When the going gets tough in any relationship, it can be natural to want to give up and just move on. But if you’re having issues with your marketing automation platform (MAP), throwing in the towel and switching to a new solution may not be the best idea.
We’ve talked before about the questions you should ask yourself before purchasing a MAP, but what if you did your due diligence when you decided to commit, but now aren’t seeing the ROI you expected? Or maybe you’ve had key staff changes or budget constraints that make you suspect your MAP may not be the best for your organization anymore? Or now that your organization has grown, the system that met your needs so well when you were smaller seems to be falling short? How can you decide whether the relationship is worth saving?
Moving from one marketing automation platform to another requires a significant outlay of time and resources, so before you end a relationship with a key piece of your marketing technology, it’s best to first get to the heart of where things have gotten off track. A little investment to save the relationship may end up saving your organization a lot of money over time.
Identifying the Issues: What are we fighting about?
The best way to start is to revisit, or create, business requirements documentation. There are many ways to make a business requirements document, but here’s our favorite: designate a lead or leads for this project, then go out and collect user stories.
User stories are a concept borrowed from Agile software development, and are simply short sentences that describe the needs of each team from an end-user point of view. A typical sales user story for a MAP might be something like “I’m a business development representative, and I need to know how to prioritize my leads and then be able to call only those leads that look like they’re a good fit for our solutions.” That’s all a user story needs to be, just the requirements. A more advanced example from a field marketer’s perspective might be, “I need to have an automated way to capture leads coming through our webinar platform.”
From there, your project team should look at the user stories and try to map them to features of a marketing automation platform. You should end up with a few broad buckets for your user stories: things my MAP does, things it could do if we made some changes, things it can’t do. For now, focus on the things it can’t do. These are your system gaps.
Is this relationship worth saving?
Now that you know where your system has gaps, it’s time to prioritize them.
For example, if your field team is generating most of their leads from the 10 webinars they run each month, and there is no automated connection between your MAP and your chosen webinar platform, that’s probably a very high priority gap. You can even try to assign hours and cost to a gap, for example: How much does the manual work to connect those two systems cost in hours spent? Can that be translated into a dollar amount that represents the lost productivity or the lost revenue associated with not being able to complete certain marketing activities? Assigning a dollar value to the time you’re spending on each of your highest priority system gaps can help you determine if rolling out a new system is truly worth it.
Stay together, or separate?
Now that you have a better idea of where your system gaps are and—potentially—how much they are costing you, it may be clear whether or not your MAP is worth keeping, or it may still be a little murky.
If it’s not yet clear, consider this: You may have a good idea of how much your system gaps are costing you, and you may know how much your MAP is costing you, but what about the cost of a new rollout? Yes, there are the implementation fees associated with any new software, but there’s also all of the work your staff has to complete before, during and after a new MAP rollout. When you’re assessing the cost-benefit of moving to a new system, don’t forget to consider this cost as well.
Once you’ve done the legwork above, you can make a decision about whether or not it’s best to fix the relationship, or go your separate ways.