Author: Susan Sauter
As Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the author of the children’s classic The Little Prince, said, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” As you’re defining your scope and vision for an engagement platform implementation, you need to have a clear plan and change management processes in place to be successful.
My recent switch from the enterprise consulting team to the education team at Marketo has given me greater exposure to customers who are either brand new to marketing automation or switching from another platform. Typically, I’m training a core group of people who are responsible for driving a successful new implementation; oftentimes, training takes place before any type of discovery or kick-off with the professional services teams has occurred.
Crawl, Walk, Run
While new customers are in different places along their respective journeys, there are best practices that all organizations should consider for a successful implementation in addition to ongoing successful adoption. One of the most important things to consider is defining the overall scope and vision of your digital marketing or engagement platform implementation.
Typically, when companies get started with a robust solution, they are super excited and want to get up and running quickly–oftentimes with a goal of utilizing as many new features as possible. Lots of teams are either drawn to proving they are getting the most out of their investment quickly or they have upper management pressuring them to show ROI in nothing flat.
This is where you have to be realistic about how much change your organization can handle at once. Biting off more than you can chew can lead to frustration, confusion, and failure. Marketo suggests a “Crawl, Walk, Run” phased approach. By initially focusing on the core team and essential must-haves, you’ll ensure success and build confidence–not only among the core implementation group but with other departments like sales or IT–as they see a focused and organized team executing on a realistic plan.
If you’re in charge of spearheading your new platform implementation, ask yourself the following questions to define the scope and vision:
What do people need to start using the engagement platform immediately?
Training is key, and I recommend onsite training for your core power users, like your demand generation or marketing operations teams, who will need to use the solution right away.
But what if you need to educate a lot of people to satisfy either upper management, IT, or other stakeholder visibility? For some organizations, the cost of including a lot of non-core users in either onsite or paid virtual training can be prohibitive. Instead, find out whether there are free, online training resources available to educate those who are just curious about the solution, or simply need a general overview, but may not need to be trained straight away—if ever. This is a great approach if you have a sandbox, or testing environment, that allows users to ‘play’ or experiment without fear of making changes to a production, or live environment.
Even if you don’t have a sandbox, pointing people to product documentation, recording sales webinars, or other free resources is a low-cost way to give people visibility into what your engagement platform can do and makes sure no one feels left out. Also, build ongoing training into your adoption plans; most solutions provide frequent releases as the platform continues to evolve with technology advancements.
What are some quick wins that can have the biggest impact?
Quick wins are highly subjective and depend a lot on your company’s marketing maturity and experience as well as business objectives. For ‘newbies’ to an engagement or digital marketing platform, this might include adding A/B testing and lead scoring. For more experienced teams, it might include setting up best practice program templates to enable scaling (via cloning) and extending access and insights to sales through built-in tools. In Marketo, this is done through smart lists and report subscriptions and/or Marketo Sales Insights.
What are my key KPIs and how am I going to report on them?
In addition to setting some basics reporting goals, like a lift in conversions or growth of lead quantity and quality, set tactical metrics around content performance for emails including opens, clicks, and unsubscribes and include web engagement metrics. Base these metrics on industry benchmarks, or existing baseline data you already have in our current system if you are migrating from another marketing platform or more basic email solution provider.
Consider who should be receiving the reports and at what cadence. You can set up subscriptions, but you might not want to socialize reports until meaningful data is available. Ask which roles in which departments should receive reports. These could include sales and marketing managers, directors, vice presidents as well as C-level executives.
Is there a defined scope for each phase of the implementation?
While every implementation will look different, here are some common phases most companies experience:
- Discovery Phase: Discuss your business, its goals, and requirements
- Planning Phase: Determine program strategy, needed technologies, and develop a project plan
- Sync Phase: Sync to a CRM system (if applicable), load data, and confirm data integrity
- Build Phase: Build marketing assets and marketing/operational programs
- Test Phase: Test programs and data
- Go-Live: Launch data management and pilot marketing programs
The important thing is to make sure the scope matches your organization’s overarching marketing strategy and goals. Don’t start rolling out social, for instance, just because you can—ask yourself if it is part of the greater plan.
Based on your scope, set goals at 3-month intervals–for at least the first year–so you can stay focused on the present while keeping an eye on the future. Finally, plan on an iterative enhancement lifecycle, similar to a systems development lifecycle, which is a method for planning, creating, testing, and deploying software. This will help you prepare for when you are ready to use additional features–whether they’re purchased or those that become available in the platform’s regular release cadence.
Within this lifecycle, include additional internal programs or feature requests. These might include requests to build sophisticated engagement campaigns or deploy features like web personalization, mobile, or social that will inevitably come up during an implementation as more people learn all that your marketing platform can do. Knowing upfront that you’ve entered a marathon, not a sprint, may keep people more focused and patient during this key time of your implementation.
Are you in charge of your organization’s marketing platform implementation? What other tips would you recommend? I’d love to hear in the comments below.