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Using Engagement Programs in Marketo Engage to Increase Messaging Relevancy


The B2B marketing world is constantly evolving. Buyer journeys look completely different than they did even just five years ago. On top of that, markets for your products and services are severely competitive. It’s essential for companies to stand out amongst their competitors even just to stay afloat. Companies will often spend large sums of money to acquire the next big tool that will put them over the edge. But what about the tools you currently have? Are you getting the most out of what you have currently?

As an agency specializing in Marketo Engage (we also love you, Hubspot and Account Engagement users), we at Etumos love thinking of ways we can help you leverage Marketo Engage to stand out in the crowd. However, no matter what kind of technical expertise we have with Marketo Engage, nothing will yield results until everyone understands one main concept: messaging relevancy.

What is messaging relevancy?

Have you ever filled out a “Contact Us” form on a website hoping to get some information back from a company, but the company doesn’t respond to you until a month later after another company already did the job? Story of my life. Or what about when you ask Siri a question to fact-check your friend, but she answers with a completely different answer not related to the question at-hand. Both of these situations lack messaging relevancy, either due to the timing or the nature of the content provided.

While this looks a tad different in the B2B marketing world, the main concept still stands: companies must deliver the right information to the right people at the right time to be successful.

Why should your company use Engagement Programs to increase messaging relevancy?

Luckily, you can leverage your existing tools, namely Marketo Engage, to help deliver that relevant messaging to your prospects and customers through Engagement Programs. As a reminder, Engagement Programs are a mechanism within Marketo Engage that can deliver emails to people in your database in a customized, automated, and systematic manner. While there is a limit to the number of Engagement Programs you are able to have live at one time, you are still able to deliver a variety of different streams, or variations, of messaging to maintain a high level of personalization. This then allows you and your team members to deliver that personalized marketing at scale in an automated method, keeping your prospects and customers interested in what you are delivering. But how should you actually go about determining where and how to implement these Engagement Programs? I have some ideas.

How should my company use Engagement Programs to increase messaging relevancy?

First, start by thinking about your company’s strategy and how that’s unique to your business and/or industry. Here are some questions you can begin to think about:

  • What job titles do people hold who typically buy from you?
  • What problem does your business help your customers solve?
  • Does your product/solution benefit one department or many departments?
  • What does your sales process look like? Is it sales-led growth or product-led growth?
  • How do you currently differentiate your messaging? Does anybody wish it was different?

These are just a few of the many questions you and your team can begin to ask to define how you update your existing Engagement Programs or implement them for the first time.

With answers to those questions in mind, here are some ideas you can incorporate into your Engagement Programs:

  • Leverage streams to deliver content that corresponds to where an individual resides within your buying cycle. I like to think of this as TOFU, MOFU, and BOFU or top-of-funnel, middle-of-funnel, and bottom-of-funnel. For example, somebody who is in a top-of-funnel stage with you might have just heard of your brand from a co-worker. At this point they simply want to do some research to see what your company is all about. Within a TOFU stream, then, you can deliver them a weekly email explaining the basics of your product. On the other hand, for a bottom-of-funnel prospect, this person most likely is very familiar with your brand and may even be close to buying. Within a BOFU stream you can send them emails containing more content surrounding why your product is better than another company’s.
  • Transition rules are another mechanism within Engagement Programs that move individuals from one stream to another. In the example above, let’s say your top-of-funnel prospect has been interacting more and more with your marketing content. Bingo! However, there’s still more work to do before they can begin speaking with your sales team. At this juncture it makes sense to update their messaging a tad more to only explain what your product is, but how it provides value to your prospect. Using transition rules, you can automatically move that person to a MOFU stream so that new content is sent.
  • The Streams within Engagement Programs can contain either email assets or Default Programs. Unlike utilizing email assets directly in the Engagement Program, Default Programs can provide an additional layer of suppression in the email sends. For example, let’s say you promote a piece of content on your website as well as within an Engagement Program. By referencing Default Programs within the Engagement program, you can prevent any email in the stream from being sent to an individual that may have already downloaded the content on your website. While we may just think messaging relevancy involves sending the right content, it also involves not sending the wrong content.
  • While not directly created within the Engagement Programs themselves, Segmentations are a great way to personalize content for individuals using multiple data points or advanced logic within those data points at once. One example I have found great use for this is when you have an open-text field for a job title on your forms. As you might assume, you can get a plethora of job titles in this field making it hard to standardize on. By using Segmentations you can create a method to cleanly organize individuals into how you want to organize the data, whether that be by seniority level, job function, or some other classification.
  • If you’re looking to get really spicy with your Marketo instance, Custom Activities and Custom Objects can also be leveraged to trigger an Engagement Program. A common use case for this is tracking product/trial sign-ups (if your business offers that) within Marketo and firing off a weekly email to encourage further engagement. Using Engagement Programs ensures not only are your prospects receiving the content most relevant to their product usage, but they also receive it at a time they are most likely going to read the information.

When should your company implement Engagement Programs to increase messaging relevancy?

Implementing new Engagement Programs and making enhancements to your existing ones requires a firm, well-thought out strategy by a variety of stakeholders across your organization. Not every decision needs to be run by every single stakeholder you work with, but it’s critical to understand how your updated messaging can have downstream effects. For example, you may think it’s a great idea to send emails to prospects that are in conversations with sales to push them across the finish line. However, without sales input, you run the risk of creating a disjointed brand experience for your prospects. This could potentially hinder the likelihood the opportunity is closed won even if you had good intent. Always, always, always, consider the implications of how your changes could impact other teams.

One additional consideration for updates to your Engagement Programs is the feasibility of the messaging. In theory, the content may sound like a great idea that provides a ton of value to your prospects and customers. But if your team doesn’t have the bandwidth and/or resources to launch in the time you initially anticipated, it’s best to wait until those details are confirmed. In summary, then, first understand what’s possible, determine who needs to be involved and what their availability looks like, and then go from there. If that takes one month or six months, think of the business as a whole before doing anything.

Who should be involved when I implement/update Engagement Programs?

I often find that marketing operations teams are best suited to coordinate and eventually make the changes in Marketo. After thinking through who else these changes could impact, involve those individuals at the degree you deem is necessary. Product Marketing teams can provide great input on why your company has a competitive advantage over another company. Sales teams can shine some light on common talking points they cover with individuals from a specific industry. Your Social Media team may be pushing forward a new initiative to increase their following across various social networks. Whomever it may be at your company, effectively communicating the desired changes can prevent a world of confusion and frustration down the road.


Relevant, personalized messaging is no longer a luxury in the B2B marketing space, but rather truly the expectation at this point. Engagement Programs in Marketo are an effective tool that, when used correctly and used to their fullest capacity, can provide tangible value in the form of delivering the right message to the right people at just the right time. That in turn helps individuals feel knowledgeable about your business, informed of how it benefits them and their business, and ultimately confident in their decision to do business with you.

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