Boost Conversion Rates with Marketo Smart Lists

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Kerri Potter May 13, 2019

At Closed Loop, the majority of our clients are also Marketo clients. If you’re not familiar, Marketo is a marketing automation platform, and one of the primary toolkits B2B marketers use across the globe. They typically rely on it for nurture streams and cloning landing pages. But the tool is actually much more powerful. In fact, a little known process is driving massive improvements to the efficiency and performance of B2B campaigns. for managing & optimizing B2B campaigns. Using Marketo’s smart list capabilities, we’ve unlocked a powerful lever to further optimize digital advertising campaigns. Before we get into setting this up, let’s briefly review Marketo’s audience tracking capabilities.

Marketo Audience Tracking

One of the great things about Marketo is the powerful tracking capabilities it has to offer.
Using the platform, you can keep track of an individual and how they interact with your brand across several channels. Depending on the kinds of interactions they have with your brand, you can then give this person a ‘lead score.’
Suppose someone visits your website.
They’ll receive a ‘visited webpage’ activity within Marketo, and this could lead to them receiving five points or so. If this person then clicks on a link within this webpage, Marketo might give them another five points.
By giving everyone a lead score, it becomes easier to figure out where specific leads are in terms of the Buyer’s Journey. This then gives you a sense of which leads will be easier to close and which ones might need a little more persuasion.
It’s also worth noting that you can use Marketo to track ‘anonymous leads.’
Now, this will only happen if the anonymous lead came from a Marketo tracked email link or completed a Marketo form.
In such a scenario, we’ll only know the email address, and nothing outside of this, like the company name, or where they’re from. But as this person has more interactions with your brand, you’ll be able to transform an anonymous lead, into one you actually have a lot of information about.
This is because certain bits of information will be attributed to the lead, based on their behavior. For instance, if they fill out a form, the information from the form will be added to the lead.
These bits of information are audience attributes which can be pulled together to create something known as ‘smart lists.’

What is a Smart List?

A smart list allows you to identify people with certain attributes, in relation to all the people that have interacted with your brand.
So, imagine that over the course of a month, 10,000 people interact with your brand. Well, using a smart list, you can identify specific kinds of people that belong to this group. That might include people with certain job titles or people that belong to companies of a certain size.
There are tons of options to choose from, and you have a lot of flexibility in terms of how you want to isolate certain groups of people, within your entire database.

Using Smart Lists in Digital Advertising

Smart Lists are an easy way for digital advertisers to find unlock additional audience insights and integrate them directly into Facebook, LinkedIn & Google.
In using this Marketo integration with our LinkedIn campaigns, we’ve seen instances of an 81% lower cost per MQL. To do this we created multiple smart lists within Marketo which we then set up to automatically sync directly to LinkedIn. 
Having these lists imported automatically into the ad platforms makes it easier to nurture and target valuable leads.  We can optimize ad spend, because we know we’re targeting the right people thanks to the parameters and filters used when setting up the smart list. This amounts to improved lead quality, and thus more converted leads over time.
It also becomes a lot easier to target one set of leads, across a number of different platforms. That’s because you can push a smart list to LinkedIn, Facebook and Google Ads (there isn’t an option to use Bing at the moment).
It’s also easy to keep these lists up to date. This minimizes the amount of back and forth with a client or perhaps just another department within your business.
This is a 3 step process:

  1. Integrate Marketo With Your Chosen Ad Platform
  2. Create Smart Lists Within Marketo
  3. Push these Smart Lists to Your Chosen Ad Platforms


1. Setting up an Integration

In this section, we’re going to explore how you can set up an integration with your chosen ad platform.
The first step is integrating Marketo and your ad platforms (Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) You can think of this as setting up the ‘backend. ’ Once you’ve done this , Marketo will be able to ‘pull’ data from your chosen ad account, but also ‘push’ data to it too.
First, you need to go to the ‘Admin’ section of Marketo.
Once there, you then need to select the ‘Launchpoint’ option.
Then click on the ‘New’ tab and select ‘New Service.’
You then need to set up the service.  Here, if you click on the dropdown menu, you can select the ad platform you’d like to integrate with Marketo.
As you can see, there are many options to choose from. For this example, let’s suppose we want to integrate Marketo with a ‘FB Custom Audience.’
First, we’d need to select the FB Custom Audience option from the menu. We also need to give the service a name. It’s important to be precise here, as you may end up with a lot of services later on down the line. If you use a ‘generic’ name, you’ll find it hard to differentiate them all.  
Once you click the ‘Next’ button, you’re then asked to ‘Authorize’ the connection between the two accounts.

Upon clicking that button, you’ll be taken to Facebook (or whatever your chosen platform is), and you’ll be asked to select the account you want to work with.
Once you click the ‘Continue’ option, you then need to click ‘Ok’ so Marketo can access the data within the ad account.
You’re then asked about the kinds of data you’d like Marketo to work with.

Both options work, but it’s better to use the ‘Advanced Match’ option, simply because it allows you to access more data, and this can make it easier to create precise lists later on.
Once this is done, you should then see the service you’ve just created within the Launchpoint section. Below, you can see an example from our ad account, which relates to a LinkedIn integration.
As you might’ve noticed in the ‘details’ column, there is an ‘expiration’ date for this list. Once this integration expires, you’ll need to go through the process of setting it up again.
You should think about noting this date somewhere, and perhaps even setting up a reminder on your calendar to prevent any downtime. If you ever find the integration isn’t working, just double check that the integration is still active and that it hasn’t expired.
After completing this process, Marketo can take the data from your chosen ad platform but it can also send the data to the platform in question too. This brings us to step 2.

2. Create Smart Lists Within Marketo

The next step is to create your smart lists within Marketo, and push them into our Ad platforms.
Using this approach, you can take a large, messy database, and use smart lists to create a list of people that represent a specific audience that’s likely to convert.
As mentioned, this could be someone that’s reached the status of an MQL, or someone that belongs to a certain demographic or company size. You can then export this list and run highly relevant ads against this group, across all major ad platforms. Another strategy is to expand the audience by leveraging lookalike targeting based upon the smart list.
Let’s take a look at how you can get this done.  First, you need to go to the ‘Database’ section of your Marketo account.
You then need to create a smart list, and you can do that by clicking on ‘Group Smart Lists’ and selecting ‘New Smart List.’
Then give your list a name and click ‘Create.’
Once you’ve done this, you’ll be able to select some ‘Filters’ from the right-hand side of the screen. These filters will denote who gets added to this list and who’s left out.
Here’s an example of one of ours, which is set up to show our existing list of MQL’s. It’s appropriately titled – “ClosedLoop FY19 – MQLs.”
By clicking on the ‘Smart List’ tab, we can see the parameters we’ve set up for this list.
You can see that we’ve kept things relatively simple when it comes to defining an MQL.
That said, Marketo gives you plenty of options to select from here, so you can always create something that’s more precise than this example.

3. Push the Smart Lists to Your Chosen Ad Platforms

Now let’s look at how you can get this list into your chosen ad platform.
Within your chosen Smart List, select the ‘People’ tab and then check the number of people that belong to this list.
It’s important to do this as you need to make sure the number is high enough. Remember,  you’ll still need to stick to rules that an ad platform might have regarding list sizes. If the list size is too small, you won’t be able to use it to run ad campaigns.
So, in the case of LinkedIn, this means you’ll need to makes sure your list is composed of at least 300 people.
In any case, if the list size looks okay, we then want to import it into our chosen ad platform.
To do that, we first need to click on ‘Select all,’ and then we need to click on the image of the person standing in front of what looks like a ‘spiderweb.’
You should then see a pop-up like the one below, which asks you about the platform you’d like to work with. For the sake of this post, we’re going to select LinkedIn.
We’re then asked to select the ‘LinkedIn Audience’ you want to work with.
You can add these people to an existing list, or you can create a new list entirely. image3
You can also remove this ‘smart list’ of people, from a LinkedIn list.
This is especially helpful in regards to GDPR, in terms of responding to any ‘list removal requests’ you may receive.
If you decide to create a ‘New audience’ you need to select the relevant ad account.
You then need to give the audience a name. As touched on earlier, try to give the audience a highly specific name. You might also want to put the word Marketo in brackets, alongside the list name.
Though LinkedIn will list Marketo as the source of the list, taking this step can help prevent any mistakes.
Once you’ve done this, click ‘Update,’ and your list should now appear in your ad account! 
Now that the lists are in LinkedIn we can go about creating our remarketing or lead nurturing strategy with the security of knowing the list is always up to date and synced with Marketo.
Happy Optimizing!