Multi-Session webinars in Marketo.. you might be doing it wrong?

At times you have to setup webinars with multiple sessions, sometimes to cover multiple time zones, sometimes to give user flexibility to join the webinar on different dates and times.

How you do this setup in Marketo, when you have same topic, same speakers but multiple sessions of the same webinar? Take a pause and think…

Common practices:

I have seen people doing it in following ways:

  1. Creating a Parent event program and then creating multiple event programs for each webinar session
  2. Creating a parent Engagement program with nested event programs one for each session

If you are doing any of the above, you are doing more harm than adding any value…


If you are using approach #1, i.e. Creating a Parent event program and then creating multiple event programs for each webinar session, with this approach,

  • people create all local assets in the parent program i.e. Landing Page, Web-form, Emails, Smart Lists, Smart Campaign etc
  • Add the registrants from this parent program to the respective child webinar program.
  • Sync the child program with Event Partner and SFDC campaign
  • The parent will not be synced with any of the systems.
  • Since the registration is coming through a form whcih is a child asset of the parent program, by default Marketo consider the registrant as the member of the parent program as well
  • If the lead is net new, the acquisition program will be the parent program.

Now there will be following issues with this approach:

  • Lead is registering only for one webinar but the it’s getting membership in two webinar type of programs
  • It might create an extra interesting moment (depends on your setup)
  • It might add double lead score to the lead (depends on your setup)
  • With wrong, lead score, it might trigger false MQLs and you know what will happen after that
  • The attribution of the program to revenue will be divided in this extra program, whcih is wrong

Now let’s consider the second approach, Creating a parent Engagement program with nested event programs one for each session. Let’s revise the purpose of Engagement programs. Engagement programs are used to setup drip and nurture campaigns where you wanted to send a continuous stream of emails based on the user behavior to keep them engaged. You should not be using engagement programs as a folder. The issues with this will be:

  • There is a limit of 100 active engagement programs in Marketo. If you are using these programs and activating it, you will not be able to use this functionality for it’s actual usage
  • It will cause confusion for the new Marketo users to understand which one is your real engagement program
  • It may cause issues with the reports as well as you will see a list of whole bunch of engagement programs in there
  • It will impact the productivity while creating smart lists or doing some data analysis.

The Best Approach

If you think about it, we need a parent program just to avoid the duplication of the assets and easy organization. So the purpose of the parent program is just to handle the operational side of it. It doesn’t need to be an event program. Right?

With that, you may already have “Operational” channel setup for “Default” program type. If not go ahead and create one. For those who doesn’t know much about “Operational” Channel, at times you need to create a program just to handle some operational stuff like setting up lead scoring, data cleaning and data management, lead assignment rule etc etc. Since these type of activities are not tied to any specific type of Marketing initiative, we create an “Operational” channel for Default program type and use that. The benefits of using Operational channels are:

  • All the programs with “Operational” channel will be excluded from syncing to RCA
  • You can easily suppress these programs by applying channel filter in your program performance reporting
  • Based on the channel, you can easily exclude these programs from any smart list or smart campaigns
  • You can easily exclude the program membership of these programs getting additional scores and additional interesting moments
  • It will be crystal clear for everyone using Marketo to understand which programs are being used for what purpose.

With the above definition, don’t you think it will be a great idea to use “Operational” program as the parent program and then create session specific Event programs?

Comment and share what you think and if there is any question/concern/suggestion to make this even better.

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