Photo of Marketo homepage on a monitor screen through a magnifying glass.
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Marketo is Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)-based marketing automation software owned by Adobe and built to help organizations automate and measure marketing engagement, tasks and workflows.

Based in San Mateo, Calif., Marketo software aims to allow B2B and B2C marketers target qualified leads, produce lead-to-revenue opportunities and execute automated, personalized marketing campaigns across multiple digital channels. 

Adobe, a digital experience software provider, acquired Marketo in September of 2018 in one of the largest marketing technology acquisitions at $4.75 billon. It has spent the past two years integrating the Marketo software stack into its Adobe Experience Cloud, with most of the integration activity coming this year. Adobe acquired the product from private equity firm Vista Equity Partners, which acquired Marketo in May of 2016 for $1.79 billion.

What is Marketing Automation?

Marketing automation is the process of using software to complete repetitive marketing tasks designed to nurture sales leads, personalize marketing messages and content and, in the process, save marketers’ time and effort. Marketing automation is part of a massive stack of marketing technology tools that now as of April 2020 includes around 8,000 solutions in the marketplace, according to the Chief Marketing Technologist Blog.

The practice of marketing automation and its software deployments for marketing organizations hasn't cooled. According to Social Media’s Today 2019 State of Marketing Automation Survey report, about three out of four companies use a marketing automation tool. Marketo is one of the more popular tools alongside Adobe Campaign, HubSpot, Oracle Eloqua, Salesforce Pardot, Act-On and SharpSpring, each of which were called "leading" in a December 2019 report from TrustRadius, "The Buyer’s Guide to Marketing Automation Software." In that same report, about 70% of marketers said marketing automation software is critical to their goals. 

Related Article: What Is Marketing Automation and How Does It Help Marketers?

Who Uses Marketo?

Lori Wizdo, Forrester analyst who covers marketing automation, 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."

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
  • Revenue Attribution

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

  • Marketing Automation
  • Account Insights and Profiling
  • Account-Based Marketing
  • Email
  • Mobile
  • Social
  • Digital Ads
  • Web 
  • Marketing Analytics
  • Marketo Sales Connect
  • Predictive Content

Wizdo cited Marketo’s lead-to-revenue (L2RM) framework as a major strength. 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

"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." 

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. 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), eight points for "Marketo" searches, etc.

Related Article: What's Adobe Doing With Its Multibillion Dollar Magento, Marketo Acquisitions?

Marketo Pricing 

Marketo does not include specific pricing information publicly but groups them into tiers: select, prime, ultimate and enterprise. 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 Capterra, Marketo Marketing Automation pricing starts at $1,026 per month. They do not have a free version. Marketo Marketing Automation offers a free trial.

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

Two Major Acquisitions Since 2018

Marketo has seen major changes in the past two-plus years. The center of the Marketo platform used to be its Engagement Platform, which is now Marketo Engage. which is now part of the Adobe Experience Cloud. It natively supports supports demand and account-based marketing strategies. Marketo Enage includes: content personalization, cross-channel engagement, experience automation, sales partnership and marketing impact analytics.

Brian Glover, product marketing director for Marketo Engage and Adobe, told CMSWire the platform has seen significant integrations post Adobe acquisition. It has also seen integrations in the platform after the acquisition of Bizible (marketing performance management) in May of 2018, four months before the Adobe acquisition.

What Adobe Means for Marketo Software

Adobe offers an Adobe Experience Cloud composed of four separate cloud suites; Analytics Cloud, Advertising Cloud, Marketing Cloud and Commerce Cloud. Marketo Engage falls within the Marketing Cloud along with Experience Manager (Web Content Management and Digital Asset Management), Campaign (email marketing/marketing automation) and Adobe Target (personalization and optimization).

The company announced early in 2020 an Adobe Experience Manager Asset (AEM Assets) Selector, which allows Marketo Engage users to access assets from Adobe’s digital asset management (DAM) offering. This integration is available for Marketo customers who are also customers of AEM Assets (the Adobe DAM) and have version 6.5 or higher.

That was the second major integration between Adobe and Marketo post-acquisition, the first being the one between Marketo and the Adobe Platform Launch, which offers tag management capabilities. That integration married Adobe’s tag management capabilities with Marketo’s custom JavaScript tracking code, called Munchkin, and an integration with Bizible, Marketo’s revenue attribution system.

Marketo Engage also now integrates with other Adobe marketing software, most of which came in Marketo’s Q2 2020 release in June.

  • Adobe Audience Manager: data enrichment and activation, identity management and cross-channel engagement.
  • Adobe Target: omni-channel personalization, content optimization and real-time decisioning.
  • Adobe Ad Cloud: omni-channel advertising, ad spend optimization and audience suppression.
  • Adobe Analytics: cross-channel analysis and content consumption.

"We have taken a multi-phased approach to integrating into Experience Cloud," Glover said. "So we have been busy building integrations across nearly all of the applications in Experience Cloud. The follow-on phases will involve integrating Marketo deeply into Experience Platform, but that's a little bit forward looking and something that we're planning for 2021." 

Marketo offers a technology partner ecosystem of 443 partners called LaunchPoint.

Related Article: Adobe Integrates Adobe Experience Manager Assets With Marketo Engage

Marketo Observers: Micro Targeting, Custom Object Feature Approval

Marketo user Shem Mandajos, chief marketing officer at Tankarium, commended Marketo for its update for enhanced personalization through the creation of "Custom Object" schema definitions in its January 2020 release. "The Custom Object feature allows users to define an unestablished object so they can use it multiple times in the future again without identifying them again," Mandajos said. "If users do not do this, they would have to manually program codes every single time, which is time-consuming and difficult."

Amra Beganovich, CEO and founder of digital agency A&E, said some of Marketo's features she finds extra useful include:

  • Email testing on various parts of outbound emails: Users can test multiple subject lines, and different hours to send emails to increase the conversion rate.
  • Engagement engine: This enables users to learn client behavior and increase engagements.
  • Micro-targeting feature for website visitors: This allows marketers to customize web pages based on information this feature provides. Overall, micro-targeting leads to increased efficiency of marketing campaigns and allows users to reach the target demographic.

"From my experience, the integrations with Marketo are pretty straightforward," Begnovich added. "Some of the best ones include: Salesforce, Google Analytics, GoToWebinar and Netsuite."

Eric Hollebone, chief services officer at marketing agency DemandLab, said the Adobe acquisition has also accelerated the integration of exciting feature sets in areas such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Behavioral Intelligence (BI) and Account-Based Marketing (ABM).

  • Behavioral data capture: As part of the Adobe suite of products, Marketo users have access to sophisticated data analytics that enable marketers to track buying behaviors and use that data to optimize the buyer journey.
  • AI-powered functionality: Marketo now offers a suite of AI tools powered by Adobe Sensei, including Predictive Content (formerly ContentAI), which continually analyzes and optimizes the web and email content serviced to customers, and Predictive Audiences, which anticipates customer preferences and needs and delivers real-time, personalized experiences at scale.
  • ABM capabilities: Marketo has lately focused on providing integrated tools that support Account-Based Marketing, including Account Profiling that identifies high-potential accounts and lead-to-account matching to help marketers associate individual leads to target accounts, and a LinkedIn integration that enables marketers to engage high-value accounts with relevant content on LinkedIn.

"While Marketo has always been a leader in the marketing automation space, the recent acquisition by Adobe has transformed the possibilities," Hollebone said. "As part of the Adobe suite of products, Marketo has accelerated its movement upstream to meet the needs of enterprise marketers and benefits from being embedded in Adobe's broader suite of customer experience management tools."