email facebook google plus linkedin pinterest instagram RSS twitter quora pointer eye stats search cross chevron-down cash

Upgrade Marketo With Three Content Marketing Super Hacks

shutterstock_177674585If you’re a Marketo user, you probably love how it enables email marketing, lead scoring, account based marketing, lead nurturing, segmented advertising, and analytics. Marketo provides great visibility into leads, campaigns, and their connection with sales pipeline. But it’s not infallible. This article uncovers some of the Marketo content marketing loopholes and gaps Marketo presents —and shows you how to solve them.

It details ways to hack together cool experiences that prevent lead loss, and offers new ways to capture leads from content. We’ve implemented these hacks at Curata, and after seeing the impact they had for us we were inspired to share them.

Don’t Break Something!

This post provides actionable tips to increase lead generation through content marketing by potentially thousands of leads per year. They are ideas you can implement today, detailed down to the settings to change in Marketo and the source code to use on your web properties.

But they are hacks, and they are technical, so use this guide with caution. Here are some pointers on how to get the most out of it:

  • Don’t do it alone. Many of the hacks in this guide require at least three different people to implement them properly: a content marketer to guide the process, marketing operations to tweak Marketo settings, and a web developer to modify code on your website or blog. Unless you are proficient in all three disciplines, don’t do this alone.
  • Test, test, test. Many of these hacks have been implemented and tested in our own Marketo instance and website. They’ve been generalized so they should work for any other company as well, but every company is different, and differing settings or website code could interfere with these hacks. Worse yet, these hacks could interfere with your Marketo instance or website. So whatever you do, test not only that the hack works, but that existing functionality continues to work as well.
  • Copy that floppy. Always backup your website and blog code, so you can revert your code should these hacks not work as desired.

1) Prevent Google (and Other Search Engines) From Stealing Your Marketo Leads

Most organizations using Marketo landing pages for gated content lose hundreds, if not thousands of leads per year from visitors circumventing forms and directly downloading assets.  

All too often a visitor searching Google for an asset can directly access the asset (such as a PDF eBook) without providing their contact information.

Here’s a simple real-world example from a company called LionBridge. Let’s say I’ve heard great things about Marketo’s new eBook, “Definitive Guide to Global Email Campaign Optimization.” So I type the following query into Google:


The first return in the search results is as follows:


The first link goes to a landing page for the eBook which has a form with required fields for my first name, last name, email, company, industry, and country.  

But why would I fill out those fields when I can click on the second search engine result—direct to the PDF. And just like that, LionBridge unwittingly lost a lead capture opportunity.

Marketo has been aware of this loophole for years but has taken no steps to fix it. We’ll walk through how to end this circumvention today.

How to get your leads back

Visitors can bypass forms when search engines directly index your assets because someone linked to them in a blog post or shared them on social media.

Here’s the fix.

Move your assets off Marketo’s servers

Because Marketo lacks the functionality to tell search engines not to index your content when they host it, you need to move all your gated assets such as PDFs and recorded webinars to your corporate website server. If your landing pages are hosted by Marketo, you do not need to move them, just the assets.  

You can tell if your assets are on Marketo’s servers if the URL to your assets is on a special subdomain separate from your corporate site, such as or  

Move your assets to a folder on your corporate domain such as

Update all references to the new asset location

Once you’ve moved your assets, don’t forget to update all links to these assets from your emails in Marketo and corresponding thank you pages.

Tell search engines not to index your gated assets

Next you need to tell search engines not to index your content. Do this by adding a directive in your robots.txt file on your corporate domain disallowing crawling of the assets folder.

For example, if your assets are stored in, then add the following line to  

User-agent: *

Disallow: /assets/

2) Marketo Content Marketing: Free the Content… but Track the Lead

The Rise & Challenges of Ungated Content

Marketo is great at tracking consumption of content gated behind a lead capture form. But in recent years pressure has built to share content more freely.  

Publishing ungated content undoubtedly increases marketing content’s exposure and rates of consumption—but at the cost of being able to track and measure which leads consumed that content. As a result, sales teams using Marketo Sales Insight within a CRM are unable to understand which ungated content has been consumed, making it nearly impossible to have an informed conversation with a prospect.

How to Track Ungated Asset Consumption

Below is an easy hack to get Marketo to record the consumption of ungated assets in PDF format such as eBooks, case studies, and whitepapers.

Simply insert this code on every page of your corporate website. It sends Marketo a signal every time a visitor clicks on a link ending with “.pdf,” causing Marketo to record it as a web page visit.  

Note that this code relies on the jQuery library. Most websites have jQuery on them already, but check with your IT department to ensure this is the case before installing.

Consumption of Ungated Assets

Once you’ve installed the code you can then flag the web page visit event for each ungated asset URL as an “Interesting Moment” in Marketo. Instructions on how to do so can be found here.

Specifically, you need to create a new campaign called “Opened PDF.”

Then add a Smart List with a filter as follows:

Marketo smart list filter

Next in the Flow, create an Interesting Moment as follows:

Marketo interesting moment

This automatically creates an Interesting Moment for sales whenever a lead clicks on a PDF link on your website.

Side Note:

Marketo does record click events, but they can’t be used for Interesting Moments because the trigger token is not supported for this activity  type.

Scoring Leads based on Ungated Content Consumption

Similarly, you can create another Smart Campaign with the same Smart List, but a Flow that increments the lead score whenever a lead opens a PDF.

3) To Adblock or Not to Adblock, That is the Question

The Rise of Adblockers & Privacy Extensions

An increasing amount of consumers use adblocking or privacy extensions in their web browsers. There are two main reasons to use an adblocker:

  • To speed up page load times. The analytics and tracking scripts in most web pages today can severely slow down web page load times. Adblockers drastically decrease web page load time by loading only the content you want.
  • For privacy. Most analytics trackers—including Google Analytics—and most online advertising networks rely heavily on cookies to track what you do across web pages, browsing sessions, and even different websites. Many visitors use adblockers to prevent these trackers from using cookies to track them.

Why this matters to you

It’s estimated that more than one in four Internet users block ads. This number is expected to grow in the next year to nearly one in three users, according to eMarketer. This means one fourth of visitors are likely blocking out Marketo code on many of your pages, creating challenges for both marketer and visitor.

Inability to track what they are doing. If a visitor blocks Marketo code on your site, you cannot track what they are clicking on or doing. Marketo relies on this data to operate intelligently. Without it your sales team is oblivious to which parts of your site visitors are most engaged with, your lead scoring algorithms cannot qualify them based on their web activity, and most importantly you, as a content marketer, are blind to the content they’ve consumed.

A poor user experience. Blocking Marketo code from your site often leads to a poor user experience. Pages and formatting can appear mangled, and even worse, parts of your site may appear to be missing.  


For example, here’s an eBook landing page from Curata’s site as it appears with an adblocker enabled. Every month we used to receive emails from a few confused visitors (presumably using adblockers) complaining they couldn’t download the eBook because they couldn’t find the form to fill out. And those are just the folks who cared enough to go to our contact page, find our email address, and let us know of their experience. Just imagine how many leads we may have lost to visitors who didn’t see a form there, and then just left our site altogether!

Improve User Experience: Block the Adblockers

One way to discourage visitors from using adblockers is to hide all your site content until they disable them. Using the method below, visitors using adblockers see the following black screen on every page of your site. The only way to disable this screen and see your site is by disabling the adblocker and reloading the page.


All you need to do to implement this is insert this code on every page on your site with a Marketo Munchkin tracker on it.

The advantage to this approach is that it forces every visitor to disable their adblocker, thereby ensuring a consistent user experience, and more importantly, ensuring you can track their website activity on any page on your site.  

The downside to this approach is that it could increase your site bounce rate—particularly for brand new visitors, who many not want to disable their adblocker for just your site.

Advanced Hack: Forcing Adblock Visitors to Disable Adblock on Landing Pages Only

An alternative is to warn users about using an adblocker only when it hinders their user experience.  

As mentioned, adblockers can cause Marketo forms to not display on a landing page. This can be confusing for a visitor who doesn’t realize their adblocker is doing this, or know where to find the form they expect to see on a page.

The method below automatically detects if a user is using an adblocker. It then inserts warning text in place of the hidden form, warning the visitor they need to disable their adblocker to see the form.

Here is the code to implement this. You may want to modify the warning text for your audience.

The advantage of this approach is that it gives a visitor the option as to whether they disable their adblocker or not, rather than forcing them to do so to see any content on your site, resulting in a lower bounce rate. The disadvantage is that some visitors won’t disable their adblocker, thereby causing serious gaps in their website activity, artificially lower lead scores, and lead intelligence holes.

But Wait, There’s More

As you can see, we spend a fair bit of time thinking about, and using Marketo at Curata, so we’re confident you’ll find these methods for improving Marketo’s functionality useful. However, these hacks are only half of the ones we’ve developed to boost Marketo’s usefulness for content marketers—there’s more in our eBook: Marketo “Secret Menu” – 6 Marketo Hacks for Content Marketing. If you’d like to find out about the rest of our super functional tips, download it today!


Pawan Deshpande

Pawan Deshpande is the founder and CEO of Curata, a Boston-based company offering content marketing software used by thousands of marketers around the world. He spearheaded the first-ever panel at SxSW on Content Marketing in 2011, and was a 2014 Finalist for MarketingProfs B2B Marketer of the Year. Pawan was an engineer at Microsoft and Google where he was awarded patents in social networking and machine learning. He previously attended MIT where his graduate thesis won top departmental and international awards.

Pawan is also a blogger for The Huffington Post, the Content Marketing Institute,, Forbes, Marketing Profs, and other technology and marketing publications.

Curata Content Analytics

Related Articles

Subscribe for Content Marketing News!

Free Download: How to Curate Content Like a Boss Get My Copy! >

Get My Copy!