3 Simple Fixes for Complex MarTech Issues

April 19 2019

3 Simple Fixes for Complex MarTech Issues

WARNING: The article you are about to read is full of nerdy marketing technology subjects, terms and unforgivably bad puns. If you are NOT a MarTech geek, enter at your own risk.

Have you noticed this growing trend of companies boasting their marchitecture bloat? I can’t help but think of a fly bragging about the web it’s trapped in. But I get it.

In a culture that’s all about the next/best/coolest platform, it’s easy to lose sight of the original goal: simplify. The thing is, you don’t always need the next/best/coolest platform to do that.

Here are a few ways you can use common applications to simplify complex issues that crop up in your enterprise MarTech environment.

Making Critical Connections with Cross-Domain Authentication

#1—Who’s Doing What?

Making Critical Connections with Cross-Domain Authentication


The Skinny

Picture this: Your client has invested heavily in developing a website that drives plenty of traffic to rich, valuable content. What makes the content so valuable? The insights you can glean from tracking prospect and customer browsing activity, of course.

Because browsing data is a powerful thing. Show me someone’s browsing activity and I can uncover their inner thoughts. Armed with their inner thoughts, we can serve up meaningful, personalized messages that really move the needle.

Unless of course you can’t tie browsing activity to the person doing the browsing. Then the data is damn near-useless, and all that investment is wasted.


The Deets

Case in point, one of our clients had rich web content gated behind their online portal. But the way the gate was implemented through the portal platform was keeping visitors’ browsing activity data from connecting with known records in their Marketing Automation Platform (MAP). This created a huge leak in lead scoring, qualification, prioritization and sales insights.

The user experience was fine. While browsing, visitors were prompted to log in to the portal. Then, after logging in, they were redirected back to the page they were originally browsing.

But under the hood, there was a disconnect. The MAP was tracking the anonymous browsing information, but the portal platform was creating records from login form fills and syncing those records to the MAP separately.

Translation: The MAP knew the “what” (browsing activities) and the “who” (known records) but it couldn’t make the vital connection between the two to determine who was doing what.


The Simple Approach

Our client’s other vendors recommended they pay to track an additional domain. In reality, all we had to do was trigger the submission of a second, invisible/blind form on the portal page. That blind form belonged to the MAP, eliminating the portal platform as the go-between and creating records directly in the MAP so that PRESTO! Tracked anonymous activities could be associated with records once they became known.

Martech chart

The Takeaway

The interesting thing about a problem like this is that it’s really difficult to detect—no alarms go off anywhere when it crops up. So when multiple platforms are in the mix, pay close attention to the way data is flowing around and within them. If it’s flowing in the wrong direction, odds are you’re not getting the maximum value out of it.


#2—Tag, You’re It!

The Best DAM Email Testing & Optimization Technique Ever


The 411

Who doesn’t love a good A/B test? Heck, or even an A/B/C test! But what happens when you get up into the Q/R/S range, testing so many variables that it becomes hard to keep track of them all?

We ran into this when optimizing Oracle’s outbound email program. The creative was stale. The list was cold. The bar was low. It was the perfect opportunity to test everything from send logistics to CTA characteristics to subject line details.

But while a lot of MAPs allow for email testing, the standard reporting that comes with it isn’t always helpful. Opens, clicks and conversions matched to a campaign name alone will only take you so far—no matter how much of a naming convention nerd you are. In other words, the data is only as good as its metadata or tagging, a digital asset manager (DAM)-like feature that MAPs have yet to embrace.


The Simple Approach

There are expensive ways to solve this problem—implementing content platforms, establishing data feeds, building BI dashboards, etc. Instead, we created a minimum viable product—a library of tagged assets (AKA, spreadsheet) [MN4] to augment standard Eloqua reporting. It was a low-tech but effective system that methodically tracked the dozens of variables we were testing, which streamlined the process of finding the perfect settings for each.

The Simple Approach

Over the course of a few months, we were able to maximize engagement by optimizing day and time of send, number and type of assets promoted, CTA design and copy, subject line characters, messaging and personalization—and more.


The Takeaway

Naming conventions are great, but they can’t capture all the details that impact performance. Don’t be afraid to branch out and use tagging to manage information in a more intuitive, useful way.


#3—Never Forget Your First Touch.

A Story About Love, Loss and Using Marketo System Fields for Proper Source Attribution


The Tea

It’s a tale as old as time. Marketo system fields intended to indicate first-touch source attribution are a mess—unpopulated, non-standardized or flat-out nonexistent. It’s a tragedy. Or perhaps a travesty? I don’t feel like Googling the difference, but you get the idea.

First-touch attribution tells us what channels and programs are bringing new names into Marketo. Not only does this help us determine what’s working and what’s not, it can inform how we treat people new to the database. A media-sourced person might need a top-of-funnel introduction, while a person who met us for the first time at last week’s tradeshow is already familiar with our company and might need a much quicker intro (that includes an opt-in invitation).

Improper Source Attribution

Yet, despite the abundance of articles, blog posts and documentation on how important this process is and how to effectively set it up, a number of circumstances get in the way: Changes in system ownership, evolving requirements, aging processes Frankensteined against updated campaign executions—the list goes on.


The Simple Approach

Whether you’re starting with a clean slate or dealing with an existing catastrophe, Marketo has several system-managed fields that come standard in every instance that can help.

I treat these System Fields as the ultimate source of truth regarding where someone really came from. If you’re doubting your team’s assumptions, take a look at the breakdown of your database by Registration Source Type.

For example, if you’re under the impression that most of your database comes from a particular web form or media program, but 70 percent of the database shows a Registration Source Type of Salesforce.com, there’s a chance something is off (depending on your processes, sync, configuration and a thousand other caveats).

Here’s a shortlist of the fields we find most useful. (For a complete list, see Marketo’s documentation.)


Marketo System Field

Example Values



Registration Source Type


List Import


Web Form Fillout


This categorizes how the person became known to Marketo.


—Registration Source Info


<List name>

Lead or Contact

<Form name>



The asset associated to Registration Source Type



Original Source Type


Web Page Visits



This categorizes where the person was first tracked.


—Original Source Info


URL of the web page


The asset associated to Original Source Type



The Takeaway

Don’t spend time reinventing ways to do things your MAP already does. Get to know your platform and work smarter—not harder.


The Bottom Line?

Mo’ Tech = Mo’ Problems. I hope these examples inspire you to lean into the tools you already have and stay true to your simplicity-focused roots.

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