People in the crowd at the Marketing Nation Summit focus on the stage.
People in the crowd at the Marketing Nation Summit, Marketo's annual customer conference.

Marketo is SaaS based marketing automation software built to help organizations automate and measure marketing engagement, tasks and workflows. Based in San Mateo, California the company sells marketing automation software to help B2B and B2C marketers target qualified leads, produce lead-to-revenue opportunities and execute automated, personalized marketing campaigns across multiple digital channels. 

Marketing Automation: Who, What, Why?

If you ask Marketo consultant Carey Picklesimer about the impact of a system like Marketo's, she will tell you these systems are "game changers for the entire organization."

Marketo is a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) marketing automation platform designed to automate the process of engaging with prospective and existing customers through digital channels, said Lori Wizdo, principal analyst at Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester and longtime Marketo follower. “Systems like Marketo are absolutely essential to the modern B2B marketer because B2B buyers are increasingly self-directed and control their buying cycle more than vendors control the selling cycle,” she said

Who Uses Marketo

The practice of marketing automation and its software deployments for marketing organizations hasn't cooled. According to the 2017 Salesforce State of Marketing Report, 67 percent of marketing leaders currently use a marketing automation platform. That same report found that over the next two years, an additional 21 percent of marketing leaders plan to use a marketing automation platform. So who typically uses Marketo's software? Wizdo broke down Marketo users into three buckets:

  • Marketing practitioners who need to get campaigns built and nurturing strategies operationalized
  • Sales reps who now have insight into all the digital behavior of prospects and can now have better, more contextual engagement
  • Marketing execs who can now correlate marketing investment to sales pipeline and revenue.

According to Ryan Vong, president and CEO of Marketo partner Digital Pi, Marketo users may be in demand generation, marketing operations, sales, executives, sales and marketing agencies, product management, product marketing, brand managers and marketing administrators. “Depending on the company size, business and maturity almost anyone can be a Marketo user,” Vong said. “The number of ways companies can and do use Marketo is quite large, and very diverse; that reflects on the diversity of the people who use Marketo.”

Another study corroborates the marketing automation momentum. Econsultancy's 2017 State of B2B Marketing Automation found marketing leaders are 24 percent more likely than their peers to say they are currently using marketing automation. Further, almost two-thirds of these companies employ marketing automation technology.

Marketo Marketing Features

Let's take a look at some core Marketo software features and solutions:

  • Lead Management
  • Lead Nurturing
  • Lead Scoring
  • Bi-directional CRM synching
  • Email Marketing
  • Consumer Marketing
  • Website Personalization
  • Web Activity Tracking
  • Customer Base Marketing
  • Mobile Marketing
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Social Marketing
  • CRM Integration
  • Campaign Dashboards and Reports
  • Marketing Calendar
  • Digital Ads
  • Program and Campaign Analysis
  • Anonymous Retargeting
  • Opportunity Influence Modeler
  • Advanced Report Builder.

Those features are subsets of Marketo's "engagement applications," which include:

  • Marketing Automation
  • Account-Based Marketing
  • Email
  • Mobile
  • Social
  • Digital Ads
  • Web 
  • Marketing Analytics
  • Content AI.

Marketo Pricing 

Marketo does not include specific pricing information publicly. According to Marketo's pricing literature on its website, pricing is primarily based on the number of contacts in a marketing database, not usage. According to Marketing Automation Insider, Marketo costs $895 per month for up to 10,000 contacts. Full feature pricing is $3,195 per month. Set-up fees will run organizations $895, and the starting number of users is 10, with a cost per extra user.

Marketo does not require customers to buy bundles of its marketing applications. Some may start with email marketing automation and evolve into products like Marketo Content, an AI-powered product designed to predict content most likely to convert each audience by auto-discovering and cataloging website assets.

Automated Digital Engagement Management

Marketo’s software is designed to help its users log every digital interaction and help them engage them in a relevant conversation, according to Vong. “Marketo measures the interactions to help companies always improve how they reach and engage their audiences to achieve their business goals,” he says.

B2B marketers now own the relationship with potential buyers in the early phases of the customer buying journey, according to Wizdo. Buyers, she added, increasingly chose to do their own research through digital channels like email, web, social media and digital advertising. “And if you don’t have a system like Marketo, you can’t manage that digital engagement,” Wizdo added.

Digital Marketing 'Essentials'

Marketo developers and engineers have built out their platform and included what Brian Glover, principal product marketing director for Marketo calls the essential capabilities for digital marketing. Marketo software users can evolve over time and easily connect Marketo with other technologies they have in their current marketing stack.

Marketo Marketing Automation: Engagement, Applications

Marketo Engagement Hub

Glover said the foundation of the Marketo marketing software ecosystem is the Marketo Engagement Hub, which is part of the Marketo Engagement Platform. It is composed of the Engagement Marketing Hub, Marketo Marketing Apps and Partner Apps. A big data architecture, developed under the codename Project Orion, powers the Engagement Platform. Orion leverages big data technologies such as Apache HBase (a Hadoop database and big data store), Apache Spark (big data processing) and Apache Kafka (distributed streaming platform).

In the Engagement Hub, Marketo-generated customer data is curated from multiple digital touchpoints within Marketo, and marketers then can create cross-channel, personalized campaigns using automation, analytics and adaptive engines. Marketo's data-capturing engines bring back digital signals that feed back into the Engagement Hub.

As part of the Marketo Engagement Hub, Marketo’s software also features an automation engine that helps marketers orchestrate campaigns, an analytics engine that produces insights on marketing’s impact on business and an artificial intelligence engine for personalization execution. Machine learning engines help establish content-delivery strategies.

Graphic that illustrates the components of the Marketo Engagement Platform.
Graphic that illustrates the components of the Marketo Engagement Platform.

Marketo Digital Apps, Lead-to-Revenue Framework

On top of the Marketo Engagement Hub you will find 12 different applications: email, web, Ads, mobile, social, events, marketing automation, ABM (account-based marketing), Content AI, marketing analytics, sales engagement and planning. Within that ecosystem is Marketing Activities, Lead Database, Calendar, Analytics, Ad Bridge, Personalization, Predictive Content and Revenue Cycle Analyzer — applications on top of the core.

Wizdo said Marketo’s software allows users to leverage automated use cases that are common in business marketing, but not typically found in consumer marketing:

  • Workflow that manages a complex, long, time frame engagement
  • Lead scoring
  • Lead matriculation to sales
  • Sales insight into digital engagement of the buyer from "unknown visitor" to "lead"
  • Lead-to-revenue framework.
Screenshot of Marketo's Marketing Influence analytics, which shows marketing's contribution to sales.
Marketo's Marketing Influence analytics, which shows marketing's contribution to sales.

Wizdo cited Marketo’s lead-to-revenue (L2RM) framework as a major strength. According to RingDNA, L2RM is an "engagement model that integrates metrics, processes and goals that shapes marketing practices throughout the entire buying cycle. This process begins during lead generation, but then extends through every buying stage to revenue generation." Wizdo wrote in "The Forrester Wave: Lead-To-Revenue Management Platform Vendors, Q4 2016" The L2RM business system "comprises integrated goals, processes and metrics that reshape marketing practices to drive effective customer engagement across the entire customer life cycle — from awareness to advocacy."

“The most important result is that marketing’s contribution to pipeline and revenue increases,” Wizdo told CMSWire.

Lead Nurturing, Lead Scoring

Two key features of Marketo’s software and professional services are lead nurturing and lead scoring. According to literature on Marketo’s website, lead nurturing “is the process of developing relationships with buyers at every stage of the sales funnel, and through every step of the buyer’s journey. It focuses marketing and communication efforts on listening to the needs of prospects, and providing the information and answers they need.” Glover during his demonstration for CMSWire showed how marketers using Marketo have the abily to use drag-and-drop for lead nurturing practices.

Marketo on its website calls lead scoring the backbone to lead nurturing. It is a mechanism and strategy to determine where a lead is within a buying model. Glover said Marketo sees leading scoring in two major dimensions: demographic/firmographic data and behavioral data. Marketo offers services to help users take advantage of lead-scoring technologies within Marketo. Marketo service professionals will help determine points for certain online attributes, such as five points for attending a webinar, -10 for visiting career pages (negative because they don’t want to buy Marketo, they want to work there), 8 points for “Marketo” searches, etc.

Marketo Marketing Automation: Partners, Implementations

Marketo offers a technology partner ecosystem of about 600 partners called LaunchPoint. Glover said Marketo has integrations with popular customer relationship management (CRM) systems like Salesforce and others integrations with Google, Facebook, Linkedin, Google Adwords and events systems such as Cvent and Webex.

Marketo Implementations

Wizdo said Marketo implementations can be quick, about three to six months. Integration into Salesforce CRM is fairly well under control, she said, while integration into other CRMs can be problematic, “at least according to what we hear,” Wizdo said. “The integration with ancillary solutions, like those in the Marketo ecosystem, generally get high marks. That is down to the solution partners thinking through the use cases and engineering integration at the use-case level.” Getting a grasp on your data and legacy systems before implementing Marketo is crucial, according to Marketo consultant Carey Picklesimer.

Vong told CMSWire Marketo implementations depend on the size and complexity of the task at hand, just like any software implementation. Marketo provides out-of-the-box integrations with most popular applications, he said, and provides APIs that allow any developer to integrate with the Marketo platform.