“Why is my Marketo instance so slow?”

It’s not an uncommon question. Any marketing operations pro has heard it countless times, and the truth is that while every instance is different, there are some top offenders that consistently slow them down. From a slow sync, to agonizingly slow load times while running reports and smartlists, a sluggish Marketo experience is a frustrating one.

So, how can you get to the root of the problem and improve the efficiency of your Marketo instance?

We asked some of Perkuto’s experts for their own experiences when Marketo seems to be running painfully slow. After all, they spend a good chunk of their waking hours in the platform itself and have seen a thing or two. This is what they had to say.

Culprit #1: Mass Record Imports into Marketo

Lindsay “Importing a list that contains a large volume of new records into Marketo can cause your system to slow down for a number of reasons,” Lindsay Khan, Solutions Architect at Perkuto, recounted.

“Once, I was tasked with troubleshooting why an email send was delayed. When looking at the campaign queue, we traced back to find that there were 30,000+ records that still needed to flow through some smart campaigns that were using the ‘Person is Created’ trigger,” she said.

“From there, we looked at the date the records were added to the system, and the original source type field for the records. The culprit was a list import of tens of thousands of records that were new to the database. The Marketo instance had a number of smart campaigns using the ‘Person is Created’ trigger, and the instance itself already had a fairly large database,” she said.

So, what to do if you find your instance in a similar situation? Lindsay’s take-away from this particular troubleshoot has helped her reframe list importing moving forward.

“One of the things I advise clients to do is to break large lists up into smaller ones when importing lists into Marketo. This gives you more control over the number of new records being created, and can help limit the pressure placed on the system to process all of the new records.”

Culprit #2: Using Too Many Triggered Campaigns and Sync Steps

Hilary German, Senior Consultant at Perkuto, had several words of caution when it comes to triggered campaigns.

Hilary “Be careful with the overuse of triggers, and convert them to batches where possible,” she said. “For example, ask yourself: does a person need to be added to your engagement program immediately, or could they be added by running a batch the day before the send?”

It’s important to keep in mind that while triggers for smart campaigns are an incredible tool, with a growing database also comes new complications. And, if the trigger campaign queue becomes overloaded, that’s where you can see an impact on the speed of your instance. The bottom line: the best practice when it comes to triggers for smart campaigns is to consider if the use of a trigger is warranted for an immediate action. If it doesn’t, you’re better off scheduling a batch – to avoid clogging the trigger queue while getting the same results.

Hilary added, “It’s also best practice to create a single global sync campaign to add new records to your CRM and avoid the sync person flow step elsewhere. Having multiple sync to CRM flow steps can be taxing on the system, and may introduce duplicate data.”

Her wariness against the duplicate data that can come from sync person flow step is a valid one. A 2019 study conducted by Forrester and Marketing Evolution, found that 21% of marketing budgets are foundered away due to “bad data.”

Culprit #3: Nested Smart List Overload

Yet another common culprit can come from too many nested smart lists.

“Each nested smart list adds additional processing time, so consider creating a segmentation or a static list where possible,” Hilary points out. “Reduce the number of nested smart lists by being selective with the ‘Member of Smart List’ filter.”

Carey Picklesimer, Senior Consultant at Perkuto, had some words of wisdom to add surrounding smart lists.

“Restrict the smart lists with constraints where possible, such as ‘Lead is Created’ by web form fill out,” she said.

Though smart lists certainly have their place, instead try using static lists, or even put segmentation to use. These alternate routes won’t slow your instance in the same way that an overload on smart lists can.

Culprit #4: Too Many Smart Campaigns

Carey “You really need to be strategic about the smart campaigns that are triggered off ‘Lead is Created,’” Carey emphasized.

“This is important because if you have too many campaigns that fire when a lead is created, you can slow the system down as the system processes several campaigns at the same time. This problem can be compounded if you upload a large list. Furthermore, you run into the possibility of ‘race conditions’, which is what happens when you can’t control which campaign takes action first.”

So, if you find your instance in this sticky situation, what’s the fix?

“You’ll want to take a look at the Campaign Inspector to understand how many smart campaigns are triggered off ‘Lead is Created.’ You can then filter the list of campaigns by using the search function at the bottom of the window,” she said. “A few things can help: Do your best to combine campaigns wherever possible; consider using recurring batch campaigns as Hilary said above; and narrow down the trigger by using constraints such as Lead is Created by Form Fill.”

What a slow Marketo instance really boils down to is this: the need for a fresh perspective. What may have not seemed like significant issues when first starting out, can build over time. Oftentimes, as a program grows and gains momentum, a little Marketo “spring cleaning” can go a long way. As lists compound and queues get backed up, you’ll need to develop more specific Marketo strategies in order to keep things organized, efficient, and running like a well-oiled machine.

Want to learn more about how you can proactively plan for a more efficient Marketo instance? Register for our free webinar on March 11 at 1:00 pm ET, Error-Proofing Your Marketo Instance, to hear some of our MOPS experts discuss the best ways to safeguard your instance from efficiency-robbing errors. If you’d like more immediate guidance in regards to your instance, feel free to get in touch with us now.