Marketo provides an awesome starter space for making marketing magic happen. One of my biggest pet peeves with technology is the assumption that the tech needs to be smarter than the end user... Marketo creates an easy space for you to do brilliant things without trying to out-think you. Because the tool will allow you to update just about anything on the Contact/Lead, you can do quite a bit of work on your data (that would be heavy lifting in your CRM) with one small smart campaign or a simple program. If you can dream it up and figure out the logic behind it, then you can create just about anything. Campaigns create a provide a simple IF, THEN, WHEN format for your programs, that's easy to build and quick to deploy. Once you figure out how the system thinks, there isn't much you can't do with it.
While the overall system is great, there are a few areas that need improvement:
Gotcha's: There are some truly bizarre, tricky little gotchas' in the system. Example: Your smart campaign flow steps with choices better have a last step that is "Do Nothing" or you're going to overwrite data or send an email again, which isn't what you intended. Once you learn to avoid these weird little snags you're fine but they can trip you up initially.
Analytics: When it comes to looking at a single lead and understanding their behavior, Marketo does a great job; Same with a single campaign/program. They provide interesting insights into current performance of campaigns and emails, but it's hard to get an idea of Month over Month / Year over Year performance. You really have to dig into the data and pull it out to get a good feel for what's going on long term.
Make sure you send someone through certification and take advantage of all the live and online trainings that you can. You will learn things about the system that poking around and figuring it out simply won't provide.
We had worked with email platforms and another marketing automation tool prior to on-boarding with Marketo, and we found that we needed a robust tool that allowed us to use email in a smarter way. We demo'ed numerous platforms and Marketo was the best fit for our business. The tool has allowed us to leverage email in a new and better way, provide valuable data to marketing and sales, and create a lead gen program that drives inbound leads through our funnel.