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Intro guide: Are you using the right marketing automation platform?

Migrating marketing automation platforms is an incredibly complex task for marketing leaders, as it requires extensive strategic planning, cross-functional collaboration, and technical requirements-gathering. But the end result is worth it, as having a marketing automation platform that’s better suited for your team’s needs will unlock new opportunities and help you generate more demand than ever before.

As a final overview, let’s take a look at each step of the migration process, and what pieces of each step need to be in place to ensure a successful migration.

Step 1: Determine the timeframe for the move

How long does it take?

Determining the timeframe for a potential migration shouldn’t take more than a week. Once this step is done, you can begin requirements-gathering and comparing vendors.

Who should be involved?

For scoping out the timeframe, it’s recommended to involve your business systems and finance teams for perspective on timing from a technical and budgetary perspective, respectively.

Keys to Success

For most organizations, migrating marketing automation platforms is a time-intensive process that generally takes between six months and a year. This type of migration may represent a long-term disruption to some of your marketing functions, meaning that accurately estimating the timeframe for the transition is critical to success.

Partnering with your technical team to estimate the timeframe for migration will help determine whether this transition makes sense for your business in the first place, given the amount of time and resources involved. Once this is done, map out the entire migration process from beginning to end, and determine how many weeks each step will take. To ensure success, get your cross-functional partners involved early on – they’ll have a better understanding of how certain parts of the business will be impacted, and can help you anticipate any potential roadblocks.

Step 2: Define your goals, gather requirements, and make a decision

How long does it take?

Aligning on your business goals for the migration and doing the necessary requirements gathering is a time intensive process, and could take two to three months. Once you’ve made a decision on a vendor, there may be some overlap with Step 3 as well.

Who should be involved?

Getting your sales and marketing teams involved early on in this step is critical, as they’ll be able to best articulate what their current pain points are, and give you a directional idea of what an ideal solution would look like.

Keys to Success

First and foremost, clarify why you’re looking to move to a new platform before you start looking for vendors. Work with your management teams in marketing and sales to define the business outcomes you want to drive towards with a new marketing automation platform, and then work backwards to determine your technical requirements.

Once you’ve gathered all technical requirements, it’s time to map out your options and decide on which marketing automation platform you’ll be moving to. After listing out all of your options, weigh the pros and cons of each one individually to determine which platform will be the best choice for your organization. Getting a second opinion from your business systems or CRM team is also advisable, as transitioning marketing automation platforms will nearly always have a technical impact.

While your new marketing automation platform may only be used by your marketing organization, the downstream impacts on sales can be profound. True collaboration on this step is absolutely critical to making a successful transition. Once you’ve made a decision on which platform you’ll be moving to, it’s time to prepare your organization for the transition.

Step 3: Begin mapping out your new business processes

How long does it take?

There will likely be some overlap between this step and the next, but in general, mapping out your new business processes generally takes no more than a month (although depending on the complexity of your organization, it could take longer).

Who should be involved?

Your business systems, marketing, and sales teams should all be involved in determining what your new business processes will look like post-migration.

Keys to Success

As soon as you’ve decided which platform you’ll be migrating to, it’s time to collaborate with marketing and sales on mapping out your new business processes. Get your account manager at your new vendor onboard early on if possible, so they can provide input on this step as well.

Once you identify which business processes will be changing (and how they’ll be changing), communicate the changes to your team, as well as when you anticipate the transition will be taking place. This will give your team time to react and notify you of any last-minute changes before the migration occurs.

Step 4: Ensure all of your data is taken care of

How long does it take?

It usually takes 2-3 months to perform a full audit and backup of your data, but it could take even longer depending on the complexity of your organizational data structure. Depending on how quickly you’re looking to migrate platforms, you may want to complete this step while mapping out your new business processes.

Who should be involved?

Get your business partners in IT, CRM administration, and marketing operations involved with this step. They’ll ensure data integrity is maintained throughout the transition, and help you perform a full backup of all marketing data.

Keys to Success

Before transitioning to a new marketing automation platform, make sure your data is backed up. Even with impeccable preparation, things can go wrong when migrating data – and when they do, you’ll be glad you have a backup. Work with your CRM administration team to perform a full backup of your data, and replicate your current data structure as accurately as possible. If for some reason the migration doesn’t work out, you’ll want this dataset as a fallback option.

In addition to merely backing up your data, audit it too and determine which data can be migrated to the new platform, and what can’t. If certain data elements can’t be migrated to your new platform, develop a contingency plan so that this data isn’t lost altogether.

Step 5: Consider additional technical impacts

How long does it take?

You should really be considering the technical impact of migrating platforms throughout the entire process, but to be safe, do it one last time right before you make the transition. It shouldn’t take more than a week or two, but could save you a lot of time later on.

Who should be involved?

Get your marketing team involved with this last step, as they’re likely using your current platform on a daily basis and will be able to surface any last-minute concerns before making the transition.

Keys to Success

Above all, take care to be thorough with this step. It’s easy to get excited by the features your new platform will offer, but don’t forget to ensure that your demand gen performance won’t be impacted by the transition.

Key impacts that are often overlooked include your new platform’s impact on email deliverability and marketing performance. It’s also worth auditing all of your 3rd party integrations one last time to ensure they’ll be supported by your new marketing automation platform.

In Sum

Migrating to a new marketing automation is a time and cost-intensive process, and that’s why it pays to come prepared. Getting your entire cross-functional team involved in determining both the requirements and timing for the transition will increase the likelihood of a worry-free migration, and set your marketing organization up for success in the months ahead.

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