The decision to undertake a marketing automation migration process does not come easy. It involves a lot of research, and apart from that, it also requires careful planning to gain the results and solve the pain points of your current marketing automation platform without major disruptions in your current initiatives. A recent report we conducted revealed that the top technology integrated with CRM solutions are marketing automation and email marketing applications (49% of the respondents claimed so). More than this, the same report revealed that misaligned processes across marketing and sales inhibit reaching business goals and need to ensure efficient, data-driven alignment across sales and marketing teams via CRM. Thus, paying attention to Marketing Automation andCRM compatibility should always be accounted for.
Although such decisions have the potential to breathe new life into the way your Marketing department operates, it’s a project you cannot underestimate. This blog post will show you how a similar process usually works and, most importantly, how to handle your most important asset: your data.
Start With an Overall Picture of Your Current Situation
You can’t just start migrating to a new platform. You need to set clear demands and steps for the migration project. Although many would assume that similar functionalities will translate identically between your old and new platform, there are a few points you should be mindful of.
- What assets and programs are critical and need to be migrated?
- Are there any prior integrations (with your CRM, for instance) you must re-establish with your next MA platform
- How deeply must you clean your current database before migration.
- How will you interpret the first few months of reporting with your new tool without historical data?
These are the few essential questions that management and the people in charge of the migration process need to answer. This will act as an initial risk assessment and must be thoroughly conducted.
Like with all big projects, timing is essential when you decide to switch MA platforms. Generally, you will need to budget anywhere between three to four months to implement it. Naturally, you will need to slow down all your current processes and campaigns and other resource-intensive projects within the Marketing department.
- Use this time of slower initiatives to allow your department to get a grip on the new tool and master processes within it.
- Designate a team to master training and support within your department.
- Decide on a cross-over period that will allow you to transition between your current and next MA platform. This will allow you to gradually move your operations on the new platform without major operational hiccups.
- Break down task responsibilities and documented definitions for key terms and processes, such as life cycle modeling, lead qualification criteria, etc.
To empower your team to seamlessly contribute to the migration process, you need to set up Administrators in your next MA platform. They will need more permissions to handle complex processes, such as moving your old database to your new platform. Once you create admin accounts for some of your team members and share the credentials with them, you can kick off the data migration process.
And, onto the main point of this blog article: data migration. We said it, and everybody knows it: your tech stack is only as valuable as the data it holds, and this remains true for MA platforms, too. But data migration comes with a series of challenges:
- Outdated Data: One main challenge companies face when switching their old Marketing databases is obsolete and inaccurate data. This can be quickly solved through a data cleansing process, which requires a team effort. See which accounts still hold relevant data, update outdated data, and in some cases, you can even delete old records that are no longer relevant to your business,
- Data Loss: Data loss is another common issue when migrating data. To avoid this, ensure that you are testing for data loss and corruption, even from the planning stage.
- Data Security: To protect your data, make sure that you encrypt all your data before migrating.
- Planning Hiccups: Not all database migration initiatives are smooth sails. In your Marketing department’s case, if you use different tools for different marketing tasks, for instance, a different email marketing and marketing automation tool, make sure to locate all databases. Then decide how to convert all data types and normalize your data from disparate sources.
- Your Migration Strategy: Many companies make the mistake of not selecting a migration strategy that fits their needs and current situation. It’s best to discuss your current situation with your next MA platform vendor and see if they have valuable input.
At first sight, this looks like an impossible task, but some advantages derive from such initiatives:
- Reduced costs, improved performance, and increased scalability that derives from moving from an on-premise database to a cloud-based database;
- Merge data from disparate sources for a 360-degree view of your initiatives and operations.
Marketing Automation Database Migration: How To
As you would expect, database migration is a complex, multi-step process. It starts with assessing your current database, and it stands upon your solid migration strategy. Below are the steps you need to map out for a seamless migration.
1. Look at Your Current Database
To get a good grip on the entire migration process, you first need to understand your source database and try to answer the following questions:
- How big is your current database? This matters because your database complexity will determine the time and resources necessary to successfully complete this project.
- How big are your database tables? Million-record databases will most likely require suitable tools to assist you.
- What data types does your database hold? Migrating between different databases will always require conversion schemas to help you achieve the migration process.
2. Look at The Data
In this step, you’ll need to profile your source data and, most importantly, define its quality rules. This will help you overcome the above mentioned challenges, such as inconsistencies and duplicate or incorrect data. It may look like a lot of work. Still, this step is essential as it helps eliminate the risks associated with skipping it: delays, budget issues, or even complete database migration failure.
3. Data Conversions
In some cases, database migration occurs between different engines (think from SQL to Oracle databases). While manual conversions are possible, using a data migration tool with conversion schemas is best to speed up the process and avoid issues.
4. Test Your Migration Strategy
When migrating data, it’s always best to start small and build upon that gradually. Start with a small subset of data, profile it, and convert the schema. This is easier than executing the whole migration at once, and it poses fewer risks as it allows you to improve and adapt. This also helps you ensure that all mappings and transformations work as they should. Once you decide the strategy works, you can gradually increase the data volume you want to migrate.
Apart from the steps above, we have a few extra tips to help you in your MA migration process:
- Make sure that you integrate your new MA platform with your CRM first. This will give you the security that both platforms run in tandem and are synchronized, and you can start gathering further contact information before the migration process is complete.
- Make sure to map out fields for Contact and Account information in your new MA tool. Another aspect that contributes to having fully synchronized data. It will also give you the peace of mind that that data can be used appropriately to automate marketing interactions as soon as the migration process is over.
- Suppression lists matter. This helps you ensure you’re mindful of your do-not-contact records in your database.
- Because of GDPR and other regulations, ensure that your records have confirmed their consent or legitimate interest for you to have them in your database.
Marketing Automation platform data migration is a complex task. This is why you need to ensure that the vendor you select for your next automation endeavors is prepared to jump in and guide you with valuable information and advice. If you’re interested in how we are helping our customers migrate to our Marketing Automation tool, read our Practitioners Guide to Marketing Automation or get in touch with us and let’s chat!