Marketers are sending out more digital communications than ever. That means they’re asking more of their MA platforms than ever before. Combine that with canceled in-person events and many of us working from home, and now is actually a really good time to take a closer look at the (often taken-for-granted) technology that makes all that email magic happen.
Several clients have already reached out to us for help cleaning up their Eloqua and Marketo platforms — or moving to a new instance altogether. So, if you’re wondering where to begin when it comes to dusting off, sprucing up, or replacing your MA platform, here are five steps you can follow to determine your best course of action and then make it happen:
The first (and arguably most important) step is to determine whether it makes the most sense to clean up your existing instance or move to an entirely new one and start fresh.
- Multiple instances: If you have multiple instances, your answer will be pretty obvious. One of our clients found themselves struggling with several Eloqua instances after just as many acquisitions, so consolidating them all into a single instance of Eloqua was a no brainer.
- Single instance: Sometimes, though, the decision only becomes clear once you take a long, hard look under the hood. Another client had hoped to clean up their current instance of Eloqua. When they tried to pare down the number of fields, though, they ran into a huge roadblock: dozens and even hundreds of underlying dependencies. It wasn’t too surprising: their system was roughly 10 years old, several admins had come and gone, and no documentation or consistent management processes were ever put in place. Their system was, to say the least, cluttered. So, it made more sense to setup a new instance of Eloqua exactly the way they wanted it.
If you’re able to clean up your existing instance, the majority of these steps will still apply. The good news is that you’ll be able to significantly reduce your project timeline and not spend your “free time” submitting purchase order requests and following up with accounts payable. Either way, investing the time and resources now will pay off in the long run.
Whether you’ve made the decision to clean up or start anew, lay the groundwork for success by always beginning with a comprehensive review of, well, everything. As Benjamin Franklin wisely pointed out, “By Failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” So, prepare and succeed.
- Current system audit: Perform a thorough audit of your current system. If you’re dealing with multiple instances, compare everything: fields, file names, archival process (if any), and so on. This way, you can begin to uncover any similarities that may exist between the systems, as well as note any differences.
- Asset and template audit: You’ll also need to conduct an audit of all your assets/templates (emails, landing pages, forms). You’ll take a similar approach: create and share a comprehensive list of assets, compare everything, and work together to determine what stays and what goes.
- Establish a data model: If you’re refreshing or consolidating into an existing instance, congratulations! You should already have an established data model in place. If you’re moving to a new instance, you may want to take this time to review and refine your current data model. If you’re consolidating multiple instances into a new one, you’ll need to dive even deeper. Open up a discussion around the new data model you’d like to put in place. Disagreements are bound to happen, so you’ll need to determine what are priorities for the business and what aren’t. You can’t make everyone happy. Your goal is to make the best decisions for your business.
- Setup shared documentation management: This may sound like a snooze but, just like a good night’s sleep, it makes life so much easier that you end up getting more done that day than you otherwise would have. What you use — Google Sheets, Box, Microsoft OneDrive — is up to you. Just make sure you share a single system of record with all your key stakeholders. When we perform an initial audit of a client’s system, we provide an extensive list of all their fields, campaigns, and emails over the past year (we’ve found that anything older than that tends to no longer be relevant).
- Define roles and responsibilities: Once you’ve finalized your documentation and agreed upon a shared format, make sure everyone understands their roles and responsibilities moving forward. Who will review and tag all of the fields and assets they’d like to keep? Who will approve (or not approve) everything? Make sure everyone — and everything — is accounted for.
If you’re consolidating multiple instances or migrating to a new one, now is the time to plan the actual migration of everything you just spent all that time discussing and reviewing. So, come up with an agreed-upon process to migrate your information, or enlist the help of a third-party vendor to help lighten the load.
- Data: First, you’ll need to determine how you’ll populate the data in your new instance. Will you manually upload it, or will you import the data directly from your CRM? For the client with an unwieldy number of underlying dependencies, a manual process made the most sense.
- Assets and templates: Next, you’ll need to determine whether you’re going to manually recreate each of your assets or enlist the help of a third-party vendor. Some marketers choose to bring all of their campaigns and assets over, while others decide they want to build new templates from scratch in their new system. Whatever you decide will depend on a number of factors. If your assets number in the hundreds, it probably makes sense to enlist some help for your migration.
You wouldn’t send out an email to prospects and customers without your standard QA process (you shouldn’t be, at any rate), so don’t immediately flip the switch after cleaning up or migrating your instance without testing first:
- Spot-check all of your assets and data
- Make sure your segment counts add up correctly
- Send test emails
- Verify that everything functions the way you expect it to (all hyperlinks work, all images render, all pages download, all form submissions work correctly)
Congratulations! After you’ve finished testing and have had multiple sets of eagle eyes review everything ad nauseam, it’s time to launch — whether that means moving your current instance into production or deploying your new one. Activate your campaigns, and enjoy the newfound confidence that comes with streamlined, error-free data and fully functioning, cleaned-up assets.
Spring cleaning for the future
Spring cleaning is a long-held tradition that dates back to biblical times. We may even be biologically hardwired for it. When we spring clean in our personal lives, we invest our precious time and energy so we can later enjoy the fruits of all our painstaking labor.
The same holds true for spring cleaning your MA platform. It’s a bit of work, but it’s well worth it when you don’t have to spend valuable time trying to figure out which asset to select or whether you should select Title, Job Title, Job Description, Job Level, or Job Category in the next list you pull. This is your opportunity to get your MA platform exactly the way you want it — and make it much easier to use in the process.
Robbie Whetzel, Solutions Architect with DemandGen, has over 10 years of experience within Marketing Automation with an expertise in Oracle Eloqua. He has helped DemandGen clients solution for and implement lead scoring models, data normalization programs, contact level security configuration, and CRM integrations.