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Migrating Marketing Automation Platforms: A Step-By-Step Migration Guide

August 18, 2018 | Andrea Lechner-Becker | No Comments |

Don’t believe the “6 Steps” type articles for this topic. Marketing Automation Platform (MAP) migration is a lot of work – and investment – and it’s incredibly custom to your business. Aside from the cost of the software itself, your biggest investment will be the time it takes to make decisions and rebuild. We’ve helped hundreds of companies through this process and have earmarked the things to avoid and outlined a proven approach to assessing what works from your current system and moving it correctly over to your new platform of choice.

Business Goals Must Come First

Take a good long look at your goals. If you have (OKRs), you’re off starting off in a good place. If you also have aligned departmental OKRs, you’re sitting even better. And if you’ve already identified which functions will be scaled, automated or improved by the new platform to achieve your marketing goals, you’re pretty much done. If you don’t have all these, check out this article which will help you get there.

Warning: don’t skip this step! It’s a huge part of the overall project’s success. If you made your purchase decision based on features and functionality, it will be much harder to truly evaluate the value of the platform. Instead, tie the investment from the very first day, to your business objectives.

After you’ve outlined the functions, it’s time to decide which technology will best support your business goals. It should also help you get more out of your demos and sales calls with the technology reps you’ll be engaged with. It’s essential that they understand what you’re trying to achieve. From there let their value or sales engineers properly explain how you’d reach your goals within their platform.

Setting Internal Expectations

These roadblocks will look different depending on your business, but the ones we see the most are:

  • Sales and Marketing Alignment. With a new platform, your team has an important decision to make: will they keep their current processes or jump in and change them? If the current lead management process waits for a lead scoring threshold to be met, will you keep that process? Sales probably hopes you will. Marketing gets frustrated getting scoring right. In today’s current pandemic, B2B buyers are behaving in a generally unpredictable way. Is it time to reconsider your approach and find a better way? Should the platform be used for both marketing and sales?
  • Marketing Reporting. Commonly called attribution in B2B marketing, ultimately marketers are responsible to know how your best customers are finding you and how you influence their buying journey. This can be used as an opportunity to evaluate what you’re doing and be able to determine if you need to make changes. Common attribution strategies are first-touch, last-touch and multi-touch, either for sourcing or for influence. If you want more information on how different technology enables these approaches, check out our series on marketing attribution, starting with how it’s done in CRM. If you’ve done all this and not sure how you got to the process you have, chances are it’s time to make a change.
  • Data Governance. Who owns different objects and fields in your databases today? How much do those databases sync data bidirectionally? If you’re moving to a new system to reduce silos, it means you need to consider ownership and data permissions. This may seem too “in the weeds” to be in the strategic portion of this guide, but very few organizations have the current organizational structure to support data governance decisions. Think about this as an opportunity to restructure governance. The investment is well worth it.

Records and Fields

Now is the time to roll up your sleeves and get into the details.

Records

Records in any automation platform are often in disarray. Don’t be embarrassed, this is very common. Below are the record issues we see and help resolve in each instance:

  • Duplicates. Everyone has them. What you need to find out is: How many and why? Some companies create purposeful duplicates – but many don’t. So if yours weren’t done on purpose, it’s time to decide if you’re keeping them and make sure you totally understand the data surrounding them so you can decide how they’ll reflect in your new platform. More on managing duplicates and marketing data in general here: https://www.leadmd.com/best-practices/blog/4-steps-to-cleaner-marketing-data-a-guide-for-marketers/
  • Organize Records. Think about your definitions for different types of objects and processes.
    • What is your process for managing leads vs. contacts and accounts?
    • Who owns these records?
    • Who or what automated systems maintain the accuracy?
    • Are any records only in your current MA and not in you your CRM? And vice versa?
  • System Return on Investment. The point of marketing automation platforms is to systematically perform marketing motions and then report on their success. It’s in the acronym, but it’s worth highlight here the importance of both return and investment when calculating ROI:
    • First, consider return AKA revenue:
      • Where are you tracking revenue and what specifically do you want to track?
      • Although this seems obvious, we’ve seen businesses make decisions to customize their systems in a way that impacts the downstream reporting in marketing automation. Here is an example: the standard “Amount” field in Salesforce is what most MAPs will use for opportunity amount. However, if you are a SaaS organization built on recurring revenue, the “Amount” field likely doesn’t populate with the first year’s annual recurring revenue (ARR). Yet, often that’s the desired value for the “R” in marketing ROI. Or say you have a requirement to understand lifetime value. Does your platform support that ask?
      • Seriously, this one small step detail is a game changer. It can shift of your company’s most important data.
      • Next, marketing investment:
        • Where is your marketing budget stored? Who has access?
        • How do you categorize your budget? If you want your new platform to report as turnkey as possible, think about aligning it to your budget categories. How is this currently happening? How will it happen in the future?

Note that these are only the main objects. If you need additional attention to detail with custom objects, it’s essential to also map out the transition.

Fields

Unfortunately, fields are often in the same shape as records, and it’s imperative that you give them detailed attention before migration. Specifically, consider the following:

  • How do you normalize demographic fields like industry, title, revenue, etc.? Do you have uniform processes for inputting data? The toughest question: does your team actually follow the processes?
  • Do you have private data considerations? Depending on your industry, you may have additional regulations like HIPAA to adhere to or credit card information to keep secure.
  • Do you have a preference center?
  • Until now, how have you managed email opt-in/opt-out? Are you following GDPR, CCA and our newest acronym, CCPA? Do you know how? If not, learn more here.

Find tips on how to facilitate these data governance conversations here.

Your Website

This process is a perfect opportunity to do a website audit. Here’s a whole blog about that process. If you want to simply migrate what you’re already doing, that’s understandable. Consider the following:

  • How many forms do you have and where are they currently housed? Do any link directly to your product (e.g. a free trial)?
  • Do you need to recreate any micro sites?
  • Do you have an SSL?
  • Do you have a web personalization product?

Assets: Emails, Landing Pages, Forms

A lot of things can be lumped in here, but for migration purpose we’re talking about emails, images, landing pages and forms. Its critical to approach asset migration with a plan and a clear understanding of how it works or you’ll up frustrated, overwhelmed and want to toss in the towel.

Here’s are the things to consider in order to keep your sanity:

  • What’s the status of your email templates? Are they standardized for your new platform?
  • Are you ready to migrate each asset, one at a time? You’ll likely need to update the links and images since locations will be different, so you should have this information handy (and the time set aside to do so).
  • Do you know how to create a new program, update links, and initiate tests and QA?

It’s a lot to think about and keep track of. We use this workbook with our clients. You can grab it and get started documenting. Whether you work with a partner to help transition or do it on your own, this level of detail needs to happen, so might as well get started now.

Business Processes

Marketing Activities

Take time to consider all of your marketing activities. Specifically:

  • How are you using Salesforce.com campaigns?
  • Are you tracking marketing spend per campaign?
  • How do you track social?
  • How do you track in-person activities, like tradeshows? (When we have them again)
  • Who imports lists? Do you have a template? How do you standardize what you import?
  • What data points do you report on for campaigns? Is creative important? Segment? Business unit? Creator? Channel?
  • What timeframes do you report on? Weekly? Monthly? Quarterly?
  • What are your workflows? How might these change in the new system?

How you answer these questions will determine what exactly what you’re getting into. For example, if you’re used to reporting on influence historically, it’s really important to lay out how you’re expecting to do that in your new system. Or, if you’ve housed most of your reporting in a marketing automation platform, think about how that will look in your next one. Frankly, I always recommend a data warehouse as a system of record. You’re moving marketing automation platforms and you likely don’t want to go through another migration, but you likely will.

Making changes to processes, habits and approaches can require a lot of work and testing since data manipulations can be tedious and nuanced. But it’s important to know that before you dive in. It helps ensure you understand your expectations versus the realities of your next solution, so you can get up and running effectively.

Sales Processes

Marketing isn’t the only department impacted by moving to a new system. Because sales and marketing are intertwined and dependent on each other, we have to factor in their tools, processes and people as well.

Sales tools and the sales team activities need to be factored into reports. Here’s what to consider regarding sales activities:

  • What do your sales teams use to send emails to prospects?
  • How do you leverage activities in Salesforce.com?
  • Do you track sales social selling motions?
  • Do you factor the motions in Salesforce.com campaigns? Do you factor them into attribution?
  • What are your workflows? Will they change?

Naturally, sales processes will change when you change systems. Here is what to consider:

  • How are leads, contacts and account ownership managed?
  • Where does your lead routing stand?
  • If you’re using an ABM approach and a new lead from a target account enters, what happens? If you’re a Salesforce user, a tool like LeanData can help you automatically convert the lead and associate them to the correct account.
  • When your data changes, does ownership of that data change too?
  • How often do territories and assignments change?

Lead Management

A major function of a MAP is to bring in, manage, route and track leads. When transitioning, this is one of the most important areas to consider, as the last thing you want is to “lose” valuable sales in the process of a system move.

  • What records come into your database, but are total junk? And what criteria are used to indicate junk?
  • How do you treat “recycled” leads?
  • Do you have Service-Level Agreements (SLAs) in place between sales and marketing?
  • How’s the relationship between sales and marketing leadership? No, but for real. Think about a disagreement between them and how they overcame it. Then, paint the picture of how much of successful lifecycle implementation is about change management.
  • How are you tracking a lead’s status today? Do you plan to keep it or change?

Sales and marketing alignment is tough and often organizations think theirs is better than it actually is. Check out research on the subject here and see where your alignment sits here.

Lead Scoring

Your goal and process around lead scoring it can be similar between systems, but the functional steps may be different. Find the answers to these questions:

  • Are you planning to use traditional behaviors and demographics?
  • How much do you know about 3rd party intent data? Many still call this “the future.” But if you’re forward-thinking, now may be the time to learn more
  • How do your Business Development Representatives (BDRs), Sales Development Representatives (SDRs), and Account Executives (AEs) prospect? How do they prioritize?
  • What are your current lead scoring rules?
  • What do you have in place in terms of sales alerts?

Training and Support

With any luck, you have chosen a platform that provides stellar support. The top systems not only offer training videos and webinars, but also have entire communities built around them. The right support and community will make the investment more worthy of your time and money.

That said, simply having the resources available doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed success. You have to have a plan. Here are some considerations to think through before making the migration:

  • How much training did you invest in for your team with your past system?
  • How receptive is your team to this new system?
  • Have you properly prepared your team for the necessary changes in behavior and learning curve they’re sure to experience with a new solution?
  • Is there anyone internally who has worked with the platform before, and can serve as in-house expert?
  • How do you plan to train and equip your employees? Will you mandate training? How much? Will it be ongoing? How much do you plan to spend to make sure everyone is adequately trained?
  • Have you thought about using vendor consultants, provided by the MA technology provider?
  • Are you open to working with a third-party consultant or specialized agency to get up and running? Or if you run into snags?
  • How do you plan to make use of the provider’s resource center?

All of these considerations are crucial to think through ahead of time, so you have a defined roadmap and sufficient budget and buy-in before getting started.

Finally, Timing Matters

When is the last time you reviewed your current contract? Before jumping all in on migration read the fine print. Is there a 30-day out clause? Do they force you to send a cancellation letter via certified mail, written in blood? Make sure you know what hoops you need to jump through before your system (and billing) will be shut off.

Timing is important because no one wants to pay for two systems. Yet, you should expect some overlap, and, my advice, more overlap than you may want, because something almost always goes wrong. Here’s a pro tip: start thinking about migration 6 (yes, SIX!) months before your contract is up. Spend those six months doing the following:

  • Month 1: Researching, planning, short listing vendors
  • Month 2: Reviewing your vendors requirements
  • Month 2.5: Negotiating
  • Month 3-5: Building
  • Month 6: Testing and getting comfortable

Migrating marketing automation systems can be a lot of work, but the ROI can be worth it. The right solution can help you improve your marketing and sales, better retain your customers and keep your revenue steadily climbing. But it requires work and intentionality, and walking through all of the considerations outlined here. We wish you all the best!

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