How to Setup an Automated RSS-to-Email Feed in Marketo

I bet one of the things you were looking forward to with Marketo (or any marketing automation platform (MAP)), is automating your blog newsletter. You built a huge list with near daily content updates and yet – it is entirely manual process. You hired a marketer to help manage this process, but it still takes her 4 hours to format the email, test it, process the list, and make sure everything is agency level perfect.

Now you can go from 4 hours to automatic with Digesto – the latest Launchpoint app for Marketo. This is a very new service launched at the Marketo Summit in April and is saving hundreds of hours of productivity across the marketing world. Before we go into how to setup your Digesto system, I will disclose that I work at Perkuto would love to see all Marketo users with RSS feeds buy this tool. That being said, I do not get a special bonus for this post.

Most marketing and social gurus suggest setting up a corporate blog and asking people to provide an email address to receive updates whenever the blog is updated. Building your house email list is a critical part of successful content marketing, especially B2B nurturing. When I work with clients, I always recommend using the blog email list as the foundation for a newsletter and for further nurturing.

Ultimately, automating your blog feed is part of your revenue marketing strategy because it keeps your list active and it saves you time for other activities.

How to Setup Digesto to Save Time and Money

Setting up your first Digesto feed could take as little as 30 minutes or as long as two hours, depending how much you need to test. For this small investment of time, you get a lifetime of hours back.

Here is a diagram of what happens in the system.

digesto-system-perkutoWhat You Need to Start:

  • RSS Feed URL

The RSS feed is simply a URL. Digesto supports standard RSS and Atom protocols, so I doubt you will encounter any issues.

rss-iconIf you do not know your RSS feed URL, hover over your RSS icon, Right Click, press Copy Link.

Find Your RSS Link

Marketing Rockstar Guides’ RSS feed is:

http://feeds.feedburner.com/MarketingRockstarGuides

If you cannot find the RSS link or icon, ask your IT person or whoever runs the blog to look for you. They can help you turn it on.

In Digesto, a single RSS-to-Email system is known as a “Digest.” That is one RSS feed sent to a specific list of members at a specific schedule. You can have up to 5 Digests per account. If you need separate Digests by language, region, or time, you can do that too.

  • Marketo SOAP API – how do you get this?

You will need to find the SOAP endpoint and encryption key. The Digesto tool has a video explaining how to find this, but I’ll just tell you:

Go to Admin > Integration > SOAP API

Marketo soap-api-example

Note: do not share your Endpoint and Encryption Key in public!

If you have Marketo Spark, you do not have access to the API, so you will have to upgrade to use Digesto.

  • Your Blog/Newsletter List

This can be a smart list, static, or whatever as long as you have one. You do have blog subscribers, right?

If not, start now by adding a simple Marketo Form with two fields:

blog-form-example

Note that I disabled pre-fill on the hidden fields, lest my intention be overridden.

  • Marketo Program

You will need one Program for each RSS feed you want to automate. Standard Digesto accounts allow up to 5 “Digests”.

  • Email Template

I recommend using the most basic template you have, just 1 column with any standard header and footer you desire. If you have a special Newsletter/Blog Template, you can use that too.

Ok, let’s set this up.

Step 1: Program Setup

Digesto is driven by a combination of Program and Tokens. This program can be an Email Blast or an Email Send program, it is up to you.

Digesto Program Tokens

Remember to add the items under Setup, especially Period Costs.

Digesto Program Period Costs

Step 2: Tokens

In the Program, go to My Tokens and create the following three tokens:

rich-text-token-explainedRich Text:

{{my.DigestoEmailContent}}

= this brings in the body of your Post as HTML.

rich-text-token-default

Rich Text: {{myDIgestoEmailContentText}} = this brings in the body of your Post as text for the Text version.

Text: {{my.DigestoEmailSubject}} = this places your Posts’s Title into the email’s subject line. You can control what appears here in your Digesto Account.

Each Token should simply say, “Default” in the editor.

Local Tokens Complete

I would avoid using Campaign Folder Tokens because these may conflict if you are using multiple RSS feeds (Digests).

Step 3: The Email

Of course, you need an email to be able to send anything. So create an email within the Program. I recommend keeping the Template choice simple, as there are limited formatting options with Digesto. A nice template with your logo, colors, footer, etc. is good. I recommend keeping it to one column if you can.

  • You can modify the email’s CSS in line, but this needs testing.
  • You cannot change the DIVs now

There’s not much else to do for the email. Remember to approve it after you tested the basic format. You will get a chance to Test the RSS feed later.

Digesto Email TokensStep 4: The Send Campaign

At this point you will have something that looks a bit like this:

digesto-program-tree

Remember, this is a Batch campaign. Set it to let Leads run through every time. Do not schedule it – it is not necessary.

Step 5: Digesto Account Setup

Login to your Digest account. You can do this with a free trial or with a paid account. Each Digesto account can handle up to 5 separate RSS feeds (you will need 5 separate Marketo Programs).

1. Login to Digesto

digesto-login

2. Click on an existing Digest or Press New

Digesto Digest View

3. Program Name: enter the exact Program Name you created in Marketo.

edit-digest-top

4. Campaign Name: enter the exact name for the campaign you created to send the email.

5. Test Campaign Name: if you created a Test Campaign and List, enter it here. You can go back to Marketo anytime to add this.

6. Digest Name: what name do you want to see in Digesto?

7. RSS Feed: any RSS feed URL you want.

8. Max number of Posts: how many posts do you want to appear in each email? Normally I recommend 1 per email, but some firms prefer a newsletter approach with 3-5 per email. I only recommend that if you are sending once a week.

9. Schedule

edit-digest-schedule-bottom10. Notification – do you want to receive an email each time the Digest goes out? (this will also notify you if a Digest runs without any new content – but it won’t send out an email).

A Word About Schedules

Displayed below is a schedule for a feed that will trigger an email whenever a new post hits your blog. The email can only go out Monday-Friday at any of the three times.

If you prefer to send this newsletter each week at 7:00AM, then change to Weekly and the day(s) you wish to send on.

For a schedule closer to real time, you can add up to 12 hourly sends on every day of the week. There is a great deal of flexibility in this scheduler, so try it out.

Step 6: Digesto Test System

What about testing the feed?

Digesto thought of that too! There is a test system. If you entered the Test Campaign Name in Step 5, you are ready to use the Test button.

In Marketo, clone your Send Campaign and add “TEST” to it so you know it is different.

Digesto Test Campaign Tree

Now this TEST list displayed should only be a list of internal staff or seeds, so it is a good idea to either use a Static List like I did here, or to use

Email Address = [List of Emails]

test-campaign-smart-list

test-campaign-flow

To ensure the test works, be sure to take the test campaign name and add it to the Digest as shown above.

Go back to Digesto and press Test:

digest-details-and-test

Here are examples of what the emails could look like:

RSS Email Example

Step 7: Launch, go have a Strawberry Daiquiri

Once you have finalized your list and are happy with the test results, go into Digesto’s main screen.

Press ON.

digesto-on

Add content to your blog and watch the results fly in!

Here’s a completed system in Marketo:

Complete Digesto System in Marketo

And that’s it! Now you have automated your blog emails via Marketo. You have achieved end-to-end reporting on new Known Leads through to Opportunities. You can also see how blog emails are influencing Opportunities using smart lists and the Opportunity Analyzer.

Perkuto is offering free, 14-day trials. Let us know what you think in the comments below:

The Quick Guide for Marketing Automation Success

Whether you are just starting your marketing automation journey or you’re ramping up to crush next quarter’s goals, there are some solid tips and tricks to achieve marketing automation success. I’ve worked in marketing automation for a number of years, and while success requires a lot of moving parts, these tips will help you get there.

Ensure Alignment with Sales and Other Departments

The best project outcomes I have seen are when the project lead is embedded within Marketing and works at the intersection of Marketing, Sales, and Technology. This ensures alignment across disciplines.

Sales and Marketing will be on board quickly, so start there. Billing teams are system critical to the business and will need reassurance and careful work to bring them into marketing automation.

A Phased Approach with a Vision Works Best

Marketing automation is powerful and can touch many functions. Take a phased approach.

  1. Know all the systems.
  2. Which systems and teams need this now?
  3. Which can use it later?
  4. What is the impact?

When I first implemented Marketo, I often found myself a bit out of step with the rest of the firm. And by out of step, I mean I was way ahead because I had fully embraced revenue marketing and the rest of the firm was not quite ready. So I stepped back and courted each group with what was in it for them whenever possible.

  • Sales – better leads, better information on what they need, and they are closer to buying…at least that was the vision.
  • Marketing – I will automate all of the drudgery and liberate you to run real programs and nurturing. You will look awesome.
  • IT – please just setup the CNAME :)
  • Web Technology – we’d like to track lead behavior and setup our own forms so we don’t bug you anymore. We won’t interfere with things like Omniture and Google Analytics – we promise!
  • SFDC Admins – we need your help with integration and we’ll help you increase usage.

Get Buy In From Sales, then Technology

Obtaining buy-in from each group and each team leader is key to your early success. Buy-in is crucial from the heads of Sales, Marketing, and Technology.

As you can see above, you do need to consider where each team is coming from, what they need, and what their goals might be. I’d like to think the CEO would help align us all, but the reality is each team has specific goals that aren’t obviously linked to your marketing automation project. Help other team leaders make the leap to understand why this is important and why this might even help them reach their goals:

  • Sales – make more calls and calls that lead to Opportunities and Won Sales each month.
  • Marketing – save time and focus on content, testing, and nurturing.
  • Web/Tech – marketing will be able to handle more requests without you. More lead tracking will enhance existing analytics tools. Be careful that you don’t steal their thunder.
  • Product Management – easier to send out surveys, use tracking data on site and in product. Even trigger in product emails to increase usage.
  • Operations and Finance – (usually last on my list) – automate invoices and notices.

Include the Client Facing Teams and the Customer

A successful roll out needs to include the customer lifecycle and which teams own each stage of that lifecycle. For example:

  • Stage 1: Web, Marketing Communications
  • Stage 2: Demand Generation, Content, and Sales
  • Stage 3: Customer Onboarding
  • Stage 4: Account Management and Billing

Remember that your goal is to help the customer do something they believe is critical enough to pay you for. If you just automate emails, you become a spammer. Whenever you design a workflow, form, or page design it with the customer in mind. You are there to help them and any way you can remove barriers for a lead, you both win.

This is why MAP features like progressive profiling and data appending are crucial to the customer experience. If you can make it easier for the lead to fill out less information, or already know who they are, then you saved someone a few seconds. A few seconds over tens of thousands of leads saves a lot of hours of work. Those seconds also take the hesitation out of providing contact information in exchange for content.

Include your CRM Admin

Remember to work with your CRM Admin (if you have one) to map out existing fields, field values, and any new fields required. A few key questions should help the conversation.

  • What do you need to track?
  • Who is responsible for what?
  • Which reports do you want the system to spit out?

Then work backward to determine what else you need in the system.

Let Leads be Themselves

Consider having a free text ‘Job Title’ field where leads provide their real title – the one that makes them feel good. Then ask for a ‘Role’ or ‘Seniority’ field which is your main segmentation bucket. If you really want to take the burden off the lead, run data management flows to map this data automatically. You can use tools like RingLead, Demandbase, and ReachForce.

Clean Your Data Automatically

Dedupe and clean up your CRM before you connect your marketing automation system. Be sure to have the CRM enforce data quality through dupeblockers, ISO Country Picklists, and required fields.

Then make a list of key data that can be managed automatically or standardized to avoid re-work. Common candidates for this treatment are:

  • Country and State: best to define CRM picklists and Form picklists, but you can automate fixes too.
  • Lead Source: revise your picklist and make sure your Forms are stamping leads properly. If you have to, data flows can monitor and update bad values.
  • Subscription Management: design a compliant system and automatically update lists to have accurate counts for easy sending.
  • Competitors – screen and block competitors.

Aim Toward the Vision, Get Big Wins Done First

If you are starting from scratch, focus on the big automation wins such as lead routing, data appending and management, and lead scoring. These are still the mainstays of marketing automation platforms like Marketo. Don’t let your system become a glorified email service provider – use your MAP to save huge time and then use that time for heavy duty lead nurturing.

Once you’ve mastered these key marketing automation skills, check out the ebook I wrote with RingLead, The Newcomer’s Guide to Marketing Automation, for even more insight.

If you want to hear more, join me for a special webinar to become a Marketing Automation Rockstar.

How to Be a Marketing Automation Rockstar - Webinar July 14 2014