Marketo customers were left twiddling their thumbs yesterday when Marketo's main website Marketo.com, along with a handful of other Marketo domain properties, went dark for several hours, leaving subscribers unable to log in. 

The reason, it turned out, was the company failed to renew its domain name. 

As CEO Steve Lucas explained in an email to customers and partners: "We renew thousands of domain name properties we own every year with precision, yet the auto renew process for registering our main domain, Marketo.com, failed."

"This catalyzed a cascading series of issues, but ultimately human and process error are to blame and again, we take full responsibility."

Tweeters Gonna Tweet

Despite the apology, customers were not happy.

Mockery ensued.

And ensued some more.

An All-Too Human Error

"Oh those poor people," Sheryl Kingstone, director of Research for 451 Research told CMSWire quite seriously.

"We are Marketo users but we did feel really bad for them. This is a very human error."

Despite — or rather because of the reason for the error — Marketo will have some serious work ahead to rebuild confidence among its customers, she said. "It will have to go out of its way to show that they pay attention to the small issues."

Lucas’ email was a good first start, she said. "He made clear that users' data had not been in danger and that they have been troubleshooting the problem."

CEO Responds

Indeed, Lucas gave customers a play-by-play explanation of what was happening. He explained that the core Marketo application continued to operate in the background while the site was down and customers’ data was never at risk. "While our global support team in Ireland was working with our DNS registrar in the very early morning hours, members of our customer and partner community helped pinpoint specific issues that aided us significantly," he wrote.

"I personally have commissioned a detailed review of our internal operating procedures on a number of fronts to ensure we have fail-safe protocols in every area of the business. Additionally, I've addressed the company internally and while the issue with the registration is largely resolved, I have nonetheless emphasized the gravity of what occurred and extended a call to action for more precision in our operation."

Some customers continued to experience difficulties accessing the site on Wednesday, with expectations that it may take up to 24 hours to fully resolve the problem. 

This episode comes after Marketo faced criticisms earlier this year for the lack of transparency following its big data re-architecture formerly code-named Project Orion. Lucas's actions today suggest the company has chosen a new approach towards customer communications — a change for the better.