The success of any engagement program – regardless of your marketing automation platform – hinges on defining clear goals you can measure and monitor.

Many digital marketers use nurture marketing to engage customers because it allows them to maintain multiple touch points throughout the lead lifecycle.

These touchpoints are crucial for demonstrating brand value, strengths, and solutions to problems that customers may not have even been aware of. In fact, 93% of B2B companies say content marketing generates more leads than traditional marketing strategies.

In this blog post, we will focus on Marketo, however, the points covered are still applicable to all digital marketers looking to better understand the basics of nurture marketing.

Marketo Engagement Programs: Four Steps to Manage Them

Building a basic engagement program in Marketo is easy to do if you’re familiar with the user interface. If you’re not familiar, Marketo’s documentation library provides end users with an extensive catalogue of easy-to-follow product guides.

However, the intent of that documentation is to give you the building blocks to get started. The actual management of your Engagement Program is up to you. So where do you begin?

#1 – Set Measurable Goals

Before creating or building out an Engagement Program, you need to first decide what you are trying to accomplish, and whether or not it can be measured. Your goals can be both quantitative and qualitative, so don’t feel obligated to tie your goals only to numeric metrics.

Here are a few examples to help you get started:

  • Gain a higher level of engagement (higher CTR, opens, clicks, etc…)
  • Get X amount of leads to sign up for a free trial
  • Increase week-over-week traffic
  • Reduce the number of unsubscribes (weekly, monthly)
  • Acquire 20 percent more leads (quarterly)

Make sure that you and your team are clear from the beginning what those goals are, and how you plan to measure each goal.

#2 – Report and Measure

Marketo has plenty of out-of-the-box reporting options to help you track and monitor the baseline metrics associated with your Engagement Program. The Engagement Stream Performance Report in combination with the Landing Page Performance Report provides a broad overview of baseline metrics (Click Through Rate, Opens, Delivers, Clicks, etc…) for each program within your content streams.

Marketo Smart Lists are also a great resource to help you dive deeper into the metrics you won’t find in Marketo’s standardized reports. For example, you could set up smart lists to track weekly, monthly, or annual stream volumes. Or, you could use Smart Lists to track how many leads clicked on a specific CTA within a landing page or email, which can be extremely useful if you have multiple different links. Marketo also allows users to create subscriptions for all reports and smart lists, so you can deliver insights straight to an inbox.

Going beyond Marketo reports and smart lists, you should also be creating some form of custom reporting (outside of Marketo) to better track the metrics that align with your desired goals and outcomes. This could be something as simple as an Excel spreadsheet, or something more robust like a Power BI or Tableau dashboard.

Just make sure you’re not spending all your time updating reports manually, and try to focus on the metrics that show you how well your Engagement Program stacks up against your pre-determined goals.

#3 – Monitoring and Alerting

Equally as important as reporting, you should make sure you’re setting up checks – using Marketo smart lists and static lists – to ensure that your Engagement Program is running smoothly. Especially if you’re using complex back-end lead flow architecture.

Set up smart list subscriptions to alert you and your team when systematic errors occur, so that you can take action quickly and fix whatever the problem may be. These smart lists can help you catch leads that have been incorrectly routed into your Engagement Program, or trigger and batch campaigns that aren’t working properly.

It’s important that you account for as many “fail scenarios” as possible that could occur before launching a new Engagement Program. Fail scenarios include leads that:

  • Incorrectly qualify for a segment
  • Are not routed to proper streams based on activity or inactivity
  • Are not stamped with desired metadata
  • Improperly leave engagement programs before they complete their journey
  • Are prevented from making it into certain streams by back-end architecture
  • Receive the same piece of content multiple times

This will help you stay on top of possible failures before they can negatively impact the lead journey. Obviously, you can’t account for every possible issue, but it’s a great place to start.

#4 – Optimize and Iterate

You should constantly be looking to optimize and iterate on your Engagement Program.

However, when considering larger scale optimizations, you should wait until you’ve reached a point of statistical significance in your data. The point in which you decide to optimize or iterate on your Engagement Program is completely dependent on the number of leads you have passing through it.

For example, if your Engagement Program is relatively small (1000 users or less) with minimal growth, you’ll need to wait longer to reach a point of statistical significance. That’s different than an Engagement Program with a relatively large audience (100,000 or more).

Once you’ve accumulated enough data, you’ll need to assess a few key aspects:

  • Which programs are performing well, and which programs are falling short? Maybe there are programs that need to be adjusted or eliminated altogether. 
  • Are you seeing low open rates? Consider adjusting the subject line and doing some A/B testing.
  • Are your open rates high but your click-through rates low? Maybe your subject line and content don’t align, or maybe the content title is not very appealing.
  • Which streams are performing the best, and which are falling short?
  • How are leads making it into your Engagement Program? Maybe consider adding more points of entry.
  • What is the order of your content – and does it fit within the progression of the customer’s journey?
  • How is your back-end architecture performing and is it scalable? Always look for ways to make your back-end architecture easier to manage and more scalable.

These are just a few examples of ways you can strive to improve your Engagement Program. Some of these optimizations require you to wait long enough to reach a point of statistical significance. Others, you can implement as soon as the issue is identified.

It’s all about finding the perfect balance between doing too much and not enough.

Final Thoughts

The success of any Engagement Program hinges on defining clear and measurable goals. Goals that allow you to report and monitor effectively, so you can learn enough to be able to optimize and iterate in a meaningful way.

Have questions? Connect with us at #MKTGnation Summit!

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About the Author

Chad Russell-Koblin is a Marketo Certified Expert (MCE) based in our Seattle office. He has more than 10 years of experience in digital marketing and business development. He has also implemented and managed large-scale engagement programs for enterprise level customers, and built complex lead-flow architecture.