An 8-Step Plan for Migrating to a New Marketing Automation Program

by Dan Lyons

Goldfish jumping to larger bowlThis post originally appeared on the Opinion section of Inbound Hub. To read more content like this, subscribe to Opinion.

Michael Freeman wasn’t psyched about having to migrate from one marketing automation system to another. But it had to be done. Last year Freeman’s employer, a telecom company called ShoreTel, moved from Eloqua to HubSpot, and it fell to Freeman, the head of demand generation at ShoreTel, to oversee the project.

Freeman says he wouldn’t want to go through it again — “I’ve been here for two years, and this was the first time I was ever unhappy,” he says. “Since finishing the migration I’m much, much happier, and if I can help someone else who is in that situation, then I’m happy to help.”

Migrations are becoming more common in the marketing automation space. A few years ago that wasn’t the case. The field was so new that when most companies installed marketing automation programs they were starting with a clean slate.

But as the marketing automation field matures, an increasing number of companies find themselves wanting or needing to migrate. That might be because they’re dissatisfied with a vendor. Or maybe a company is being acquired and must migrate to the marketing automation program that its new owner uses.

Freeman says ShoreTel moved mostly because it wanted greater ease of use, but also wanted to rethink its approach to marketing. He explains his reasons for moving to HubSpot in this video:

How They Did It

One challenge Freeman faced was that the people who had installed and configured the previous marketing automation system at ShoreTel were no longer at the company. And the software had been in place since around 2007. “I had to go in and figure out how the whole thing was set up by someone else, with very little documentation on the current setup,” he says.

In any migration, there will be some translation required. How much depends on which applications are involved. Some have more in common than others.

Freeman offered to walk me through the steps he followed in his migration. The main thing, he says, is to put in the time up front to make a realistic schedule and anticipate the steps that are going to be the most challenging. “Planning is the most important piece,” he says.

Here are eight steps he recommends:

1) Take inventory.

Map out the workflows, lists, contact fields, and content such as landing pages, emails, blog posts and images that you have in your existing marketing automation program. “Just define what you have and what you need to bring over,” he says.

2) Do a clean-up.

As long as you’re in the middle of change, it’s a good opportunity to get rid of old offers and other assets you don’t need anymore. It’s also a good time to comb through your contacts database and get rid of some email addresses, for example ones that have bounced or ones that have not opened one of your emails in a long time. (For advice on how to scrub your list, see this story.) “Bottom line is, this is an opportunity for spring cleaning,” Freeman says.

3) Figure out which assets need to be changed.

Identify any adjustments that you need to make in workflows that are being carried over.

4) Export your data.

“Because it’s a moving target, I set up an auto download or auto data export that ran daily,” Freeman says.

5) Put the pieces back together.

Start with landing pages and emails. “We took landing pages we had from Eloqua and applied styling and template changes,” Freeman says. “We recreated them in HubSpot, but with a new look and feel.”

6) Perform a sync.

Sync your contacts with, and start recreating workflows, lists, and forms.

7) Test.

“We tested a lot before going live, but we also spent three days after going live with HubSpot looking out for problems, and fixing problems and oversights,” Freeman says. “That’s inevitable. There are going to be little hiccups. But we worked them out and everything was golden after that.”

According to folks at HubSpot, you might want to run the old and new systems in tandem for some period of time.

8) Shut off the old system.

Hey, you don’t need it anymore. You’re done. Congratulations.

ShoreTel finished the migration a few months ago, and has had no problems since. “I always find things to tune or improve,” Freeman says, “but things have really gone smoothly.”

The Payoff

The biggest benefit for ShoreTel is the new system is easier to use than the previous system. “I have seven people who are actively using this now,” he says. “Every time I do some training, people go, ‘Wow, that’s so easy!’”

His one biggest piece of advice to others who are planning a migration is to hire a consultant to help guide you through the process. “You shouldn’t try to do this on your own,” he says.

Nobody looks forward to software migration projects. But with the right planning, and realistic expectations, you can get to the promised land without too much damage to your psyche.

If you want some advice on how to evaluate marketing automation software, check out this free Marketing Automation Starter Kit. And once you’ve decided to make a leap, you can use this free guide to help you learn how to create marketing automation RFP.

Hot On the Paper Trail

 A receipt should be a chance to say more than “Thank you for shopping!”

By Baratunde Thurstonl

“What if we see the receipt more as a publishing medium?” Square CEO and Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey told retailers at their annual confab earlier this year. “A product unto itself that people actually want to take home, that they want to engage with, be fully interactive with?”

So it’s come to this: After encouraging us to communicate in 140 characters or less, Dorsey now wants us to tell stories via automated emails and tiny dot-matrix printers. Receipts are the next great frontier. And it’s actually not a bad idea. Dorsey’s comments were a relatively brief part of his keynote, but Square later confirmed that it is testing a new receipt design. “[Receipts] should be more than just a list of what they bought and the last four digits of their credit card,” says a Square spokesperson. “[Receipts] should allow them to connect better to the merchants they had this experience with.” [Slow clap.]

We now live in a world where everyone can more easily create, connect, and sell than ever before, but the actual transaction stands as one of the last barriers to extend tone, brand, and voice. There’s a way to make receipts more interesting that doesn’t also annoy everyone involved. A receipt can simply be a record of a transaction, something you search for when trying to categorize expenses or explain to a partner why you spent $46.30 on “Ben.” But a receipt can also be a platform for creativity to extend the relationship between customers and merchants into something more interesting.

I had this epiphany during my book tour in 2012. It was easy to connect with people on Twitter and Facebook, but when I wanted to talk to actual buyers–people spending money and not just clicks–I had to resort to inference and guesswork. Could I assume people tweeting with my hashtag also bought my book? No. Was it weird to publicly tap them on the shoulder and point them to a site with more content? Yes, yes it was. Why was I reverse-engineering a customer list via Twitter search?

The sad answer is that I had no other recourse. Amazon, iTunes, and offline retail bookstores put a wall between me and my most invested community. The generic tone of their transaction receipts felt like a missed opportunity.

What I’d love to offer, and what I think many buyers might like to see, is a chance to allow sellers to start a conversation. Whether via a marketplace platform like Amazon or a point-of-sale replacement like Square, a producer would have one shot–­perhaps a link, button, or a short line of text–in which to say to a buyer, “Hey, thanks for the money! Here’s some other stuff I’m up to. Click if you’re ­interested.” It’s not an extra email.

It’s not an auto-enrollment to a list buyers will never shake. But if you’ve bothered to spend hard-earned (or easily stolen) money on something, there’s a decent chance you want to hear what the maker of that thing has to say or sell beyond your purchase. If you’re a seller with a story to tell, this feels obvious.

Sometimes commerce isn’t just commerce. It’s about what it represents: interest. Buyers have spent money, but they’ve often made a statement. We owe them a chance at something more interesting in return.

[Illustration by Jeric Pio Agustin] A version of this article appeared in the April 2014 issue of Fast Company magazine.  Baratunde Thurston is the author of the New York Times best-seller How to Be Black and the founder of Cultivated Wit, a comedy and technology company that tells stories in engaging ways.

Pinterest For Marketing

Great bullet points at the end of Ira Blacker’s article

on using Pinterest for part of your business marketing strategy. When you think about it, every result has a corresponding image that lives in the beholder’s eye.

The first thing you need is a worthy image and one that may interest others who will like it enough in order to “re pin” it on their Pinterest page. Re pins are the same as when someone re tweets your post on Twitter or re posts your blog on LinkedIn. It provides your original post with more “Google juice.” Google especially likes to see the original post, image or blog gain momentum from reposting or commentary from others as this enhances your “Google Authorship.” There are two ways to find quality images, either by finding some on the web or creating your own via your photography or Photoshop skills.

Once you have found an appropriate image, it can be uploaded to Pinterest on its own or as part of your blog as I regularly do. Browser plug-ins such as “Add-This” and others support a one click add of your blog image to Pinterest or you can simply upload one via the Pinterest web.  Once uploaded there are several things you then need do in order to “market” your image.

  • Create a “board” and name it for your important keyword such as “my books.” (You can create several boards)
  • “Curate” some other great pins from others in order to provide your boards with great content.
  • Start uploading your own unique pins
  • Add a link to your web or blog.
  • Add tags via “hash tags” such as #books
  • Place a description as to the content of your blog/web page/about…
  • Use keywords related to your brand in the description
  • Use other social media sites to promote your pins on Pinterest. Tweet your pin, etc.
  • Embed the Pinterest button on your web or blog so that “pinnable content” makes it easy and inviting for others.
  • Follow other’s boards in order to encourage them to follow yours and say thank you when your images are “re-pinned” by others.
  • Take advantage of the new “Business Page” from Pinterest which will give you more tools and help with your overall branding.
  • Create attractive coupons for offers you have as a pin.
  • You now can add “animated gif” images as pins. It is sort of like a mini trailer or video.

– See more at: