Turn and Face the Strange: Changing Marketing Automation Platforms

Marketo Employee
Marketo Employee

So, not too long ago, my fellow Adobe Professional Services consultants and I were having a mini-meltdown in our Slack channel because one of our productivity tools had changed the user interface dramatically with its latest update. (Hey, we’re only human – we get used to things being organized a certain way just like anyone else does!)


Nobody particularly loved the change and our reactions ranged from “Okay, I will take a few hours and figure out how to use it” to “How do I turn it off and go back to what it used to be?” For the record, I reverted to the old interface until I either, a) have more time available to me to explore it and decide how to make it work for me or b) the software forces my hand and stops allowing the regression. When my teammates teased me that I was resistant to change, I said no, I’m actually good at change and here’s why:


I prioritize my finite amount of energy for dealing with change like this –

  1.      Change I cannot control that affects me gets dealt with first.
  2.      If I have energy left, I focus on change I can control that shows a clear benefit.
  3.      Finally, I turn to change I can control that has no obvious upside for me but might need to be done for other reasons.

The interface upgrade fell under number three for me, and there it remains for a bit longer while I focus on my clients and other things, like writing this blog.


Why do I bring this up? One of the most frequent projects we at Adobe Professional Services take on is helping our clients move from one marketing automation platform (MAP) to an Adobe application like Marketo Engage or Adobe Campaign. And, often, this “swap” is one that the team we’re working with did not have a direct say in. It is change they cannot control. And it can feel scary and frustrating and tiring. We’re here to make it as easy as we can, knowing that this kind of change isn’t easy. How can you make this kind of change easier for yourself, even if it wasn’t your choice?


In the immortal words of David Bowie: Turn and face the strange. There’s no ignoring it. And make those changes work for you with a few tips:

This Is How It’s Always Worked Isn’t How It Should Always Work

While sometimes the timeline to move from one MAP to another is so compressed that you simply must rebuild what you already have to close-as-possible, if you can take the opportunity to analyze how you might improve your processes in your new MAP, do that! Every MAP is different - not just the obvious things like UIs, but its data architecture, how it processes data, how it qualifies records, how email editors work, etc. Odds are you built what you have today based - at least in part - on how your current platform works. That may not be the right way to build it in your new MAP. You might even be able to gain some efficiency and performance.


If you don’t have an Adobe Professional Services consultant advising you directly on how to optimally design your Marketo Engage instance, consider assigning a champion or two in your organization who, early on, take our Experience League courses, read all the documentation and participate in community forums. Make this a priority. Use these individuals as your Change Guides, who can help translate your current system to your new one and advise you on whether parity makes sense or if there are opportunities to do better.


Take Time for Spring Cleaning

I haven’t yet met a marketer who isn’t a bit of a hoarder. You will be tempted to rebuild in your new MAP every campaign you ever ran (with all its assets, of course), and every data point you collected – even things that expired two years ago and were never repeated. Don’t do this. Keep only what you NEED – not in the “sparks joy” kind of way – but in terms of what you honestly will use as a marketer in your new MAP. Don’t clutter up your new “home” with things you know in your heart you’ll never need again but want to bring with you “just in case.”


Start with your evergreen campaigns, things that are always running. Those should be brought over whole cloth, while looking for opportunities to optimize it for Marketo Engage, of course. Next, look at your newest one-time campaigns – if you think you’d repeat it, it’s something to consider bringing with you, assets and all. Use whatever data is available in your current system to look for campaigns, assets, etc. with the largest numbers (people, uses, etc.) Decide that things earlier than a certain date in time will not come over. Think in terms of why you need something. If you need to keep some historical record that someone participated in a campaign you ran five years ago, you don’t need to bring over that whole campaign and all its assets – you just need to bring a list of the people who were in it.

Identify a Minimum Viable Product and Stick to It

While you’ll certainly have some sort of deadline where you must be off your current system and live on your new one, that doesn’t always mean everything has to be complete at go live. Especially if you’re dealing with a very compressed timeline, identify those campaigns, assets, workflows that must be functioning at go live or key business objectives and/or customer experiences will be jeopardized. Those should be your priority for what must be live at go live. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but I promise you have some marketing campaigns that aren’t going to crush the business metrics if they aren’t operational on day one. If you have all the time in the world for rebuilding, quality review and user acceptance testing, get them all done for go-live. But for most of our clients, they are inevitably dealing with a lack of time or staff (or both) to get it all done by go-live, so we’ll often help them create a prioritization document and tracker to focus on inventory for go-live, for the first month after go-live, etc.


Acknowledge the Grass May Actually Be Greener

No matter how much you love, or are simply used to, your current MAP, you know it has its flaws. Maybe it’s always bothered you that it’s restrictive about how it lets you collect and process email preferences, or that its visual canvas becomes a bit of a “spaghetti mess” if you’re doing anything more complicated than a one-time email blast. Maybe the number of workarounds you’ve had to create for it to accommodate your increasingly complex business processes has made it a little cumbersome. Perhaps your new MAP can solve those challenges and even offer you some functionality you didn’t know you wanted!


In fact, I would posit that you should ASSUME that’s the case, that if you’re moving to Marketo Engage (or moving to a fresh new version of it!), you WILL get some wonderful new ways to expand your marketing efforts and your marketing skills. Go into it with that mindset as best you can because, in the words of my very wise mother, even with changes you can’t control, there is still one thing you can: your attitude about it!