How to Prepare for a Smooth Marketo Implementation

BY: Michelle Miles | Chief Client Strategy Officer at MERGE

PUBLISHED: 2/19/2020

We won’t lie: migrating to a new marketing automation platform is a big decision.

However, we also know how much there is to gain from Marketo. The impressive suite of marketing capabilities, the ability to help your organization scale — Marketo leads the pack in marketing automation solutions for enterprise organizations.


Not to mention, the possibilities for customization give you the flexibility to build out your marketing strategy the way you envisioned.  Implementing Marketo is an exhilarating time, laden with opportunity.

From our experience in over 1,500 Marketo projects, we’ve found that the smoothest implementations tend to adhere to a top-level, detailed timeline with advanced preparations before the implementation even begins.

Our own Hilary German, Senior Consultant and Marketo Certified Solutions Architect used her experience of numerous Marketo new implementations to design a four-phased approach for success. Chelsea Stinnett, Consultant and Marketo Certified Expert offers her expertise and best practices as well. Here, we outline a few key factors to help you succeed.

Building Your Marketo Implementation Timeline


Sticking to a timeline often sounds great in theory, but can become more difficult to implement once everything gets underway. The biggest hangups? Assessing your actual needs and appropriately budgeting time for each task.

“As you consider implementing new software, it can feel overwhelming,” says Chelsea Stinnett, Perkuto consultant. “The good news is that you can actually start quite a bit of work before you even sign your contract.”

What you should consider?

Assesses the Current Marketing Automation Maturity at Your Organization

level of marketing automation maturity

Organizations typically fall into one of three categories:

  • A new CRM and new Marketo Instance
  • An existing CRM and new Marketo Instance
  • Migration from existing marketing automation and CRM


Unsurprisingly, each of these categories commands a different set of questions and corresponding needs going into your implementation.

If your organization finds themselves in the first category, Hilary German, senior consultant and Marketo Certified Solutions Architect at Perkuto advises identifying which campaigns will be your starting point.


She continues to advise those in the second category, those who have an existing CRM and new Marketo instance, of the added complexity with data mapping and syncing to your CRM. “Some of the questions that you’ll need to answer are, ‘What fields are necessary to be mapped to Marketo?’ and ‘How should the sync work?’”

For those in the third category, migrating from an existing marketing automation platform and CRM, this is where you’ll have to consider data cleansing, customization, as well as the migration of those campaigns. Hilary poses the following questions to assist in your preparations:

  • What do you need to migrate — campaigns, assets, or forms?
  • And what can/should you start from scratch as you’re building your new Marketo instance?


“Let the answers to these questions serve as a starting point as you build out your timeline, and prepare for your implementation,” she advises. To assist in your efforts, Hilary has also put together a helpful implementation checklist.

Marketo Implementation Timeline Factors

level of marketing automation maturity

Of course, with all of this, there’s also a level of marketing automation maturity that should be considered that will impact your timelines.

“As you approach your Marketo implementation, identify what’s needed and your most important marketing initiatives. By deliberately prioritizing, you will build a strong foundation and a scalable Marketo instance,” notes Hilary.

Crawl, Walk, Run


Marketo suggests a “Crawl, Walk, Run” philosophy for new implementations, primarily because too many companies rush implementations out of good intentions (too excited, want to see fast ROI, etc.), only to end up with bigger problems down the road.


By taking the time to manage expectations and define roles before you begin, you can help safeguard your company from biting off more than you can chew during the actual implementation.

Aligning Expectations

Phases of a smooth Marketo implementation

Make sure that all stakeholders, from the top down, have a clear understanding of your implementation phases, timelines, and milestones. This is an important part of getting the full team on board and keeping people happy without rushing the process.

“Everyone needs to understand your Marketo implementation is a phased approach, and that it’s not going to happen in a day, or a week, or even a month,” Chelsea emphasizes. “Not to mention, certain tools will be down for a period of time while you’re rebuilding your instance, or even building an instance from scratch.” Essentially, making communication even more key.

Define Clear Roles


Teamwork makes the dream work – as long as everyone is clear on what their job is. Within your implementation timeline, be sure that clear roles have been defined for each section. Cross-departmental involvement and cooperation are vital when you launch Marketo; learn to communicate early and often from the get-go.

“You’ll need internal champions throughout your implementation, who understand the potential of the tool, who are excited about it, who are ready to jump in and learn how to use it,” Chelsea advises.

What are the critical roles needed to be successful with your implementation?

  • A Marketo champion, to assist with set-up, train new team members, and document processes
  • A sales team point person, who can make decisions regarding lead scoring
  • An IT person, to assist with CRM integration


“The great part about working with an agency is that they can do a lot of the heavy lifting for you, so you can continue with business as usual,” noted Chelsea.

Unleash the Power of Marketo


As your organization works through your implementation, remember to keep your eyes on the prize: the go-live! Post-launch, your organization will have an incredible framework from which to scale – and can do it gracefully. Best of all, all the careful preparation that you took to ensure a successful implementation will have been absolutely worth your while.


Does your organization need help achieving ROI from Marketo? Learn how the Marketo experts at MERGE can help. Contact us today!