Why, and Where, Marketo Makes Sense

Are you considering purchasing or switching to a digital marketing automation platform like Marketo? Or maybe you have Marketo and need to justify the ongoing investment?

As some of the biggest Marketo proponents (Heck, I own purple Marketo Converse sneakers) we have built a business around Marketo but it’s not for every organization. In this post, we dive into when Marketo does and doesn’t fit.

Where Marketo Might Not Fit?

Marketo is a leading marketing automation and engagement platform but there is no “easy” button for creating measurable and repeatable marketing. Like an assembly line, Marketo provides massive efficiency and vision once the assembly line process is created–that takes time and usually requires organizational changes.

Is your company ready? Here’s our rule of thumb criteria on figuring out if Marketo is a fit for your business..and how you can address some internal obstacles.

1) Management isn’t Willing to Invest in People and Process

This is a big one.

Internal or external, it’s going to take an investment to run the rocketship in the short and long term. This goes for any solution. Your organization should plan on at least matching the Marketo license investment 2-3X+ in internal employees or external services within the first six months.

We have seen organizations lay out the expense for Marketo and then assign some junior employees to try to make it work. Or, ask the trade show manager to setup lead scoring. “Just make it work” is something we sometimes hear. These are not best practice approaches. That’s like handing over the controls of a 747 plane to a new pilot out of virtual flight school.

To make Marketo hum, be ready to create a modern team of marketers that can drive operations, analytics, and best practice lifecycle marketing. You don’t need all of these roles when you start out but understand that investing in a team is critical.

2) Your Company’s Mindset is Old School

We could talk to our elderly relatives until we’re blue in the face about the benefits of today’s smartphones, but’s he’s not much into change and loves his old flip phone.  Likewise, if your executive team isn’t bought into modern marketing, changing the mindset can be challenging.

If you are discussing the benefits of adopting a CRM versus using spreadsheets, or mail merging your audience out of Outlook, these are signs that a little modern marketing education may be needed.

Before investing in a solution, get your team on board to set expectations and priorities. If you’d like to educate the team and build consensus around Marketo’s fit, we recommend signing up for the fit analysis. If the flip phone mindset still exists, there are plenty of entry-level marketing solutions that might make a better fit.

3) Your Company Hates Change

Bad process = bad automation and bad results. When you start your journey, Marketo will highlight bad processes and data management–that is a good thing.

Gaining vision into process gaps helps you change your processes for the better.  For example, if Marketo highlights wasted investment by showing that Sales isn’t following up on leads, you’ll have the opportunity to adjust your business practices.

Addressing these challenges makes the engine work. Yes, you can attain some quick wins but the true value happens over the long term. If you’d rather not deal with business change or you still like flip phones, you might consider saving the investment and using an entry-level email blasting solution.

4) Management Doesn’t Care about Analytics

Does your organization measure results or care about measuring results?  One of the biggest Marketo benefits is the ability to gain vision into your business to make it more predictable. That’s how you can justify the investment.

If your organization doesn’t care about measuring the impact of marketing and sales, or likes to fly blind, it will be difficult to justify the investment in the long run.

For example, is the following something you measure or would like to measure for various marketing programs you run?  If so, you’ll need to invest in the process (yes, a common theme) to make sure your systems are set up with the end goal in mind.

This quarter, nurture emails engaged 7,200 people while influencing 625 opportunities and 150 deals totaling $2,00,000.

If your organization is open to adopting modern metrics but isn’t there yet, Marketo offers plenty of reporting insights that you can use as a stepping stone to more advanced insights.

5) You Have Another Solution that is Working In-house

The grass isn’t always greener (or more purple in Marketo’s case). Swapping solutions to/from Marketo has a switching cost and can cause some internal political battles. If you are getting what you need from your current solution, it might not make sense to switch.

We recently worked with a client that had Pardot and they needed help assessing its marketing technology stack. Watch their story here.

6) Efficiency Doesn’t Matter

Marketo can help organizations streamline the marketing process and drive efficiencies. As a simple example, instead of ten Salespeople sending ten different emails, Marketo can automate the process so Marketing can send the email once without Sales ever lifting a finger. What if efficiencies like this weren’t valued?

We had a client where efficiency didn’t matter because they used cost-effective offshore labor and closed-loop analytics weren’t important. They stayed with their homegrown solution because the Marketo investment was too high compared to the manual work that their offshore team did.

7) You Have a Really Small Company (less than 10-20 employees)

Marketo may be overkill for mom-n-pop companies and smaller organizations that plan to stay small for a while.

We once had a client with five employees who loved Marketo’s vision and purchased a license. After a few months of owning Marketo, the company contacted us to help drive repeatable marketing programs. The challenge was the company didn’t grow as quickly as it thought it would. It didn’t need the power of Marketo as it had few leads, didn’t have a Sales team, and performed limited marketing. Marketo wasn’t a fit and the company eventually transitioned to a more cost-effective solution.

8) You Don’t have a B2B Sales Team

This one is debatable….you don’t have a Sales team. Marketo is a rockstar solution for establishing B2B sales team processes like No Lead Left Behind. If your focus is B2C, Marketo still shines but you just aren’t taking advantage of Marketo’s B2B capabilities because of its not your business process.

This is like when a photographer purchases a spectacular camera that also offers a great 4K video. The camera alone still fits the photographer’s needs but the 4K video is that extra component that adds icing to the cake.

OK, So Where Does Marketo Fit like a Glove?

Marketo gives businesses vision into marketing objectives while providing the ability to engage audiences in a measurable fashion.

Is it a fit for your organization? In our experience, Marketo is a best-of-breed marketing platform leader for mid-to-enterprise sized companies that want to:

  • Engage its audience and promote its brand through various channels (Email, SEO, SEM, Direct Mail, etc). Although a few of these sit outside Marketo in third-party systems, Marketo serves as the mission control for management and measurement.
  • Measure the impact of their marketing efforts while adopting modern marketing strategies.
  • Optimize B2B Sales and Marketing processes to create a measurable funnel. Marketo especially excels with organizations that have a B2B Sales team as the solution helps streamline lead management while arming the Sales team with valuable marketing activity intelligence.
  • Invest in people and process to create efficiencies and drive ROI.
  • Future proof its investment. The solution will scale as the company grows. Additionally, Marketo’s strong position in the marketplace means its here to stay for a while.
  • Purchase a marketing hub that other solutions can tie into. Marketo has hundreds of LaunchPoint partners.

If you answered yes to some or all of the above, Marketo is an excellent candidate for consideration.

Low Cost Alternatives

There are plenty of entry-level solutions like MailChimp, LeadSquaredConstant Contact, InfusionSoft, and others that offer decent email marketing and database management capabilities at a fraction of Marketo’s cost. These solutions aren’t designed to scale but offer an alternative for smaller organizations.

If all you need to do is send out email communications to a wide audience, consider one of the above solutions. A few have basic automation, insights, and lead flow management so they may be worth looking at for the short term (or longer-term depending on your needs).

As a growing company, we’ve had the experience with some of the above for our own marketing. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions.

Conclusion – Is Marketo Right for Your Business?


Marketo provides massive efficiencies for organizations as a marketing automation platform. The solution is ideal for mid-to-enterprise sized organizations that want to engage their audiences and measure results. Mom-n-pop companies, organizations with old school mentality and companies not willing to invest in people/process might consider starting with a basic email marketing solution.

If you need advice on if Marketo fits for your company, we can give you the full skinny on how Marketo’s strengths and weaknesses apply to your organization. Our company focuses on Marketo but we’d never push you to Marketo if it wasn’t the right fit. We’d rather you find the right solution than to buy a solution that doesn’t make sense.

Feel free to reach us at hello@digitalpi.com

Your marketing technology experts.

At Digital Pi, we use technology to connect revenue to marketing efforts. We fuse marketing strategies, processes, data and applications to make marketing technology solutions work for clients' businesses.

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