Category - Marketo

Jake Schlan shares his take on the future of Marketing

Being named to the Fearless 50 is quite an honour, so when Marketo announced their 2019 Fearless 50 class, we were proud to see that 5 of the 50 are Knak clients.

We spoke with Jake Schlan, 2019 Fearless 50 member and Senior Manager of Marketing Technology & Operations at Palo Alto Networks, to find out what he loves about his field and where he thinks the world of Marketing is heading.

Knak: Congratulations on being part of the Fearless 50! It’s a well deserved honour. How did you get your start as a Marketer?

Jake Schlan: I actually studied Psychology in school, and while it’s not a traditional business path, I think it had an impact on my eventual transition into marketing.
I started as a BDR, dialing for dollars at a job that was almost 100% commission. A year later, I transitioned to a similar role at another company, and after nearly two years there, I realized that sales — or at least inside sales — was not for me.
I was well-liked within the company though, so when a Marketing Coordinator role opened up, I asked to be considered. I got the job, and I’ve been in the field ever since.

Knak: What do you love about Marketing?
JS: I don’t work in the traditional marketing mold. From the start I’ve been almost 100% focused on operations – and I started before Marketing Ops was really a thing – so for me, marketing is about data flows, problem solving, and building cool tools.
I love that my job allows me to empower those around me by giving them new ways of doing traditional marketing. I can inspire them to take on new marketing channels and rethink how to tell our story to prospects.

Knak: Let’s talk about innovation. Which recent marketing innovations are you most excited about?
JS: I’m excited about the push towards a single source of truth – the Customer Data Platform (CDP). Once upon a time, this may have been your CRM or MAP, but with the boom in the MarTech landscape, we have long outgrown the ability of these platforms to track every point of interaction with our prospects and customers.
A return to a single source of truth – one that has every data point, every touch – will allow us to analyze our data in new ways, find new approaches, and better justify our marketing spend.

Knak: And along the same lines, which marketing trends do you think will be big in 2020?
JS: AI is the big new thing, although I’m not completely sold on it’s current execution. The current implementation of AI is similar to the current world of medicine: penicillin might work for most people, but for others, it’s deadly.
There is no single, best-fit model for all companies, but that’s what we’re being sold in the marketplace. I hope, just as we’re seeing a push towards personalized medicine, that’s where we’re headed in the realm of AI, with models personalized to each company using their own data, not just look-alike data from similar companies.

Knak: Any marketing trends you think are overrated?
JS: I think Account Based Marketing (ABM) is overrated. It’s a buzzword that’s used for so many tools. To me, at its heart, ABM is account planning, which is something that Sales has been doing since Sales became a thing. It may be new to the marketing world, but any team that has strong alignment with their sales team is already doing ABM.

Knak: Fast forward to January 2021. How do you think your job will look different a year from now?
JS: The new buzzword in the industry is Revenue Ops, a combination of Sales Ops, Marketing Ops, and traditional Ops roles. This presents an exciting opportunity to collaborate with colleagues who have a quasi-similar background but use a different framework for viewing data. If it’s done successfully, I believe it will give companies a richer picture of the entire customer journey as opposed to hand-offs from one scene to the next.

Knak: Do you have any tips for your fellow marketers? Any parting words?
JS: I was fortunate enough to hear President Obama speak at Dreamforce last month, and I’m going to echo his words: “Be kind and be helpful. Everything else will fall into place.”
In my own marketing journey, I’ve tried to keep in mind that on any given project, someone in the room knows more than I do about some aspect of it. It would be foolish to disregard their experiences.

Congratulations to Jake, and the other Knak clients who made the list. We’re proud of their commitment to innovation, and we love what they’re doing to push the field of marketing forward.

Congratulations to the Fearless 50!

Marketo Fearless 50 - Knak Customers

Marketo recently announced their 2019 Fearless 50 class, so we’re sending HUGE congratulations to all the recipients and especially the five Knak clients who made the list.

The Fearless 50 is a yearlong program for marketers who are committed to marketing fearlessly and driving digital transformation at their organizations (in fact, they’re SO good at what they do that Marketo calls them Rockstar Marketers).

We’re proud of our clients’ commitment to their craft, and we’re thrilled to partner with them as they keep on pushing the envelope.

Congratulations to our very own Fearless 50:

Enrico De Leon – Associate Director, Marketing Operations – AMRI Global
Matthew Gomez – Senior Manager, Marketing Ops – Laureate Education
Rachit Puri – Digital Marketing – Thoughtworks
Jake Schlan – Senior Manager, Marketing Technology & Operations – Palo Alto Networks
Katy Snyder – Director, Demand Gen – BitTitan

Knak is the first email creation platform built for teams. We help you build beautiful, responsive, world-class emails, no coding required. Get to know us at

How we improved our customer onboarding process with automation & self-service

Knak - How we improved our customer onboarding process with automation & self-service

When new customers sign up for a Knak subscription, it’s really important for us to get people their account as quickly as possible. As we grow and the volume of new accounts increases, we needed to develop a more efficient process by injecting automation and workflow wherever possible.

Like many SaaS companies, we initially needed developers to provision all new accounts as part of the onboarding process. This was okay at the beginning when the volume was manageable, but now that we are provisioning multiple accounts per day, we needed to remove our developers from the mix so they could focus on higher value tasks.

Additionally, our Sales Operations team had to manually reach out to customers to collect billing and other required information, and it was way more cumbersome than it needed to be.

Lastly, given that we are an email company, the initial activation emails we sent to our customers could have been much nicer, but it was a classic case of the shoemaker’s children having bad shoes: our Sales Ops lead was sending really long, information heavy, text-only emails.

So, we wrote down all the non-negotiable steps in the process, and we drew out a map of the best-case scenario.

Given that we use Marketo + Salesforce, we wanted to leverage the power of these two systems to make us more efficient. We also use DocuSign, so we were able to automate emails to go out once a DocuSign was completed.

This means our customers receive instructions on how to set up their accounts quickly, and the information we need from them is captured, no matter when they end up signing. The data is also captured by forms in Marketo, which means it will never get lost in someone’s inbox.

Another big piece of this was making sure a non-technical person would be able to provision an account in Knak. We spent time developing the administrative parts of our product so that people who don’t know how to code could set up a new account with just a few clicks. Once the account is set up, our application sends out a beautiful activation email (built with Knak) to let them know what steps to take once they log in for the first time.

We also want to give customers a nice warm welcome, so we make a point to send a welcome package with a bunch of amazing Knak swag to all new customers. This was another labor-intensive area: someone had to keep track of it all (usually just in emails somewhere). Now, we’re leveraging SFDC + Marketo to capture this data as well.

In my years as a Marketo consultant, I’ve realized that your Marketing Automation processes are only as good as your documentation. So, it was also really important for us to document the entire journey for training purposes. We use Lucid Charts to map it all out from start to finish.

Finally, we’re meeting as a team to run through the new and improved onboarding so we can see what our customers will experience. This is perhaps the most important part of the whole exercise: to make sure the customer experience has been improved.

We know this is just the beginning of bringing someone into the Knak application. But we also know that first impressions matter (and you only get one shot at them), so we’ve chosen to invest in this part of the process. And we’re not stopping there: we also recently hired a dedicated customer success manager to help our clients get the most out of Knak once they’ve logged in for the first time.

It’s just another way the Knak team is working to make life smoother for our customers.

What Traveling to Tokyo Taught Me About Marketing Nation

Knak Enterprise Email Creation Platform- Tokyo MUG

As a startup in a massive industry, the Knak team understands that we need to operate with a high degree of fearlessness if we want to stand out among the many MarTech vendors in an ever-growing ecosystem.

So when an opportunity to present at the Marketo User Group Day in Tokyo popped up in our Slack channel, I didn’t hesitate to raise my hand. Sure, I wasn’t the most experienced public speaker, and I’d never travelled such a long way on my own. But the Marketo community puts a high value on fearlessness, so I set my self-doubt aside and hit the ground running.

As one of the leaders of the Ottawa Marketo User Group, I couldn’t wait to see how a city as big as Tokyo organizes their MUGs. I wanted to soak up as much of the experience as possible so I could share it back in Ottawa. I was also excited to introduce Knak to a broader group of Marketo users.

Here are a few things I learned from the experience.

Tokyo MUGs are no joke

A typical Ottawa MUG usually involves a few hours and a guest speaker. The Tokyo MUG Day lasted for six hours, featured execs from Clearbanc and Marketo as well as a privacy lawyer, and hosted more than 300 marketers.

In addition to the size of the event, I was thoroughly impressed by the many guest speakers present and the breadth of topics covered.

Breakout sessions centered around many different aspects of the Marketo community – from Femketo (women who use Marketo) to vendor-specific groups like Salesforce, Adobe Experience Manager, and more.

Marketing Nation is bigger than I thought

The Marketo Community in Japan, much like the one I’ve become familiar with in North America, is strong. Many of the 300 people in attendance knew each other well, likely due to the fact that they don’t wait for a MUG Day to come around to get together. In addition to the bi-annual MUG Days, Marketo users in Tokyo can take advantage of monthly breakout sessions geared towards specific marketing groups.

The Tokyo MUG Day attendees were also more than welcoming to me. Despite the language barrier they embraced me fully, offering suggestions for restaurants, parks, and attractions to visit. I was thrilled to receive such a warm welcome!

Think global, act local

For my presentation, I spent some time introducing Knak and discussing the future of email marketing (through an incredible translator, of course!). The booming tech industry in Japan means that Japanese companies can run their entire Marketing department without going outside the country for support, but that doesn’t mean they’re not open to collaborating with their North American counterparts. Countless MUG Day attendees came up to me after the presentation to ask questions about Knak and find out how we could help them build beautiful emails faster. It was amazing to see their excitement about engaging with a Canadian company.

Fearlessness: the Marketo way of life

While I was experiencing my own doubts about MUG Day (the size of the crowd, the language barrier), I realized that the attendees were having some of the same hesitations. The event organizers encouraged them to speak to me in English in order to get some practice, but shyness from both sides stifled communication.

Fortunately, it wasn’t long before we started nerding out over our mutual love of marketing. I got to hear stories from several different marketers about how they reached their current roles, how they manage Marketo at their organizations, and how they’re tackling their biggest marketing challenges. In each story, “fearlessness” played a role, and I heard the message over and over again: in marketing and in life, you’ve got to just ignore the fear and get things done.

Different side of the world, same email problems

Despite the language barrier, everybody was able to air their grievances over what we and Knak are most passionate about– the email creation process. Hearing marketers on the other side of the world talk about the same pain points, from creating the emails themselves to getting them approved by the right people, was equal parts comforting (at least I’m not the only one) and exciting (Knak can help!). It was so motivating to know that the work that Knak helps marketers far beyond our front door.

All-in-all, I’m so glad I took advantage of this experience. It’s always easy to come up with reasons to maintain the status quo, but this trip halfway around the world gave me the opportunity to live out the fearlessness that Marketo encourages. It was my first time in Japan, my first presentation with a translator, the first time I ate ramen in a private cubicle (!!!), and my first experience meeting my Japanese Marketo counterparts.

For many of the Tokyo MUG Day attendees, it was their first introduction to Knak. Hopefully it offered some insight into what Marketers are doing in other parts of the world; at the very least, it was an opportunity to work on their English, likely a step outside their comfort zone for many.

And isn’t being out of your comfort zone the first step to being fearless?

My Takeaways From Litmus Live: Email Trends You Need Now

Better emails, better results

Last month, I attended Litmus Live in San Francisco. Knak has been a Litmus customer for quite some time, and as Knak’s lead email developer, I was excited to spend a few days talking about one of my favorite subjects with a thousand fellow email geeks (yes, I’m nerdy and I know it…).

I walked away with some great new ideas, so here are the top takeaways from my two days in email Disneyland, as well as some trends that I can see revolutionizing the email game in 2019.

Key(ping) it Real: Key Takeaways that Boost Success


Ensure that teams and channels are aligned on the email process

Lauren Kremer, Senior Marketing Specialist, talked about email marketing being the hub of an omnichannel marketing process largely because of the reporting that comes from it. It’s easier to track results from email marketing than almost any other channel, so it makes sense to transition your thinking to incorporate this. Picture your email marketing as the center of the wheel, and align your other channels — social media, trade shows, etc — around that center.
Team alignment is key to making this happen, so if that’s a challenge at your organization, work towards unifying your strategy among teams and channels, making sure to let the channel experts be experts in order to maintain a clear voice.

Work to streamline the approval process

Working with Knak clients has shown me that the one of the biggest email marketing challenges large enterprises face is the approval process, a challenge that was discussed at length during Litmus Live. Getting approval is the longest (and often most frustrating) part of the email process, especially at the enterprise level. Watching good emails languish between departments is a marketer’s nightmare, and getting them out on time can be a huge hurdle to overcome.

We actively solicit our client’s feedback to refine the approval process within our Enterprise product, which aims to streamline the email process from creation to approval.

Quality Assurance is job #1

Nathan Stack, Director of QA at Rapp, provided some great insight into his QA process, and it encouraged me to consider how approvals can be broken down into stages.
Currently, Knak Enterprise admin users can set module rules that define quality that must be matched in order for the emails to go out. As we move forward, we’ll be looking to incorporate some additional checkpoints, such as testing for link functionality and accessibility compliance.

Say goodbye to Frankenstein

It’s time to stop piecing your workflow together. I’ve been using grunt.js to automate my email workflow for a while, but Jeffrey Hoffman’s talk on Modular Design was really helpful. He broke down the use of Helpers, Variables, Partials, and Conditionals with terrific clarity. The overarching message of his talk was that while your workflow may be comprised of many different elements, they should work together to contribute to one fluid process.

Marketo 2.0 editor encourages building with this method and provides the interface needed for editing. Knak Builder does this also, but with an additional layer of flexibility. We have helpers in content blocks, partials in the form of modules, and variables at the brand-to-theme level that give our users a more efficient workflow without requiring them to write any code.

The future, and how we fit in


Flagship email can be huge to a product’s success

A weekly or monthly product email is a great way to drive engagement and keep the product at the forefront of a customer’s mind. One key example of this is the weekly report Grammarly sends to its users. It breaks down their productivity and progress (and, let’s be real: it makes sure to underscore how smart the user is), and it’s been truly embraced by Grammarly’s customers.

Moving from editorial to automated allows for improvement over time

Seth Weisfeld, Product Manager, Growth Traffic at Pinterest, talked about how the company has transitioned from human-curated to individualized, automated emails. Pinterest personalizes every detail of their emails according to the recipient’s needs, including the subject line, copywriting, and even the send frequency.

Nick Goldsberry, Senior Solutions Architect at Levementum, underscored this in his talk, enthusiastically outlining the benefits of email scripting and complex dynamic emails. It’s not hard to see why he’s excited: the changes have resulted in click-through rate increases of 102% at Levementum, quarter after quarter.


This is another area Seth Weisfeld covered extensively. He introduced some terrific examples of AMPscripting for interactive email, which allows users to render content on a subscriber-by-subscriber basis. It delivers an incredibly advanced level of email and landing page personalization, and it’s changing the game at Pinterest.

It’s new territory, but it’s one we’re excited to explore down the line at knak.

Continuing the Magic

I realize not everyone gets super excited to spend two days at an email conference (though if you do, you should join us next year!) For me though, Litmus Live was a great opportunity to connect with other email developers and find out what the future of email looks like.

As we head into 2019, I’m looking forward to implementing some of these new ideas and working with our customers to take their emails to the next level.

[Infographic] Who’s Who at the 2018 Marketo Marketing Nation Summit

The most exciting week of the year for Marketers is just around the corner!

With over 80 partners exhibiting at the 2018 Marketo Summit, it can be a little overwhelming to know who can help you with your most urgent business goals and objectives.

We have made it simpler for you by categorizing all of the different vendors into clear and concise categories. This will help you navigate the expo hall like a pro and use your time most efficiently.

Check out the infographic to see all the Marketo LaunchPoint partners who are sponsoring the 2018 Marketo Summit!

Who's Who at Summit 2018
P.S. We’re helping throw what’s bound to be the hottest party at Summit this year! Don’t miss out on the party that everybody will be talking about. Register now.

Behind the Scenes – How we Built our Marketo Summit Party Landing Page

Ever wanted to see how Knak builds our landing pages? We are throwing a party at the upcoming Marketo Summit in Las Vegas, and we’re giving you a behind the scenes look at how we built out our event registration page in Marketo. It took us less than 10 minutes, from start to finish.

That being said, there was a lot of preparation that went into building the logo for the party, gathering the right images and preparing the copy, but ultimately this is the process to grab the template from Knak and populate it with content in Marketo.

Make this template your own here:
View the live landing page here:—Q2—Event—Marketo-Summit—Ice-Bar_Registration.html?source=knak

Why I Started Knak, by Founder Pierce Ujjainwalla

The purpose of Knak is to make this process simple. To allow Marketers to quickly and easily setup an email or landing page template, pick their layout, customize it to their brand, and get back to marketing. We never want them to have to look at HTML code again.

…In the beginning…

When I first started my marketing career, my first job was at Cognos – a big BI company that was eventually acquired by IBM. I was fresh out of university and eager to learn and get things done! Cognos was an early adopter of marketing automation, and we had all the best tools, people and budget to make great marketing happen.

However, most of my time waiting for things from other people. Although I eventually became really good at Eloqua (yes Eloqua…), I didn’t know any HTML or graphic design. This meant a lot of “hurry up and wait”. HURRY we need to get this campaign out, but WAIT for the HTML from the web team and graphics from the agency.

This really frustrated me because I was organized, and I had my stuff done and ready, but I was completely helpless to get my emails out on time because I needed to wait for other people.

The same thing happened with landing pages. We weren’t even lucky enough to have a tool like Marketo’s WYSIWYG landing page editor, so I had to work with my web team to get things posted. Although they were great people, they had a 2 week turn-around time! Meaning any little copy change took way too long to get changed.


…Fast forward 3 years…

I made a big change from my days at big blue. I am at a start-up called TITUS and they had no marketing automation, but they were very open to implementing Marketo. I lead the Marketo implementation there, and we were off to the races.

I found out that Marketo really empowers Marketers to be WAY more self-sufficient and FAST. No more waiting on other people to get your campaigns out… except for one thing… the creation of those pesky templates!I still needed to go through the whole process of designing and getting a third party to develop my templates. This process ended up taking months and was a major headache…I couldn’t believe things weren’t more advanced in this area!


…OK, now we’re at the present day…

After years of being on the client side, I started a Marketo services consultancy, and I wanted to solve all the challenges that I used to have as a marketer for our clients. We help Marketo clients like Trend Micro, Amdocs, Klipfolio and more get the most out of their Marketo investment. It’s a lot of fun and we’re always excited to see our clients be successful and push the limits of Marketo and teach us new things along the way.

Over the years, we see that our clients have very similar challenges with Marketo. Whether it’s setting up a best-in-class lead lifecycle, or a lead scoring model that actually works, or lead source tracking or reporting, there are a lot of challenges with Marketo that are pretty universal. However, there are none as prominent or pervasive as responsive email and landing page templates.

Back when Marketo released their template library, I was SO excited. Finally, the solution I was looking for! (or so I thought…) You need to know HTML to customize the templates for your brand. And I could still not write a line of code to save my life! – just like most marketers I know.

Now, after making literally hundreds of custom responsive templates for our Revenue Pulse clients, I thought there had to be a better way. Even though we can build a fully responsive template in a matter of a days, it’s still too long of a process.

That’s where the idea for Knak was born. Marketo has done a great job of putting the power back in the Marketers hands; making things simple. But for something as critical as templates for emails and landing pages (the only thing your customers will actually SEE of your entire Marketing Automation deployment), marketers are still helpless. Marketers need to work with agencies, graphic designers, developers. It’s a broken process.

The purpose of Knak is to make this process simple. To allow Marketers to quickly and easily setup an email or landing page template, pick their layout, customize it to their brand, and get back to marketing. We never want them to have to look at HTML code again. Although Marketo marketers are quite technical, we’re not developers…I don’t think it is productive for us to be wasting time coding (or trying to code in my case).

It’s been almost a month since we launched Knak at the Marketo Summit. We have over 150 Marketo users making Knak templates. In less than a month, over 260 amount of templates have already been built using our tool. That is an enormous amount of time and money that has been saved, and we’re just getting started.

The feedback we’re receiving is making all the hard work we’ve put into this tool worth it. Marketers are telling us that we’re making them look like rockstars to their peers, and that they’ve been waiting for a tool like this to come out for a long time. To me, that is success. But, like I said, we’re just getting started. The best is yet to come…like our upcoming release of Marketo landing page templates, also made simple.

I’d encourage you to try out the ‘new way’ of making Marketo templates. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Marketo Summit 2015 – The Big Reveal

After months and months of hard work and lots of Redbull, we released Knak to the masses at the Marketo Summit.

We had a booth, and a speak op during the champion series on ‘Creating Beautiful Responsive Marketo Emails and Landing Pages… no coding required’.

It was a big success with tons of people coming by our booth that were very excited to hear that they no longer have to struggle with Marketo email and landing page templates.

Our presentation was to a jam-packed room and had about 20 minutes of Q&A at the end. Couldn’t ask for much more.

The best part though was just the reaction of all the Marketo marketers who were overjoyed that there was finally a solution for them that would make their lives easier, save them money and have higher conversion rates on their Marketo assets.