How to Use Marketo Not Filters

Last week we discussed basic Boolean Logic for Marketers. This week we delve into the use of NOT in Marketo.

The NOT filters in Marketo:

Let’s say you want to focus on a group that did not do something. To be specific, let’s look at people who did not click OR open an email. If that is true, then we will take that group and send them a different email.

The first way is to just use the Not filters, excluding anyone with that behavior.

Not Filters Smart List

To ensure we only look at people who might have received the email in the first place. Otherwise

(Not Clicked in Email OR Not Opened Email)

Will bring us tens of thousands of leads – because a lot of people never clicked or opened that email. We just want the leads inside that Program.

Using Positive Statements to Exclude

In English class, you were probably scolded for using double negatives because they can be confusing to the reader. “The same is true in Marketo: it can be confusing to setup a system that says “If someone has not clicked or not opened an email, then do not send email X.” Invariably, these are error prone statements, resulting in incorrect segmentation.

Instead, it may make sense to use a positive, inclusive statement to exclude people. It is counterintuitive sounding, but it actually works far better in most cases.

Use this two-step process to make a negative “positive statement.”

Step 1: Setup a Smart List

Positive Smart List

Step 2: Use the Smart List to Exclude

Then we say, please show us everyone who is NOT IN the Smart List

Member of Smart List Positive Exclusion

This would be true of a trigger campaign. Let’s say you wanted to automatically move a lead from Stream 1 to Stream 2 if they did NOT click OR did NOT Open an email.

There is not a trigger method available for that, but you could setup something like

Positive Exclusion Smart List Flow

This way you say that anyone who did not click or open the email 2 days after it was delivered, move to Stream 1, everyone else stay put. If you tried to use a Not filter in a Choice Step, when you wanted to use Not OR Not, then you will cause a misfire.

Choice Steps and Not Filter Thus, quite a few folks might trigger Choice 1, but never get to Choice 2. In this situation, a positive smart list with NOT IN will better reflect your intention.

This post draws on my webinar, How to be a Marketing Automation Rockstar with my friends at RingLead. Check it out for more helpful tips.

Disclosure: Perkuto provided access to a Marketo instance for this post.

A Logic Lesson for Marketers

A marketing automation rockstar must understand basic logic.

I believe we’re all database marketers at this point. Perhaps that isn’t your title, but it is your every day reality. Even designers must consider the database with spaces for text blocks, mail merges, and other dynamic content.

Dynamic content is about segmenting your audience into increasingly smaller blocks to send the right message to the right group of people as efficiently as possible. Segmentation of the database is all about logic, especially Boolean logic.

So let’s talk about logic. I believe a marketing rockstar embraces logic to target audiences effectively. You probably have heard of Boolean logic and I won’t go into the details but there are the three key operators that you should be familiar with.

And, Or, and, Not.

Let’s try some examples based on this diagram.

Marketo Boolean Logic

  • First, Joe is a subscriber to the Blog. Blog = TRUE.
  • Second, Joe is a subscriber to Marketo’s Blog. Marketo Blog = TRUE.
  • Third, Joe is not a subscriber to HubSpot’s Blog. HubSpot Blog = FALSE.

Which campaigns does Joe qualify for?

If I use “OR” or “Any”, then either or both criteria can be true and I will qualify for the campaign, even if I am only a subscriber to the blog.

I can also qualify if I’m a subscriber to both blogs.

Not is anyone without that criteria so everybody who is not a subscriber to HubSpot’s blog will be in the blue area and if I am a subscriber I am in the white area so I will be excluded from this campaign if I use a “Not” filter.

The good news is if you understand this type of logic, you don’t necessarily have to know things like SQL queries, which can become more complex.

Common Operators in Filters

These are Marketo specific, however, you will see very similar ones in HubSpot, Pardot, and Eloqua.

Operator Description
IN The lead is IN, or a member of a List
NOT IN The lead is NOT IN, or not a member of a List
CONTAINS The field has the value somewhere
NOT CONTAINS The field does not have this value anywhere
STARTS WITH The first few characters contain this phrase, word, or number
NOT STARTS WITH The first few charactes do not contain this phrase, word, or number
IS Exact match for the value – not more or less
IS EMPTY The field is empty, or NULL. There is nothing here.
IS NOT EMPTY The field has a value of some type
Less than The number or score is less than X
Greater than The number or score is greater than X
At Least The number or score is X or above
In Past The date is within or prior to X days, months, or years
Between The value is between these two dates
On or Before The value is on this date or prior to the date
Before The value is before this date
On or After The value is on or ahead of this date
After The value is after this date
Is The date is X
Any Or is between the filters
All And is between the filters
Advanced Allows you to use parentheses with OR and AND: (1 or 2) and 3

For more details on Marketo filters and triggers, see my Marketo Filter Reference Document.

Stay tuned for more on Not filters next week.