Once you’ve made the decision to move to a new marketing automation platform, it’s time to gather all technical requirements for the migration. Ensuring that all impacted parties will be involved is critical to success, particularly if your migration is going to be a complex one. For most enterprises, we’d recommend involving your sales leaders, as well as your counterparts in business systems and CRM administration. They’ll be able to provide valuable feedback that will ensure the migration ends up being a net positive for all parties.
Outline your business requirements
Once you’ve assembled your requirements-gathering team, sit down together and discuss your key business requirements and how those might impact your purchasing decision. Certain marketing automation platforms are better suited to serving enterprise businesses, while others are more optimal for SMEs. Which platform you end up choosing will depend on how well each one meets your unique business requirements.
When doing your exploratory research on which marketing automation platform, make sure you include these following requirements:
Functionality at scale
For most enterprises, scalability is of the utmost importance. If your marketing automation platform isn’t able to operate at a high level even with a massive marketing database, your team could be severely limited. It’s worth considering Oracle’s Eloqua or Marketo if you’re looking for a marketing platform that’s designed for large data sets. Both platforms have thousands of enterprise customers and are designed with scalability in mind.
Integration with CRM and sales processes
Having a marketing automation platform that will still work with your other marketing and sales tools is critical to avoiding unnecessary disruptions within the business. Platforms that support other integrations will open up new opportunities for your marketing team that you may not have considered before. If third party integrations are a concern, platforms like Marketo and Act-On both boast a wide variety of integrations, and are straightforward to set up as well.
Reporting and analytics
Having solid marketing analytics capabilities is critical for any organization looking to optimize campaigns based on marketing data. Many enterprises opt to run their marketing analytics in a separate data warehouse, but for those organizations that like to keep things in-house, it’s worth comparing reporting capabilities of the platforms you’re considering. Among the dozens of vendors on the market, Eloqua and Pardot consistently get solid reviews for their extensive reporting capabilities, making them well worth considering if this is a key consideration.
Large businesses sometimes generate thousands of leads per month, and it’s difficult to know which are worth following up on first. Ensuring your marketing automation platform has lead scoring functionality will set your sales team up for success once your team begins generating demand at scale. And if you already have a lead scoring system set up, you’ll want to make sure your future platform can support your current prioritization logic. For lead scoring, consider something like Pardot—myriad options for prioritizing leads and well-suited for large enterprises.
Every marketing automation platform has the ability to send out emails, but some are more full-featured than others. If the ability to run nurture campaigns and A/B tests is at all a consideration for your organization, it’s critical to identify a marketing automation platform that provides support for more advanced email campaigns. Marketo in particular is a platform for which email campaigns are a key strength. In addition to supporting nurture campaigns and A/B testing, it also offers dynamic segmentation for campaigns.
Even if you’re running a marketing organization with a multimillion dollar budget, inflated costs can be a key concern. On the higher end of the budget scale, there’s no one platform that objectively provides the best value, but anecdotally we’ve seen more and more enterprises opting to run with Marketo based on budget alone. If you’re running a SME, though, it might be worth taking a look at Hubspot—it’s well-known for providing a full featured platform at a reasonable price, and new features continue to be rolled out every month.
Obtain buy-in on key requirements from business stakeholders
Once you’ve defined your key requirements, get buy-in on the requirements themselves from your key business stakeholders. Meet with people in business systems and sales to sync on the final list, and obviously solicit approval from finance and executive teams.
Beyond just vetting requirements with the leadership team, however, it can be useful to do a needs assessment with front line managers and individual contributors. Doing this will give you better insight into what your employees’ needs are from a tactical perspective. Such insight serves as a helpful sense check before moving forward in the procurement process.
Create your request for proposal
After getting buy-in on your new list of requirements, create a request for proposal (RFP) that can then be circulated amongst potential vendors. Create a template or use a pre-existing one. Using your previously gathered technical requirements as input, outline your organization’s budget and desired business outcomes for the migration up front. Structured documentation is critical to the procurement process but also acts as a sanity check for your desired business outcomes.
Throughout the exercise of requirements gathering, remember that when it comes to marketing automation, organizational needs vary by industry. Companies in the agency space usually work better with marketing automation platforms that are primarily alert-based, while B2B companies generally prefer to work with more full-featured platforms that offer database segmentation capabilities.
Every purchasing decision requires trade offs, and transitioning to a new marketing automation platform is no different. Assembling a cross-functional team to define your business requirements up front will minimize the number of these trade offs you’re forced to make when choosing a new platform.
Requirements gathering is one of the most important parts of migrating to a new marketing automation platform, because it’s here that you’ll be able to define what you want your organizational outcomes to look like. It’s the perfect opportunity to build out your wish list of features, while also strengthening collaboration between your marketing organization and other parts of the company.
In the next part of our series on migrating marketing automation platforms, we’ll take a look at how to map out your options, and choose the platform that’s right for your organization.