The 7 best marketing automation features in Marketo

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A set of professional marketers and Marketo customers share their favorite features of the popular marketing automation platform, including a unique 'Engagement Engine' and a bustling user community.


Marketing automation software maker Marketo recently celebrated its 10th anniversary.With 4,300 customers, it is among the most widely used marketing tech platforms. Its integration with other SaaS providers via its 550-partner LaunchPoint ecosystem makes Marketo an invaluable tool for many modern marketers.

However, Marketo is packed with features and functionality, and the average user isn't likely familiar with them all. To help you find some of these advanced capabilities, we asked digital marketing pros to share their favorite Marketo features. (For their thoughts on how Marketo could improve its platform, read "4 key marketing automation features Marketo lacks.")

Marketo customers' favorite features

1. Marketo's robust mobile tools 

Last year, Marketo introduced new mobile features that help digital marketers stay on top of the latest mobile trends, according to Jennifer Clegg, director of marketing automation and technology at CA Technologies. Marketers today use more than one device during a typical workday, she says. "This makes it critical that campaign assets created within Marketo are optimized for mobile devices, communication extends to SMS, and that the application itself can be easily accessed on a mobile, tablet or phablet device." Clegg says Marketo does all of these things well.

Clegg cites Marketo Moments, an iOS and Android app that provides mobile access to performance updates on email campaigns, as an example of Marketo's mobile strength. The app "has gained different levels of traction within our marketing team," she says. "Some have been using it since it became available and some don't see the value, since you don't have the full platform at your fingertips. But it's great for accommodating that last-minute, 'Don't-send-that-email' or 'What-was-the-final-email-version?' request, or for having a bird's eye view of email and event campaigns for show-and-tell at a conference." 

2. Marketo's precise A/B email testing

One of Marketo's strongest features is the capability to do A/B testing on different parts of outbound email, according to Rick DeCosta, marketing production manager with SmartBear Software. "In the A/B testing module section, you have the ability to test multiple subject lines, the email-from address, and the date and time of when the email will be sent, and you can test full versions of different emails," he says. "By performing these different kinds of tests, you can increase conversions and discover what kind of email variants can be successful for your audience. These tests can have a substantial impact on your marketing campaigns and drive better results."

[Related: Top 4 marketing automation tools and why you'll love (and hate) them ]

SmartBear uses Marketo's A/B email testing to make sure leads receive email at appropriate times, according to DeCosta. The Boston-based company generates leads from around the world, so "it doesn't make sense for us to send a mass email to all intended leads at 8 a.m. EST, since the leads are located in different regions," he says. "Through Marketo, we've been able to segment our database into certain buckets that we call 'time flights.' With these flights, we can target leads by geographical location." 

Marketo's A/B testing module helped SmartBear increase its email open rates by 15 percent and conversions by 20 percent, according to DeCosta. "By starting with an A/B test of the actual time of the email send, we've moved forward to using time flights with all of our mass email deliveries through Marketo."      

Though "flight" segmentation isn'tunique to Marketo, the platform "makes it easier to go through the process of segmenting the leads and tagging them by location," says DeCosta. "The unique feature within Marketo is the ability to easily send the email to a different flight without having to create a separate campaign for each time zone you may want to have included in the email send." 

3. Marketo 'Engagement Engine'

Marketo's "Engagement Engine" is a "power tool" all of its users should take advantage of, according to Justin Gray, CEO of LeadMD, a Marketo partner.

Within the Engagement Engine, Marketo customers can learn behaviors by "listening" to what a prospect is doing on a particular stream, Gray says. "If someone isn't engaging, you can adjust the frequency to try to increase engagement. Or perhaps you have an industry or persona-specific nurture campaign, and you've identified that within a stream. Engagement programs are flexible enough to work with each other, enabling you to move buyers across streams to better serve relevant content."

The average B2B Marketo user "has tens to hundreds of thousands of leads flowing through nurture programs at any time," Gray says. "And the campaigns are long, often extending beyond a year of content. That can lead to some pretty big missteps if you don't have the right system in place to manage it, and Marketo's Engagement Engine does just that."

4. Marketo micro-targets website visitors

Marketo lets organizations "personalize their Web pages based on user experience, location and special promotions, providing the kind of personalization that consumers have come to expect online," according to Carrie McIlveen, U.S. marketing director of Metia. "It also means that through customizing the user experience down to the individual user level and micro-targeting, you can reduce inefficiency as well as ensure you're reaching your audience with a highly targeted message."

[Related: 12 questions to ask marketing automation vendors (before you buy) ]

Marketo "uses header and footer code to create cookies that track user actions online to constantly gather information," McIlveen says. "This helps build active customer profiles. Say you're conducting a retargeting campaign of people who've already visited a certain page of your website. By choosing that criteria in Marketo, you can speak to these specific people exclusively." 

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