How to use Tags and Channels within Marketo

laptop on a table
Adam Kemlo
Lead Consultant - EMEA & APAC


What are Marketo tags and channels?

When building a program within Marketo, you have the option to break down the types of programmes by using Tags or Channels. Tags are ways to help you organise your programmes and will also assist in filtering data, which is handy for reporting. Channels are there to report on how your members moved through your program.

Let’s break it down a little further:


To explain the tags functionality a little more in-depth, tags are used to describe programs. For example, if you (or your client) have one workspace but several products, the tag functionality could be used to identify a ‘Product of Interest’ at the program level. I.e. Programme Type: Event > Product of Interest: Product A. This could then identify how many event programmes we have run for Product A vs Product B.

Another option could be to use the tags in a more social media sense and create ‘Program Owner’ tags. You can then tag James T Fletcher (our super smart, talented director and founder of JTF Marketing) or Terry Stapleton (that’s me – the digital marketing and social comms manager here! Long title, I know…) at the program level to identify who ‘owns’ the campaign. This can help us run reports on how many campaigns James produced vs how many I produced, and who had a higher success rate. #CompetitiveNature.

There is an unlimited number of tags you can use, so go crazy – but remember they should have a purpose.

Hopefully explaining it this way helps you understand how this differs from a channel. “Well, what’s a channel?” I hear you ask; Keep going. It’s just below this beautifully written piece of text…


As we know, within Marketo, there are standard program types.

These are:

Default, Engagement, Email, Event and Event with Webinar. To run alongside these program types which are specific to one marketing initiative, you can set up Channels to be the delivery mechanism assigned to each type of program (i.e. Roundtable or Conference for the Event program or Web – Download for an Email program). Channels are then built with progression statuses (almost like a scoring model) and one progression status that is set to equal program success (for example, influenced for a mailshot or attended for an event). Does that make sense?

If I lost you, here are some examples of Channels we’ve built. We’ll get to the set-up in a short while, but it’s just so you can see the Channel type, Program type, Status and the Progression Steps.

Email – Single Shot (Program Type would be Email)

Conference (Program type would be Event)

Nurture – Inside Sales (Program type would be Engagement)

Download (Program Type would be Engagement)

If in doubt, take a look at the existing channels within your Tags field, and see how the progressions are set up to get an idea of how to use them. This can vary with every instance. 

How do you set up Marketo tags and channels?

So you’ve read the “what’s, why’s and wherefore’s”, now we’re going to move on to how you can build them. Don’t worry, no drills or screwdrivers required.

Create Custom Tags

  • Go to Admin > Select Tags from the left-hand sidebar
  • Select +New from the top bar
  • Click New Tag Type and a pop-up box will appear
  • Fill out the required fields.
    • Create = Creates your tag type
    • Applies to = The program types this tag applies to. Perhaps James only works across Engagement (Nurtures) and Events, or maybe he works on all of them, so you would select those.
    • ‘Add Another’ is necessary if there are multiple users working across the workspace (or again if you use Product of Interest as an example, here you would add all of your product types i.e. Product B, C, D…)
    • Values = The customs value you wish to enter. In this case, it will be James T Fletcher as he will be an owner on the campaign builds (The Product of Interest example would mean you use ‘Product A’ here)
    • Tag Type = Name of Tag. In this instance, it will be Owner (but it could be Product of Interest if you look at our previous example)
  • If you already have your Tag Types set up (i.e. Product of Interest) and you wish to add another product to this, instead of creating a new Tag Type, you will create a new Tag Value and select the Tag Type you wish to assign this to

That’s it. It’s that simple. You are now ready to add these into pre-existing campaigns if you wish, but any future campaigns created within your workspace will now give you the option of selecting your Program Owner. Nifty, huh?

Create Channels

  • Go to Admin > Select Tags from the left-hand sidebar
  • Select +New from the top bar
  • Click New Channel and a pop-up box will appear
  • Fill out the required fields
    • Channel = Channel Name. In this instance, we’re building one for a Conference
    • Applies to = The program type this channel applies to. Here we have a conference, which of course applies to an Event
    • Program – Status = These are the progression steps the members will go through for you to be able to track the program success. These will differ per channel, but you can look at our examples above to see how we’ve set them up for our clients.
    • One of these steps should mark the member’s success – In this instance, Attended would mark the member of the program successful. For an email blast, if someone has Clicked (i.e. clicked the link to your blog post) that would mark your program as successful.
  • Click Create

Your channel is now created and this will now enable you to select this option when building your next program. 

Impact on reporting

We’ve talked a little about how tags and channels can impact your reporting and we’re now going to look at how setting up a report based on these filters is beneficial.

When creating a Program Performance report within Marketo, go to the ’Setup’ of your report and you can drag and drop Channels or Tags from the right-hand side control panel into your report and utilise these as filters.

Let’s say for example that you decided to select an overview of all of your Q2 Email Campaigns. (We’re assuming you utilise this type of method for naming your campaigns – If you’d like to read more about Campaign Naming Conventions, check out our blog here) You will then drag in the Channels filter and select the required Channel (i.e. Single Shot Email)

Tip*: When adding in the Channel filter, select ‘Show program status columns’ – This will allow you to see the program status steps you set up and report on the member conversions through the program (Delivered, Opened, Clicked etc.)

Next, you could look at adding in the Tags filter. Here, again, you can format the view to see all campaigns where Program Owner is James T Fletcher, or perhaps you have a tag set up for Product of Interest, or perhaps even Regions.

You can start to compare and report on a variety of outcomes. The good thing about using Marketo tags and channels for your reporting is it allows you to get as granular as you wish.