Marketo: The Potential of Engagement Maps

Marketo: The Potential of Engagement Maps

August 2023 | Marketing Technology

Marketo has a new way to view smart campaign workflows. Engagement Maps have potential, but won't become truly useful until next year.

The usability of the Marketo user interface has long been a subject which divides opinion. In the early days of marketing automation, Marketo was considered very easy to use. Over time, the likes of Eloqua and Pardot radically redesigned their platforms to improve their ease of use. Not so for Marketo, which at a basic level, still works the same way it always has.

The big difference between Marketo and the competition is how workflows are designed and built. Hubspot and Eloqua use Visio-style workflow editors, while Marketo does not. Pardot has a hybrid approach, but engagement programs do allow users to build branching workflows using an editor with a visual layout.

Features such as executable campaigns have made it easier to link multiple smart campaigns in Marketo over the years. However, smart campaigns are still fundamentally linear in design and are merely a list of steps in both design and execution. Even some experienced users struggle with the differences between triggers and filters, as well as between choices and constraints. While Marketo is simple in concept, it looks complicated to non-technical marketers while limiting the kind of workflows that can be created.

Launch Hype

Consequently, there was a fair amount of excitement when Adobe announced the launch of Engagement Maps a few months ago. At last, there would be a way to present a Marketo program as a visual workflow diagram akin to Visio. Sure, it would be limited at launch, but at least it was a first move towards a more marketer-friendly user experience.

Last week, the Engagement Map feature actually launched to all Marketo customers, and so far, the usefulness of the feature is minimal. It's still early days, and even Adobe acknowledged that the real benefits of Engagement Maps wouldn't be seen just yet. This was just a phase one. The ability to edit an engagement map won't be available until early next year. That's when the full potential of the feature will really be seen.

At the moment, Engagement Maps serve as an interesting sneak peek into the likely future of the Marketo user interface. However, they're actually a somewhat convoluted way of viewing or presenting a smart campaign. When presenting a campaign to a non-technical user, the better option is still to use the overview screen with its text summary of the flow. For one thing, the export option doesn't always export the entire detail of the flow. Steps with choices can be collapsed and can not be exported when in this state. Also, the step description is sometimes cut off.

Future Potential

There are two areas where I think Engagement Maps will be particularly helpful over time. Firstly, it will help people understand the full power of step choices. This is functionality which is typically underused when building smart campaigns - partly because it is difficult to visualise the full impact of choices in a flow. It's common for people to create multiple smart campaigns instead of using step choices or smart list constraints, both of which are much easier to use when presented as workflow branches in a visual manner.

The other main benefit of the Engagement Map can be used right now. They include full details of Execute Campaign steps, which isn't the case in the regular UI. When an Execute Campaign step is used, the Engagement Map includes all the steps of the executable campaign being requested. This is massively helpful when reviewing smart campaigns that use this feature. I tend to use executable campaigns only for reusable flows that need to be triggered from multiple places in Marketo, such as data normalisation or lead routing flows. However, it can be difficult to fully QA workflows that include them, because the actual steps don't appear in the parent workflow. Engagement Map fixes this problem.

Widespread adoption of the Engagement Map UI will need to wait until the editing capabilities are rolled out next year. From a personal perspective, I would expect to start using them at that point. Hopefully, Adobe will look at better integrating Engagement Maps into the Marketo product at that time. At the moment, they're launched by a blue button in the Smart Campaign menu bar, which makes them look like an afterthought rather than an integral part of the Marketo Engage product. Until then, the use case for them is limited to a small number of sharing scenarios. It's a pity, as they have huge potential.

Banner Photo by ali elliott / Unsplash

Written by
Marketing Operations Consultant and Solutions Architect at CRMT Digital specialising in marketing technology architecture. Advisor on marketing effectiveness and martech optimisation.