What are global assets in Marketo and when should you use them?

Two screens being looked at by a team. One screen has a screenshot of Marketo snippets, the other shows Marketo's design studio with global assets.
Paddy Cumiskey
Marketing Automation Consultant


In today’s fast-paced world of marketing automation, achieving more with less is the key to success. Understanding and using global vs local assets in Marketo’s is a great place to start! 

This blog, based on a webinar I delivered recently, aims to guide you through the intricacies of global and local assets, providing insights on optimizing your campaign builds and overall marketing strategy.

What are global and local assets in Marketo?

What is a local asset?

Local assets reside within specific programs in the Marketing Activities tab of Marketo Engage. Local assets can be anything from emails and landing pages to lists, forms, and more. The key thing to remember is that they are local to the program they sit underneath. 

What is a global asset?

Global assets reside within the Design Studio tab of Marketo Engage, and global lists live in the Database tab. These can be the same sorts of assets again: emails, landing pages, smart lists, forms, etc. The key difference here is that a global asset can be referenced by multiple programs in Marketing Activities. This offers significant advantages, including time saved, consistency and scalability. 

Build a global asset once in Design Studio or Database and reference it as many times as you like later on. 

5 ways to use global assets to ease your Marketo builds

1. Global smart lists for targeted audiences

There are two schools of thought here: some people build all their lists in the database, whereas some people build them all in marketing activities.

We recommend the first option!

Time and time again we see instances full of convoluted local smart lists that are all doing the same thing.

These often end up causing inconsistencies, as well as requiring extra work to maintain across your campaigns.

Global smart lists can be particularly useful for things such as preferences, exclusions, and data hygiene monitoring, allowing you to have ready-to-go segmentation. They also prevent you having to seek approval from your campaign requester for the dozens of lists housed in different programs!

2. Global forms for consistency and scalability

Forms are one of the tricker assets to deal with. You might have multiple types of forms, events, webinars, downloads, enquiry and multiple versions of each type. Suddenly, you’ve got a LOT of forms! That can very quickly get messy, time consuming, and difficult to track.

Globalising those into a single event form, a single download form, etc is really important.

The important thing to think about with global forms is: how do we really understand what the intent is when someone fills out that form?

Taking a global enquiry form as an example: someone asking to speak to a sales rep is very different to someone enquiring about a job. So you need to build your forms in a way that takes this into account. Do this using a specific field, or the landing page that the form sits on.

That way, you get the benefits of not having to build again and again, but you’re still getting all of the information you need by capturing it in other ways.

3. Better, faster builds with email templates

For me, this is all about flexibility.

The last thing you want when building an email is to be told that you can’t do it the way you want to because

  • The variables don’t allow it
  • We don’t have the right module

You need to build those modules into your template in the first place to allow you to build anything you might want within your brand guidelines.

There are also some common challenges all marketers face when building email templates…

  1. Outlook… need we say more?
  2. Endless bugs
  3. Lack of coding skills 

If your email template is limiting you, then it’s not working! We specialise in building flexible, modular email templates for Marketo – ask us for help.

4. Landing page templates for fuss-free campaigns

For me, landing pages are synonymous with forms.

You can either embed a form into your website, or you can just drop a form onto a Marketo landing page which is often the go-to. 

This allows you to capture any information you want without relying on the IT team! 

Landing page templates work in much the same way as email templates – you can build them to cover any design need you can think of, and you just need to hide or show the elements you want.

5. Make one-to-many changes with snippets

In my opinion, snippets are massively underused in Marketo!

You can set a global snippet, and reference it in multiple assets. A great example is an email footer – in the image below you can see that we are able to just swap in and out the right snippet for a given email footer.

This means that you only have to update the snippet, and it’s reflected across all emails. Imagine you want to update the copyright year on your email – would you rather do it once in a snippet, or go and find every email asset in your instance. I know which one I’d choose!

So how do you get started with globalisation in Marketo?

Now you know more about global vs. local assets… where do you go next?

For Marketo newbies:

Start right now! It’s easy to get stuck in the habit of building local assets while you’re trying to show ROI on your new investment quickly, but putting good practices in place early on with global assets will save you huge amounts of time and effort in the long run.

For existing Marketo users:

If you have a Marketo instance that’s full of local assets already, don’t fret – you can still globalise.

Identify the pain points you experience creating local assets and then prioritise creating global assets that will have the biggest positive impact on your team’s workflows. 

A good example might be a gated content form or a webinar registration form. There’s then just a little bit of intricacy to be worked through in how you swap from using the old local form to the new global form, but that’s something our experts can help you out with if you’re not sure.