mail that needed to get out the door yesterday), here are things that every new customer must absolutely think about and implement right from Day 0 of getting their Marketo platform. Whether you have Marketo’s Revenue Cycle Analytics platform on not, the following list will get you off to a magical start for when you’re ready to do Revenue Cycle Analytics (And yes, every client at some point should definitely invest in revenue analytics – at least through RCA, or better yet, with a predictive analytics platform like BrightFunnel):

1) Define the Channels That Drive Your Demand Generation Efforts

Take a stock of the various ways in which you promote your business. That’s exactly what Channels are. At the highest level, a company always wants to know which marketing medium generated the most pipeline and revenue. Are Tradeshows working better for your company, or are your media partners more effective at generating the awareness, pipeline and revenue for your company? Do your webinars influence revenue? Are any of your Social Media promotions revenue generators?

Whatever these various drivers are, make a list of those. Think of Channels as the broadest category of Lead Sources you’d like to report on. Marketo does have a list of some great out of the box channels, but think of any others you might want to add to the list. Example: You might need to add Content Syndication, Social Media etc.

You’ll always have situations where you’re promoting a new partnership, or a product launch or a critical new product feature through various mediums, and in those cases, you will indeed setup multiple programs (1 program for each channel) for that single promotion.

Not every single e-mail blast you do should have the Channel of Email Blast. Some of these could be invitations to events, invitations to webinars, etc. These e-mails should be parts of Programs with Channels Events, Webinar respectively.
Thinking about and defining your initial list of channels will ultimately help you answer CMO-level questions regarding whether to spend your 2014 marketing budget on events or online ads. If you’re the CMO, give your team enough time to think through these issues, to give yourself the option of accurately measuring results later on.

2) Configure Program Membership and Program Success Rules and Triggers

This is a new concept for 95% of new Marketo clients I’ve spoken to, the most overlooked one, and the most critical component for getting accurate reporting on how your marketing programs are influencing pipeline and revenue. If there’s that 1 thing you should be doing right from the first day of having Marketo, it’s setting up your Program Membership and Program Successes diligently and accurately as much as possible. If you do not put in the effort initially, it will be much harder to measure marketing effectiveness later on.

Here’s why:

When Marketo calculates whether a program influenced pipeline and revenue generation, it takes into account the timing of whether someone achieved success in a program before an opportunity was created or whether someone achieved success in a program before the opportunity was marked as Closed-Won. If someone registers for a webinar, say, and then turn into opportunity, and later revenue – while that’s great, unless you defined webinar registration as a “success,” it won’t show up as having influenced that opportunity.

In other words: you can’t really take a crawl-run-walk approach with Marketo. When you start crawling – for example, sending your first webinar invitations – you have to also plan for eventually running (in this case, solving the CMO’s pain point of planning marketing investments).

Don’t worry, this is a bit counter-intuitive for most people! I myself have been guilty of not setting up campaigns to track program success, because there’s always that e-mail that needed to go out last week for a webinar that is just 5 days out, and the attitude is: “let’s come back later and setup the Program membership and Program success.” But guess what – that never really happens, you forget to do it, and it’s a costly mistake in a world where each marketing dollar needs to be accounted for.

Marketo does give you the ability to go back and “fix” your data. Here’s the catch: It’s easy to fix your data when you only have 5 leads who achieved success in a program. In that case, you can go ahead and identify the date when each of them met the success criteria and fix the success data for those leads. But imagine having to do that for 1000 leads who achieved success in a program, that too on various days. To keep things simple, you could always run a campaign to say that these 1000 leads achieved success on April 15th, 2013 but that’s again an estimation and not the most accurate representation of which date someone achieved success on. Having an accurate view of such dates is essential to accurately do any kind of marketing attribution.

To summarize, ensure you’re setting up campaigns in which you’re tracking Program Membership and Program success diligently without fail.

3) Think Through Your Lead Lifecycle

There’s a lot of varying opinions on at what point do you have the Lead Lifecycle discussion. Lead Lifecycle is essentially accounting for the various stages a lead goes through from it’s inception to when the opportunity on that record (contact) gets marked as Closed Won or Closed Lost. While the correct answer to this is that you should be having this discussion sooner rather than later, not having the perfect lead lifecycle built out is NOT a show stopper in your implementation plan of Marketo. Lead Lifecycle might be a 2 hour discussion if you’re a small company with all processes in place or it could take months if you’re a multi-billion dollar with complex products, teams and processes (because the hard part might not be whiteboarding the perfect lead-life cycle. The hard part is the 100s of your team members adhering to the process that you just white boarded).

4) Avoid Marketo-SFDC Reporting Discrepancies

Amongst the companies I have worked with where all of the above areas have been figured out, there’s always that challenge wherein the Salesforce.com reports are being compared with the Marketo reports and the numbers across the two platforms vary, thereby raising questions around the validity of the reports in Marketo. Typically, Salesforce.com has wider cross-functional adoption than Marketo, and in any case is where the bookings and revenue data resides, so it’s often seen as the source of truth. This can put marketers in a tough position, because your marketing reports lose all credibility if the numbers don’t match.
So what can cause Salesforce.com and Marketo reports to be off?

There are several reasons as to why the numbers might be off: criteria used in the report across the 2 platforms, variations in terminology, so on and so forth. As a person who’s been an ex-employee of both of these companies (so my opinion isn’t biased), and as an expert-user of both of these platforms, let me assure you that the numbers across these two platforms shouldn’t be way too off, however, you need to ensure that the parameters you’re looking at across both of these systems need to be consistent.

To add 1 less variable to the mix to ensure that the reporting across these two platforms is consistent, I typically recommend to companies to sync all of their leads from Marketo to SFDC, instead of holding back in Marketo leads that are not MQLs (Marketing Qualified Leads), as yet. Of course, there’s always those clients whose SDR teams are getting overwhelmed with thousands of leads to manage (and you’re fortunate to be in that space if your company is one of these), however, if that’s not you, syncing all leads from Marketo to SFDC is a good idea. Your SDR team will still have visibility into the leads scores, so they can always prioritize leads to call on/e-mail based on the Lead Scores.

Keeping these things in mind should get you off to a great start, as you build out your marketing automation efforts using Marketo, and plan not just for the immediate reporting needs of the demand generation manager, but the revenue and pipeline ROI reporting that CMOs require.

5) Plan and Predict Future Pipeline and Revenues with Marketing Forecasting

In addition to all of the above, I recommend that Marketo customers spend some time thinking through how to forecast future results, not just dwell on the past. This often makes the difference in marketing’s – and the CMO’s — perception in an organization: can it sit at the revenue table and drive towards future goals? There are ways to do this through spreadsheet analysis of course, which many Marketo users do today. But I would also recommend that you look into the automated, out-of-the-box revenue analytics that BrightFunnel provides. If you are guilty of not having done steps 1 through 4 perfectly, for example, BrightFunnel can make revenue attribution quite automated and painless. And it can do so in a way that is CMO and Boardroom ready.

But automating revenue analytics and forecasting is just a start. What excites me the most about the BrightFunnel platform is that it takes the analytics from Marketo and Salesforce.com a notch further. BrightFunnel solves the questions that every marketer I’ve spoken to has – “what is the ideal sequence of programs/campaigns that could convert a lead into an opportunity?” Or “what is the ideal sequence of content that moves the lead through the lead lifecycle in the least duration?” Knowing answers to these questions could catapult your marketing automation efforts and thereby your company’s growth plans.

I would love to hear your thoughts on any other things to think about or any other challenges you run into from a marketing analytics standpoint.

About the Author

kashmira-bakshi-headshot Kashmira Bakshi is the Principal at ROI Targets, a consultancy helping businesses execute on Demand Generation strategies. She previously led the SMB Professional Services team at Marketo and served as an analyst at salesforce.com.
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