I’ve seen more and more questions about Workspaces and Lead Partitions in Marketo recently and want to provide a framework for helping you decide if the overhead of managing these is worth it. Sometimes it is, sometimes it is not. Workspaces are a special feature that must be enabled and paid for. Even Enterprise instances will require a separate payment or request to activate (usually).
What is a Workspace?
Think of a Workspace as a desk or play area for marketers. Workspaces mostly cordon off assets and Leads from other marketers. The most basic way to think of it is a Master Folder area. Remember how good naming and organization can help keep a Marketo instance clean? A Workspace is a next level up in the Tree. In fact, everyone has a Default Workspace at the top of the list. Most of us have just one Workspace that’s effectively invisible.
Workspaces can “see” Lead Partitions. Again, most of us have one Workspace with one Lead Partition. But some of us need to have some marketers use a separate play space as well as see different kinds of Leads.
Remember that a Workspace is more akin to a “space to do marketing activities,” while a Lead Partition is a division of your database that requires a deliberate action for a Lead to move across barriers to a different LP. Lead Partitions do not live inside a Workspace, even if that is effectively what happens in many cases. Here are some diagrams to help.
Rules for Workspaces
Please be sure to read the official docs for more details. Workspaces are as powerful as they can be frustrating when the rules aren’t followed. Here are a few of the key rules to understand.
- Assets can be shared between WS. This is a great way to share Templates, but it has limitations.
- Default WS usually has access to all LPs and this is recommended so you can setup a central system to manage global leads. (There are some cases where you may not want to).
- WS can see more than one LP if desired.
- WS users and assets and campaigns can only see the Leads for the LPs it has access to. (This is critical! A lead will not trigger a campaign in a Workspace that has no access to it).
- Segmentations can be shared, but only 20 can exist in the entire instance.
- Filling out a Form in a WS means the Lead can only be in that WS/LP combination (see rules).
Best Practices with Workspaces
- Center of Excellence: share master Program Templates in a Center of Excellence WS with an empty LP. Give access to all marketers to clone over Programs from this space.
- Design Studio: share master assets in a Shared Template folder in the COE.
- Default WS: ensure that Default has access to all LPs and has a central LP routing system in addition to the Admin Lead Partition Router.
Workspace Features and Functions
Workspace Assets can only act on Leads which it can see
This means that if you have a smart campaign, Form, smart list, etc…it will only react to Leads in the Lead Partitions accessible to that Workspace. Global triggers should live in the Default or Global Workspace that has access to all Lead Partitions. For example, if you have an EMEA lifecycle system, and a Lead lives in the Americas, the EMEA lifecycle won’t process that Americas Lead, unless the EMEA workspace can see the Americas Lead Partition.
Sharing Assets Across Workspaces
It is best practice to manage Asset sharing with a Center of Excellence WS where you can place Globally used Program Templates, Smart Lists, and other Assets like Email or Page Templates. Other users will come in and clone or reference these. One of the big pain points here is if the Sharing rules aren’t quite perfect (like forgetting to share the folder to all the Workspaces.
People also get caught up when they use a shared Segmentation or Smart List. The rules may be global, but the data returned will only be for the Leads visible to that Workspace. If your Workspace can only see one LP, then it will only return leads from that LP.
Sharing Segmentations Across Workspaces
A neat way to manage data is Segmentations. You can have 20 across the instance, and it is usually ideal to build Segmentations in the Default Workspace, then to share them across all Workspaces. Share Master Segmentations across all WS, however, save at least 10 for local WS use. It is helpful to name Segmentations with the WS name in which they originate, so most will look like:
Default - Language Europe - Country
What is a Lead Partition?
A Lead Partition is a section of the Marketo database. A simple, but inaccurate way, is to think of a Lead Partition as one database table, separate from other Lead Partitions. If you have more than one Lead Partition (LP), you effectively have several databases that are mutually exclusive. In reality, the LP isn’t a separate database, but the system treats it almost that way.
Rules for Lead Partitions:
- A lead can exist in only one LP at a time.
- Cannot have email address dupes across the system (Marketo throws an error)
- Can move a Lead between LPs.
- An LP can be seen by more than one Workspace.
When creating the WS/LP for the first time, you should create the Lead Partitions first, then the Workspaces.
Lead Partition Routing System
When you first setup WS and LPs, you should also setup the central Admin Lead routing tool. This works a little bit as a backup, however, please do not rely on it. It works ok if you are routing leads based on Country or a specific field that will be available on the initial Form or creation. Thus, it becomes a two step process to ensure leads get to the right Partitions.
Option 1: leave everyone in the Default LP for routing by a smart campaign.
Option 2: route by the same rules in Admin and Smart Campaign
Either should work, although I find the smart campaign is more effective. In a thread with Marketo Champ Dan Stevens, we discuss some of the ways to consider a central routing for Leads as well as caveats with WS Asset and LP access.
List Import and Data Processing Considerations
Leads are deduped in Marketo by email address. A lead can exist in one LP at a time. On a List Import, Marketo will throw an error if it sees that a lead has a dupe in another LP that this Workspace does not have access to. It will NOT attempt to move the Lead or update it. You can see the errors on the little post-import error box by downloading the error list.
Typical Use Cases
When should you consider a Workspace+Lead Partition as a solution to a problem? There are several primary use-cases as well as a few needs that may prompt this conversation.
- You want to prevent campaigns of Type A touching Leads of Type B.
- Put up walls between Teams, Countries, Divisions, or Groups.
I urge you to think through it carefully because Workspaces cost money and cost a lot of time to build out and manage. It absolutely can be worth it when done well.
Multi-Country Regional Division
Let’s say your firm is in 30 countries and divides up work by Americas, EMEA, and Asia. But you have Marketing and Sales Teams divided by Region, not individual countries. In this case, you may just want Region or Country Workspaces depending on the size, rules, or importance of the Country. Ideally, this mapping is Regional Marketing Team : Regional Divisions to keep the system well-governed. The challenge if you wanted to have a single Country, single Team matrix with more than 20 or 30 countries. Marketo can do this, but it becomes unwieldy eventually. If there are that many countries, it may be best to use Regional Marketo instances divided by Country Workspaces.
Multiple, but separately run Business Units or Divisions
Another common option is to use one Marketo instance across the firm, but each BU gets a separate WS and LP. This setup is usually ok as long as the data systems run well and there’s little cross-sell to worry about.
Multi-Brand Cross Sell: Most of the Nation threads on Workspaces is when people divide up BUs with Workspaces, and then want to cross-sell but retain a single Lead record and have the different brands communicate to that person. In this situation, you may want to use a single LP with multiple Workspaces. You may also just want to keep one WS+LP and not trouble yourself with the extra work. As long as you can identify records effectively and work with counterparts at other brands, cross-sell can be managed without overwhelming the Lead.
Restrict Access to Data: Country
With all the different privacy rules around the world, some firms may need to restrict data access to marketers only in that Country. Of course, the data itself may reside in the US, EU, or another data center, so Lead Partitions do not resolve the physical location question, only the access levels. If your legal team truly needs physical location separation, you should discuss this with your Marketo Account Manager and SalesOps. You could buy separate instances instead, but there are likely issues with that too.
Restrict Access to Data: Prospects vs. Customers vs. Partners vs. Employees
It is possible to compartmentalize data by Record Type (Lifecycle Type) and Marketer Role. You could even add Employee information as part of your Internal Comms strategy (although I don’t recommend it).
When separating out records by Lifecycle Stage or Type, it helps to be able to clearly identify the record. You can use fields or Account fields to help identify Prospects vs. Customers. Firms that also have Partners or Channels should setup clear rules not just with Account Type=Partner, but Record Type ID (in SFDC) as well as properly managed child relationships. That way, as soon as a person is identified as belonging to a Partner, they can be shifted to the correct Lead Partition and away from those aggressive acquisition marketers. 😉
Some firms also want to keep marketers in each group out of each other’s hair as much as they want to separate those communication types. A solid WS+LP setup is one way to prevent toe stepping or mis-sends. We’ve all had those moments where that smart list filter didn’t save as NOT IN “Customer List” and we send a 20% discount to every client. (oops). With a WS for Customers, it becomes nearly impossible for Demand Gen to send an email to a Customer because they simply don’t have access. It’s only as foolproof as your data governance, of course.
To properly compartmentalize access and data, you would then provide only Acquisition Marketers in Japan with access to the JP-Prospects Workspace. Their activities would not be able to access Customers or non-Japan data. This is easily done in Admin > Users. As you can see, the major pitfall here is we have 15 Workspaces and we’ve only covered a few company locations. What happens when we add APAC or Middle East & Africa?
A variation on this use-case is to divide records by Record Type or Persona. For example, a healthcare firm might use separate WS/LPs for Patients, Doctors, and Distributors. Think through your scenarios very carefully before implementing because it is very hard to course correct once data is flowing.
RCM and Multi-Workspace Systems
Depending on your Use Case, you may have one or more Revenue Cycle Models per Workspace. When you have multiple RCMs, you thus have multiple campaigns running and managing the Lead Lifecycle. This can add overhead to your instance’s ability to process data. It’s not always a big deal, but the only way to watch this is from the Default WS that can see all of the campaigns running. You may also need to spend more time turning off old things to keep the instance humming.
Fortunately, the WS can only see the Leads in the LPs you have access to, so it becomes very much a separate Lifecycle, which you can tailor to each Country or Use case. In RCE, you will be able to divide the data by WS or Partition, or just by the individual Model very easily. There are a few tips:
- Lead Lifecycle/RCM – do your best to use the same or similar setup for each WS. It’s ok to have different MQL thresholds, but the process your marketers follow should be similar enough to compare Regional performance.
- Add Fields: add a Lead Partition and Model Name field to your database and sync it to SFDC. This can help track back issues later as well as divide up data more easily.
- Add WS Tag to your Programs – will help you divide data later in RCE.
Caveats and Pitfalls
Dealing with the Cross Partition Dupes and possible solution with a Custom Duplicate Rule. As a rule, it is difficult to deal with Dupes in this situation. If you are going to use WS/LPs, then be fairly certain the Leads won’t come in from multiple forms in different Workspaces. You can get around this with Purposeful Dupes and the Custom Rule.
Workspaces and LPs do not allow multiple SFDC Instances. Marketo is a 1-1 relationship with SFDC. You can use SFDC’s own Partition rules such that the Workspace in Marketo aligns to the Partition in SFDC. A good example is Workspaces by Region or Country where SFDC doesn’t allow individual users to see or work with other Regions’ records. Marketo itself isn’t really impacted as long as the Marketo User can still see everything. Only your LP rules will route the leads to the matching Partitions in Marketo.
Subscription Centers – usually you should do this Globally because if someone unsubscribes, they unsubscribe across the entire instance. Dan Stevens wrote a little about this. What I’ve done in the past is put the Subscription Center in the Default WS, which uses Dynamic Content to display the Form in several languages based on the Language Segmentation. It’s critical that this Form lives in the Default-Global Workspace that can see all data. If not, it will be unable to properly update records. Even if you decide to keep a Subscription Center locally, you should still offer a Global version on your Global website or as a backup.
Problems with Cloning and Sharing Assets: whether you use the COE or not, this can be a frustrating area to handle because if an Asset tries to reference an Asset it can’t see in another Workspace, you’ll get an error. Make sure your folder sharing rules are correct and be ready to just paste a Template back in somewhere.
User Access: Once Workspaces are live, you must go into Admin > Users to adjust each person’s access. Most users should have access to a single Workspace. Some may have several Workspaces, or even different access levels to different Workspaces. Only Admins or Local Admins should be granted high level or multiple Workspace access. You may even want Read Only access.
Adding WS naming to your organization – makes a big difference. I always recommend adding a Workspace code to all Programs and Assets. This will be useful when using RCE that sees all Workspaces as well as ensuring naming references are consistent to avoid confusion. Marketo still requires every asset to have a unique name across the Instance.
Too many WS and LPs. As a global admin, it may become difficult to manage by yourself. Have strong local admins who understand how to manage their WS without you.
Removing Workspaces and Partitions – during setup, really plan this out. To remove a WS/LP is a big pain because you have to remove all of the Leads from the Partition as well as all of the Assets. It takes a lot of time. If your instance is old, it may be worth just deprecating that WS/LP by changing its name.
A lot of people ask about WS/LPs too early in their understanding of Marketo or their firm’s journey into marketing automation. The feature solves a particular, large scale problem and is not for everyone. Here are some examples of when not to use it:
- Less than 1MM records.
- Small marketing team or few international marketers. Foldering should be enough.
- The data concerns can be solved with Folders or New Fields to clearly demarcate records. For example, people often ask about multi-brand instances. Many situations can be resolved with Product Interest field or Brand Owner field along with some rules of engagement for communications.
- Global Rollout slides
- Thinking through Workspaces
- New Lead, Different Partition
- Smart Lists and Workspaces
- Official Docs
And a special thanks to Perkuto for access to their Sandbox.