You saw the demo, C-suite approved the budget, and you’re ready to go full-steam on a new marketing automation implementation. You want to make sure it goes smoothly, the team adopts the new platform, and you can begin to see return-on-investment (ROI) as quickly as possible. You need a plan! Implementing any new technology, especially a marketing automation platform (MAP) like Pardot (MCAE), that touches multiple core departments of a business takes careful planning, integration, and onboarding. Following an implementation plan that involves key stakeholders from sales, marketing, revenue operations, c-suite, and end-users will set you up for success to scale with the organization-wide growth, meet and exceed key performance indicators (KPIs), and ensure good adoption metrics to realize long-term ROI.
6 Key Considerations for a Successful Marketing Automation Implementation
1. Hire a consultant or partner
First and foremost, having trained and knowledgeable support to lead your MAP implementation is a must.
Does your in-house staff really have the experience and certifications to successfully lead this implementation? If so, do they have time outside their normal job duties to complete this efficiently and effectively? If not, you should look at the financial cost and benefit of hiring a consultant or partner as an extension of your team to support the implementation and post-go-live support. Hiring an implementation partner or a partner with fractional admin services offerings to run your MAP and/or CRM allows the rest of your team can focus on their lanes.
Here are some things to consider when hiring a Salesforce or Pardot partner.
2. Make a plan with marketing, sales, and IT
Start by defining the requirements and success metrics from your sales, marketing, IT, and Salesforce teams. Also, determine who will be the key stakeholders throughout the implementation.
IT-wise, consider domain configuration for emails, IP configuration (SPF & DKIM records), website tracking pixels, and access to Salesforce – who is responsible for each and how will it be accomplished? Consider your current tech stack and any integrations that will be a part of the project, and of course, who will be responsible for each.
Marketing planning and strategy are important when implementing a MAP. If you don’t have it already, map your lead generation and nurture processes from sales, to marketing, to customer success (etc.) teams. This is the time to work with sales to define or revisit ideal customer personas (ICPs), marketing qualified leads (MQL), and Sales Qualified Leads (SQL). Consider your martech stack and what can be replaced by or integrated with your MAP. Finally, determine marketing success metrics and types of reports you want to see in your MAP and/or CRM.
While gathering requirements from the manager levels of each of these departments, it is equally important to gather requirements from end-users to assist with the adoption and usability of the new system. Consider who will be responsible for the MAP administration beyond implementation.
3. Address your data
If you have an existing MAP, make note of the cut-off date. Data will likely need to be migrated from one platform to another. Note that activity history is especially difficult to transfer, and you might lose much of that. You should give yourself at least several months to transition smoothly.
Data hygiene is no one’s favorite task. But before you dump dirty data into your new, pristine MAP, this is the time to clean up your CRM. If you have duplicates, address them now. You can use a tool like No Duplicates to clean up your Salesforce environment.
If your process intentionally creates duplicate records, it’s time to take a good hard look at why. Suppose you are using Salesforce and Pardot especially. In that case, there is no need to create duplicate lead and contact records for new form completes/MQLs, and creating duplicates will mess with your reporting – more on this in another blog.
4. Prioritize Change Management
A new MAP is a waste if the team doesn’t use it. Change management is key. Your internal and external communication plan to roll out a new MAP is valuable here. You can also increase adoption by bringing users into the decision-making of the implementation process – if you are building it for them to use, allow them to weigh in on how they want to use it.
Think about the adoption metrics you will use to understand implementation success. By setting metrics and consistently monitoring them, you can look for opportunities to optimize success and continue to build a better platform. Part of your “metrics” can include feedback from users, too.
5. Maintain Decision Logs and Documentation
Throughout an implementation, many key players participate in the implementation decisions and process changes that affect the ending configuration.
For issue resolution in the future, knowing why or how a decision was made as part of this roll-out may be helpful, which is where decision logs or project plan notes by task would be helpful. Documentation is a collaborative effort between your team and your consultant or partner, should you choose one to support you.
You should create a knowledge base/repository of this information and share it with key organizational stakeholders.
6. Think Go-live and Beyond
End-users need to be thoughtfully trained on a new MAP. Training conducted in the context of your business and marketing strategy is the most successful. The best practice is to hold in-house training from a train-the-trainer scenario where your consultant or partner trains the project team and then the team trains the rest of the organization.
Do you have resources from current staff that can and will own and maintain this new technology? If not, you should do a financial analysis on the costs of resourcing, hiring, and employing new staff versus partnering with your consultant or partner for fractional/managed services for ongoing support.
Having a system in place to report on key metrics will help you optimize success over the long run. Some KPIs we typically recommend include Annual Contract Value (ACV), Marketing Campaign Influence on Revenue, Pipeline Velocity, Opportunities Won by ICP, and Marketing Asset Performance. It’s also important to evaluate the user adoption rate to understand if your staff is using this investment you just made. If not, have mechanisms to help collect feedback and identify potential problems.
Any new technology, especially a MAP like Pardot (MCAE), requires collaboration between cross-functional stakeholders. It is a continuous process, and to ensure adoption and peak ROI, a marketing automation implementation should be well-planned by clearly defining requirements and metrics for success. In our experience, the most successful implementations start with a plan. They include the right stakeholder involvement in the project, a focus on data hygiene, considerations for change management, plans for post-go-live adoption, and a knowledgeable partner to provide best practices and implementation support.