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I’ve Become an Accidental Marketo Admin. What Do I Do Now?


In the marketing operations field, I’ve encountered many folks who have suddenly found themselves tasked with owning an inherited Marketo instance, often uncertain about the next steps to take. I, too, have been in this position, feeling equal parts lost and excited. It is probably obvious that it’s crucial to treat your new responsibilities with the care they deserve – but where do you start?

Whether you find yourself as a fresh face in a new position owning an existing Marketo instance or you have recently been promoted and entrusted with the crucial role of admin, this overview is an entry point on your path to success. Read on to gain insights and direction on effectively owning and optimizing your Marketo environment, and ensure you’re on the right track from the outset.

What exactly is my goal here? What am I trying to achieve?

Picture this: You’re in the market for your dream house. You find one that ticks all the right boxes – perfect location, great layout, and a charming façade. But just before signing on the dotted line, what’s the smart move? You call in a home inspector, right? They comb through every nook and cranny, from the foundation to the plumbing to the electrical outlets to the roof, uncovering potential issues that you might not have noticed. It’s like having a second pair of expert eyes to ensure you’re making a solid investment.

Now, let’s draw a parallel to reviewing your newly inherited Marketo instance. Think of Marketo as the digital house you’re moving into. While the analogy isn’t perfect – you still have to live in this house whether you want to or not – Just like with a physical house, you wouldn’t want to move in your belongings without first checking its foundation. Reviewing your instance allows you to inspect the processing, functionality, and operations – while also spotting potential issues. By doing so, you’re ensuring that you are prioritizing the most pressing concerns.

I already have a million items on my to-do list. How do I justify prioritizing this?

Especially in marketing operations, it’s easy to get caught up in a huge rush of tasks and deadlines, but pausing to thoughtfully lay the groundwork is a strategic move that pays dividends down the road. Think about this effort as tidying up your workspace before diving into a big project – it sets the stage for success. It’s not the flashy part of the job, but it makes everything run smoother in the long run. Plus, when we put in the effort now, we’ll save time and headaches down the road. So, let’s roll up our sleeves, tackle the “boring” stuff, and make sure our foundation is rock-solid for whatever exciting new Marketo challenges come our way. Do you want to be potentially surprised by issues down the road, or do you want to take a proactive approach and be ready from the get-go?

Where do I start? Who can help me get this done?

We can break down your audit into a checklist composed of 5 different categories of tasks:


Who or what has access, and do they still need it? Do we have standard safeguards in place to prevent accidents from happening with Smart Campaigns? Are we using communication limits to prevent spamming our database? Once, I inherited a Marketo instance that still had an admin user who had left the company a year ago – it’s always good to check these things just in case.

Who can help: Anyone on your team with historical knowledge of why users may have access or why any operational limits are set particularly high or low.


You are going to have a big headache right off the bat if emails from Marketo aren’t being delivered. Are DKIM and SPF configured? Do your email links show your company branding when you hover your cursor over them? Are you appropriately using the operational email setting and also respecting communication limits?

Who can help: You can complete a few checks yourself, but to actually make any fixes, you will probably need the help of your IT team to configure SPF, DKIM, and DMARC.

Operational processes:

What types of programs exist to support marketing operations? Is marketing suspended being monitored, do you have any data standardization in place? Is there any sort of lead lifecycle in place? Lead source? Preference center? Is there anything in place to respect privacy compliance?

Who can help: You may need to comb through this one on your own, unless your organization has anyone who was “moonlighting” as admin temporarily or if an agency is used who can fill in the blanks and provide useful context.


We’ve all seen it – an instance where some people create programs named as YYYY-MM-DD-Channel-Name, while other users name programs as YYMMDD-Channel-Name, while other users name programs as YYYYMMDD-Channel-Business line-Name, when the “official” naming convention (that nobody uses) is something entirely different. We’ve also seen the instance with programs from 5 years ago that nobody wants to archive. Keep it clean, keep it consistent. Also, review the instance for existing program templates – do any exist, or do you need to put together a list of ones to prioritize?

Who can help: Ultimately, you will need buy-in from program creators – your marketing folks who actually build in the instance.

CRM sync:

This can be a hefty category for review. What types of errors are you seeing? Is there a sync backlog, where records aren’t syncing as rapidly as they should? Is there a large amount of synced fields between systems?

Who can help: This is where you should make friends with your CRM admin. At a minimum, always say please and thank you, always follow their ticketing process, and always appreciate what they do. You may also want to make a note of their favorite coffee or lunch order. They are almost always overworked and you are going to need their support in order to see success here. They can help you export field-level security, make changes to the Marketo sync user, and put processes in place for the health of your organization’s RevOps systems.

In Summary

Get off to the right start by reviewing your Marketo instance. Take a dive deep into all of the processes and operations through the entire system. So, grab your magnifying glass and get into the nitty-gritty. By starting with a proactive approach to your new responsibilities, you are more likely to set yourself (and your organization) up for success.

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