Email management software. Social monitoring tools. Content management systems. Customer relationship management software. Website analytics tracking platforms. Project management software. Social media scheduling tools. . . The list goes on and on.
In the world of B2B marketing, there are many tools and platforms marketers leverage on a daily basis. These tools include everything from social listening tools to email marketing systems to analytics tracking tools.
The one thing in common is they all roll up to a broader category of “marketing platforms,” aka tools or software to help marketers get in front of the right audience with the right message at the right time to provide an ideal buying experience. Many of these platforms are critical, so changing one in the marketing tech stack can be daunting.
To make the process of changing B2B marketing platforms easier, we’ve put together a list of 7 things you must do BEFORE changing platforms.
Before Changing Marketing Platforms You Must:
1. Evaluate What Your Current Platform Is Used For
Whether you are canceling or replacing an existing platform, it’s crucial to determine what it’s currently be used for and who is using it. Be sure to ask around, even other departments if needed, to see who is using the platform and how they are using it.
Understanding the current value to the business is essential to ensure if you replace it, you find a platform that serves a similar or better value.
2. Determine What Your Platform Doesn’t Do That You Need
It’s clear that you’ve determined your existing marketing platform or tool isn’t providing the value needed to keep it around. Before you go out and swap out to the newest or trendiest platform, define what you want the new platform to do or provide.
We suggest making a list and prioritizing it. This list should include must-haves and nice-to-have functionalities. Again, ask around your company – including your existing teams and the departments you work closely with. Some B2B marketers call this a wish list or a requirements document.
3. Look at Your Integrations/Connections
In today’s current marketing tech stack, integration is the name of the game. With so many platforms and tools, the more they integrate with each other for automation purposes, the better. Before you bring on or retire an existing marketing platform, it’s important to understand any integration or connection capabilities. Ask questions like, “will any older data carry over?” and “will this new platform connect more seamlessly with other tools” and most importantly, “what will the integrations cost in terms of time and money?”
Read more: Top B2B marketing best practices.
4. Understand Your Budget & Resources
With all the tools out there, there is often a broad range of capabilities each tool offers. When deciding on your tool, it’s recommended to have an idea of the budget you have available for the tool itself and the resources to manage the tool, if needed. The more complex tools, like Salesforce and HubSpot, offer a lot of functionalities/capabilities but do require a person on your team who is highly skilled or trained in that platform.
Read more: How to create a lead gen strategy.
5. Look at the Ramp Down/Ramp Up Timelines
While some platforms have little to no ramp-up time and are considered “plug and play,” others do have a ramp-up time. Before you take on a new marketing platform find out if you need an expert or consultant/training to get the new system going and what the timeline is like to get it going.
We also recommend understanding what it takes to untangle your company from a particular platform. For example, if it’s a CRM, do you need to export all the data and then import it to another platform? If it’s an analytics platform, will you have any crossover of time so you can ensure tracking is working properly and will enable you access to data after the fact?
6. Do Your Research
This is often the fun step, where you get to explore what’s out there. Set aside time to do real research. Take demos. Look at reviews to see what users are saying. Talk to anyone using the platform (or ask the salesperson for a referral to an existing client). Talk to your B2B marketing agency (they have worked on many platforms and will speak candidly about a range of platforms).
Ideally, you will look at between 4 – 5 solutions for the marketing platform you are looking to change or transition to. If you end up looking at more than that, you may not have a clear enough list of what you do and don’t need.
7. Make a Plan for the Transition
The last step before making the change is planning to make the change. Simply canceling one platform and signing up for another can have disastrous consequences. Having a plan is the only way to successfully change a B2B marketing platform. When creating your plan, build in time for overlap between your existing platform and your new platform. Put a retirement plan in place for any platforms that are legacy, including a date for the retirement, and be sure to communicate this internally. If needed, build a transition plan that includes bringing in a consultant or your B2B marketing agency to help with the transition.