Posts Tagged ‘marketing’

First written early in 2017, re-discovered in drafts.

Photo by Arvind Thangli on Unsplash

Process: Facebook Advertising is a wonderful rabbit hole. I’ve done Facebook Ads in the past. It’s easy to get carried away by all the targeting options like, custom audiences, interests, demographics, placements, bid types, ad types etc.

But it’s important to focus within your resources, both people and budgets. Sure you can make gorgeous canvas ads to create an immersive experience with embedded videos and what not. But is the complexity and overhead worth it? Sure you can create Facebook Ad funnels with a blog post for the first group, use the Facebook Pixel to re-target those who read the blog with a gated offer and then re-target those with a free trial or demo. But it’s a factor of much money are you willing to spend, how often do you want to actively monitor campaigns, ad sets and ads and tweak and keep an eye on things. Yes you can setup automated rules within Power Editor now to take some of that headache off you but does if you are only spending $500 per campaign, with 5 campaigns and 2 ad-sets and 4 creatives, is it not easier to simplify the process?

Experimentation and process is an important part of learning, but only after you’ve reached the local maximum in your current setup. In my case, doing Adwords, Adroll, GDN, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook meant that my rather limited ad spend was getting chopped up across these channels and not really getting its full potential. For any meaningful learning to happen, you need to have enough data points to look at.

Spending $100 on Adroll and reaching 50 people but not seeing early results didn’t mean it wouldn’t work. It just mean I hadn’t figured out what would work.

Learning in most experiments is a function of sample size. For example, if you only get 100 people to your landing page that you have 2 variations of, and variation B is shown to 50 people and 5 of them signup for your product, does that mean the same will hold true when 5,0000 people land on that page? Most likely not. And how long does it to get 5,0000 eye balls on a page? Months? Is it worth testing something over a period of 8 months when you only expect to see a 2% increase in signups? Does it have a significant impact on your business? I won’t get into the math of the statistics behind it, but something to think about.

The same held true for my ad spend. If I am spreading my budget across every available channel, with LinkedIn being the most expensive & only getting a handful of people to click on the ads. Is that a learning? Or just a waste? On top of that, within each ad network, there’s at-least a dozen things you can change like ad creative to attribution windows to bids to targeting.


Learning comes from structured process and smart decisions to focus vs trying 20 different things but not really trying them well.

4 years ago, I wouldn’t have said process. I probably would have been that person who spent $100 on each available ad network including Snapchat, partially out of curiosity without asking if my audience uses Snapchat.

Process helps you answer questions like what you are trying to do and how will you do it? How will you document results so 6 months from now, you can reference them instead of repeating the same mistakes?

How I’ve started doing it: writing everything down in a Google Doc.

Before I start a new advertising campaign, I take sometime to create a document outlining my assumptions, strategy (driving new audience or trying to reach an existing one) which defines the audience (interests + behaviour + web) & ad creatives.

After the campaign is over (I structure them by months for ease of budgeting) I export the results into excel and see if there’s any correlation or patterns that I can repeat.

An example is that in March, I noticed that most of the conversions from Facebook Ads came via Desktop and Apple Devices:

Conversions by Device (exported from Facebook Ads for CrowdRiff)

So in the next campaign , I created Ad Groups targeted by device:

  • Desktop
  • iPhone
  • All Devices

With the same audiences across ad groups to test the assumption. Since my previous campaign strategy & results are documented, I can always go back and see what I did and compare.

December 2017 update: The device targeting didn’t result in a significant change in results.

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Agencies: It was after dinner when I got the call from alawyer from the west coast specializing in real estate & family law. Looking to dive into marketing to drive new business, a mutual friend had introduced us earlier.

He shared his experience with a local agency that promised to increase his search rankings but after 6–8 months, without any solid results, he decided to part ways.

With another agency proposal in hand, he was looking for an extra pair of eyes for a sanity check.

As I looked the proposal he sent over from a full service agency, it sounded needlessly complex for a small law firm. The agency had line items for content calendar, social media marketing, Adwords (setup and ongoing) and even press releases.

My first instinct was to look at Google Analytics and the % traffic via social media & what % of visits came through the blog and general content spot check. The numbers of referrals from social in GA didn’t justify the $$ on social media setup & and on-going $ for social media marketing (posting?). All social channels combined were bringing in less then 2% of the traffic, which could have been bots since the bounce rate was high. The blog; a mix of client stories for the most part, did not have a strong organic reach.

We didn’t get into each line item, but I told him that in my view, the proposal he got was trying to do too much. It was a local law firm that only worked with local clients, folks don’t tend to follow lawyers on Twitter, unless they have a super witty social team (Wendys anyone).

My two cents were to stop putting up client stories on the blog they belong as testimonials on the site, instead focus on search keywords and intent and break it into two buckets:

  • Brand Affinity: focus on keywords that are informational — How do find a good real estate lawyer, example of house transfer contract etc, what happens during divorce or separate etc. Search queries where someone isn’t looking to hire someone right away but looking for more information.
  • Buying Intent: Good lawyers near me, real estate lawyer <city name> etc. This is also a direct conversion (have Ad extensions setup) but also if you did the brand affinity strategy, your customer is already familiar with your name so they’re more likely to click/convert on your ad.

The second suggestion I had was to perhaps hold some offline workshops or free office hours and put up some subway ads in the city. Press releases and scheduling posts in buffer would hardly move the needle for him.

Thought’s comments questions? Let me know on Twitter.

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Going to Pakistan next week so brushing up my Pashto (Hey Dad, Mom, Gol and Aimal can’t wait to see you again 🙂 )

It’s been a busy couple of weeks, or months. I don’t remember when was the last time I sent this out, but it’s been a while. I won’t get into the details, most of you already know my personal/work life and since this gets republished on Medium and LinkedIn at some point, I don’t want to make it public.

I am looking for help with editing an ABM post I wrote. Interested? Let me know. I sent it to the editors at Inbound.org and they are interested but it needs some work.

Which brings me to the next thought, most of you know I am a big reader and between my new subscription (paper in the mailbox) for New Yorker and Medium I read quite a bit. This morning there was a interesting tweet(storm) by a senior executive at Hubspot about content that I embedded below and hopefully works in Gmail. Now Hubspot is a company built on the whole concept of ‘content’. But Peter Caputa (VP Sales) at Hubspot made the case of storytelling and bloggers being more like writers and writing ‘in-depth’ essays. I on the other hand think that is a luxury only companies of a certain size can afford. Think about marketing on a spectrum of revenue and there’s an end of demand generation where the focus is on revenue, direct response and leads and the other end is brand marketing (stable revenue stage). My disagreement was two fold:

1) a company like Hubspot can afford to run an editorial operation completely divorced from the Demand Generation operations, as can Zendesk. 
2) A company below certain ARR /<insert a local startup or SMB> here needs to keep it’s content focused on direct response. That means focusing on keywords, writing about things that come up in sales calls that SDR’s/BDR’s can use when they’re making calls or marketing can use in campaigns. It has to ultimately help generate revenue in some way. 
3) A company that has a great editorial operation like Mattermark comes to mind, but I am not a customer and I read the analysis by @alex and the newsletter curated by @nick and it’s unlikely I will be a customer. Companies like Buffer who write about transparency and operations also heavily write about social media marketing and ‘direct response’ writing.

Preliminary thoughts. No conclusions reached yet but wanted to put it in writing.

Here are the embedded tweets I mentioned. Goodnight!

Yes to this entire rant/tweetstorm 🙌 https://t.co/gImXWO6Xgt

— Janessa Lantz (@janessalantz) December 14, 2016

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Photo Credit: https://images.unsplash.com/photo-1468309218808-b673d545d957?ixlib=rb-0.3.5&q=80&fm=jpg&crop=entropy&cs=tinysrgb&s=7f613564f8e45eb116209f29ed92b808

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Edition 9: Demand Generation Funnel

Hey friends and family,

I’ve read a series of articles on Medium about lead scoring, Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL) & Product Qualified Lead (PQL).

My head is buzzing so I will try to keep this coherent.

First of all, this article talks about building a predictive lead scoring model. It’s quite the buzz these days in B2B Marketing circles, with different vendors with hefty price tags and ominous black boxes selling their wares. However let’s break it down; B2B technology vendors are notorious for vague copy on their website, without actually explaining what or how they do it. I guess that helps them fuel the ‘demo request’ forms.

Traditional lead scoring is based on 2 dimensions:
– Straight up things like job title, company size (a proxy for revenue which means ‘disposable money to spend on technologies’) and mostly country and other such things.
– Behaviour, which means if they’ve actually been to your website/blog a couple of times and read or downloaded some eBooks and such.

Note: Remember to have negative scoring for things like email bounced, blank title, unsubscribed from marketing emails and such. Otherwise you’re lead score will, in theory, trend towards infinity.

Where lead scoring falls short? A couple of things, the world isn’t perfect and data isn’t clean. Someone might self identify as a VP of Marketing but in reality they might be a Marketing Manager. It’s all user generated anyway. Secondly if you use a third party data service to augment your lead records, you have a single point of failure. If the third party returns null or wrong data, your whole model is thrown off. 

So what is predictive lead scoring? It’s the idea (data science anyone?) that you look at a sample size of all the customers you got and look for similarities. If you have a large enough sample size and enough data points, there might be some commonalities like certain industries, behaviours (attended your webinar twice around ‘Lead Management for High Performing Marketing Teams’), spent 3 minutes look around your pricing page, had job titles within a certain area or other overlaps. These themes give you data points on what your ideal customer profile looks like and instead of having a linear lead scoring model, you have a weighted one. After all, not all behaviours are created equal, some are more equal then others. The challenge of-course that the process from visit to customer isn’t linear or simple. But a large enough sample size offers insights.
Should you then drop a hefty sum on a predictive lead scoring tool? Nope – Hubspot already offers it in built into their tool and you can build one yourself using excel by using regression analysis. What is regression analysis is a project for me for next week.

The second article talked about how traditional excel sales/revenue growth models often are based on historical funnel conversion rates which leads to total lead/MQL target madness. Yes, I’ve been there. But historical conversion rates aren’t predictive of the future, they’re an opportunity of improvement. If you MQL targets or lead targets are 8000 a month, then there’s definitely something leaky in your funnel and it’s better to fix that. What is the bottle neck? is it the Sales Qualified stage? Is that because of head count? Or is there a broken process? For example your funnel looks like this:

Lead -> MQL = 90%
MQL -> SAL = 40%
SAL -> SQL = 8%
SQL -> Opp = 50%
Opp -> Customer = 60%

It’s clear that there’s a 8% conversion rate that is causing the MQL/Lead number to inflate beyond control. What is causing that? What can be improved? If only 8% of the leads are being qualified by sales, what is happening to the rest of the 92%? Are they thrown out and replaces by new MQLs? Why not recycle them? Or is it simply that the MQL’s are not true MQL’s and hence not replying or engaging with sales? Can the channels/messaging and positioning be shuffled to better explain what the product does for whom so those who do fill out a form actually know what they’re getting into? One too many B2B SaaS products have vague ambiguous copy on their website, but interesting blog/ebooks that someone will download with no intention of buying the product or rather no idea what the product does. 

Process is essential but hard to get right but essential to the demand generation funnel. Hard to get right because there’s two ‘departments’ on a constant head butt with each other: sales & marketing. Traditionally, marketing is responsible for Leads -> MQL and Sales is SQL -> Customer. But both have varying incentives in places. I am all for SDR/BDR teams being under the Demand Generation/Marketing teams, to help simplify the process changes and align goals. 

Last thing: Product Qualified leads. This is a concept on freemium products, where a user has a free trial or free version and hits a ‘wall’. The wall can be a premium feature leading to a landing page or hitting the max quota on their plan or something of the sort. However I find this only works in the case of freemium products, if your product has no entry point to a account and usage, this model would not work.

Here are all the links:
Stop the Lead Scoring Madness.
Lead Scoring Models [Slide Share]
Product Qualified Lead
Before You Widen The Top of the Funnel

Before I go, here’s a fantastic read by Erin from Fortune on Cruise Automation that sold to GM Motors for a a mind boggling amount of money and how GM and Cruise is keeping things alive.

It’s been a while. I hope you’ve all been well. 


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I came across Tara Hunt’s new video over on LinkedIn via Amrita. Tara talks about the misconception of marketing as something that follows everything else. It’s a symptom of the ‘engineering’ driven company mindset where it’s overly focused on the technology but not really keeping a line of sight on who the technology is for. For example Uber thinks of itself as an operational/logistics company which uses technology to scale. The same argument can be made for 80% of companies that label themselves as tech.

Marketing is the process of bringing a product to market.

If a company says ‘we achieved 100% YoY growth without a single dollar spent on marketing’ my next question is great — how did people actually hear about you if you didn’t do any marketing? You probably did but you don’t realize it and also don’t confuse advertising on the web with marketing.

Are Casper, Endy and a dozen other mattress companies tech companies or mattress companies? They argue they are tech companies. Maybe because it makes it easy to get funding from venture capitalists, who would want to put money into a mattress company? I’d call them ‘Internet Enabled’ businesses. A mattress is a mattress. The differentiation from where I stand is the branding. That’s why the Canadian company Endy (I first called it Eva that is how saturated and similar the name’s are) has bought entire Toronto Subway ads for itself and Casper has sleep pop up shops around the city.


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Photo-credit: Deviant Art: http://www.deviantart.com/art/Untitled-634298413


Just before I started writing this, I was in a call with Meta Data.They’re a B2B ad/marketing tool with a hybrid agency model. There’s a platform but they also offer creative services to design and manage the ads. It’s an interesting model, that I’ve come across recently. It reminds me of the concierge service that I started for Organimi to build company org charts in Organimi in the 2nd year of the company’s existence. Do more companies adapt it to increase the LTV of their customers or is it because ultimately something can’t be done by machines? In the case of Meta Data, they have a platform fee for accessing the product and additional creative services and management fee (optional from what I can tell).

Closer to Toronto, Betakit ran story on Vantage that pivoted to a similar(?) model with a added a similar component from the sounds of it.

So this is an interesting one. China is the Bitcoin super power. Imagine trekking the mountains of Tibet and thinking your away from civilization and you hear the familiar sound of a electronic hum. The cheap power and relatively cheap labour makes it a mecca for Bitcoin mining. I don’t think Bitcoin itself is going to be a normalized currency for the next 10–20 years atleast, not until everyone agree’s on its value. I can buy coffee with Bitcoin, sure but if I want to pay rent, my landlord will raise an eyebrow and kick me out.
“These are concerns that have parallels with the way China is using its digital market power to reshape the Internet and influence the global debate about censorship and surveillance.”
Why are we so paranoid about China? They already run the half the world if not more. Read the Post essay here.

I am a huge fan of Rand & Sarah (Moz) and in light of the recent layoffs, they’ve faced some serious heat. But Rand in in signature tell all style wrote about the layoffs from his perspective and its a great read on the hard choices you make to run a business. There’s been layoffs in Canadian Tech recently but they’ve been pretty hush hush. Especially recent ones in Toronto. People will find out and its better to get ahead of it and explain. I was tempted to use ‘control the narrative’ here but that sounds like Theranos a little too much. Moz had to make a tough choice but it was the right choice. Ultimately you have to operate a business and if they did not make the layoffs, it would have run the business to the ground. The folks who were let go supported each other and even made a site Hiremoz to make it easy for companies looking for talent to hire them.

For the marketers reading this, here’s Drift putting out all the emails they use. This partially marketing, partially transparency but definitely helpful.

I haven’t been on Quora on a while. I always wonder about where that company is headed. They have a incredible community but sometimes there’s formulaic answers to questions which are optimized for up-votes. Perhaps that’s me being skeptical. At some point they will have to monetize it, will they use ML or some sort of technology to serve ads related to people’s queries? I’ve ‘exploited’ it for traffic and signups in the past and it worked well. We’re all guilty of finding loopholes.

Facebook Video’s are weird. They auto-play so it counts as a view but I rarely watch them. Now Facebook is saying they made mistakes measuring views vs ad spends for brands. Growing pains of video on social and how to get ad dollars from TV on to the internet.

What is this and how is this different from Airbnb? It’s called Sonder and it also works in the same home-sharing model as Airbnb. I poked around the site, which looks alot like Airbnb. But design-wise, it works. So why re-make something that isn’t broke.. I know Flatbook, but from my impressions Flatbook is niche sub-lets market from what I can tell.

Edit — Flatbook re-directs to Sonders so they re-branded and pivoted? Google still indexes them as Flatbook

It’s friday. Have a great weekend!


P.S Excuse any typos. This was written at 5pm on a Friday.

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Cognitive Bias Codex — Buster Benson. Buy it here: https://www.designhacks.co/products/cognitive-bias-codex-poster

Hey/ Salaam there,

9 subscribers, including my wife (hey Soph), dad (hey Dad), Siblings ( Boogie: Gul, Aimal)

Before anything — Trump has been getting more media coverage then he deserves. I wish we’d just ignored him and let him wither in the darkness. But we didn’t. So now Josh Whedon has gotten together a ‘sh&t ton of famous people’ because it’s that important.

I have never been to EW but this video was spectacular and touching. Watch it here.

While we’re on the topic of politics. Respect to Reid Hoffman for launching Trump cards. My eyes went a little wide open when the post mentioned ‘People who work for him personally’. I wonder how much Reid makes to pay his personal staff from his own pocket. ALOT.

Continuing the thread, why don’t more business leaders speak up against Trump? Fear according to NYT & Hoffman.

Found this from a friend who shared it on Twitter (thanks Cori) — Cognitive Bias Cheat Sheet. If there’s one thing you click out of this email, this should probably be the one.

Airbnb: I got a call from them yesterday, asking why I am not hosting with them anymore. I explained I was renovating the house so I snoozed it. But I was surprised at the relatively ‘old school’ tactic. This was the first time I got a call from Airbnb but it was an interesting call. Might be signs of something changing. Might not be anything. Speaking of Airbnb, I loved how they tied Superhosting and a ‘Market place’ for hosts to manage other properties. I bet the crop of ‘Airbnb Management’ companies will be given a run for their money. Glad I did not get into the space, even though I played around with the idea and did some research.

Spotify and Tinder are best friends now. It just isn’t about dating, it’s about owning pop culture. Spotify hasn’t been having the best of times, but it’s aggressive partnerships strategy might help it bump its paid subscribers number ahead of an IPO perhaps? I got Spotify premium bundled in with my carrier plan so I didn’t blink an eye. Otherwise I would have questioned splurging $10 a month on it.

If you are in Marketing, you know about Lead Nurturing. Here’s a 36 Minute Read on Lead Nurturing. It’s long but I love the illustrations. I think Intercom and Dropbox & Stratechery made them popular and with the iPad Pro anyone can sketch on a screen. My take away on lead nurturing, don’t over-do or over-complicate it. It reaches a point of diminishing returns pretty quickly. Either someone will buy your product or they wont. Bombarding them with emails; educational or otherwise won’t change their minds or create FOMO or a need out of thin air.

That’s all for today. Back to my day job now.

P.S Trying to figure out the optimal workflow. I am trying a dedicated notebook in Evernote.

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Yesterday I spent an hour with the marketing team in a meeting room, figuring out the SEO for our site. We had done the leg work and audited the site, found on-site issues that we could fix but before everything we needed to agree on the keyword hierarchy. What is the ‘top level’ keyword and how do that or those break down into semantic search queries and support those queries with relevant pages on the site. How do those pages come together in a coherent Web UX?

Most of all though, the question is — what is the strategy? To me, not all SEO strategy should strictly be acquisition. In some models acquisition makes sense. We did SEO for Organimi and 3 years later, its still our biggest acquisition channel. But in the case of Uberflip, the goal is more about education. Education is a cliche’d word to use in marketing context but it’s the best way to put it. Education in the context of giving a visitor enough information about the product, market and general content marketing landscape before the BDR even picks up the phone. Why? Because no one will request a demo right after landing on a page nor is it a tool that you can try and buy scenario.

More on that later. Here’s some interesting read related to SEO that I came across.

First Round Capital Review is an amazing read as always. Here they cover SEO on a tactical and strategic level. It’s a great read on how Yummly a food discovery platform leverage SEO on a massive scale. If you’ve already read the basics on MOZ, this is a good additional resource.Most of all, SEO takes time to build and should be done right. There are tools that’ll push 1,000’s of pages for SEO reasons but they’ll get penalised and it’ll take months if not longer to get back to the good graces of SERP rankings. Key point. SEO is never a 100% but the more you do it, the better you get. Also we all steal other companies ideas. Study those who do SEO well. Think TripAdvisor and Yelp; though they have a ton of user generated content to help with their rankings.

I discovered this through Twitter. Give marketers funnels and they’ll spend hours obsessing over it. Here’s an SEO Funnel from STAT an enterprise SEO Analytics tool.

As an Airbnb host and user, I am always all ears for Airbnb news. They’ve changed the landscape of travel but also raise questions about affordable housing and sketchy landlords kicking out tenants to rent entire units out. Even though France’s tourism has been hit hard because of the bombings, Airbnb is reporting great occupancy while traditional hotels are struggling. Short read from Skift.

Till next time.

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As with any system, there’s learning curves and pleasant surprises. Some come after a while of head banging against table, while others present themselves more gracefully.

After moving to Marketo and getting the basics up and running we ran into some challenges.

In an effort to optimize the spend of our demand generation programs, we needed to ensure that we weren’t duplicating leads from Accounts & Customers that were already won or at 90% in the Opp stage. There’s a case to be made for expanding current accounts but for now we wanted to ensure we’re not wasting our money getting more leads from accounts that are customers.

To create a ‘check’ against leads from existing accounts & customers, first step is to create a suppression list of domains. Easy enough in Marketo — create a smart list of all current customers or ‘Opps’ that have been won and download it as an excel file. Use a formula like” =RIGHT(email,LEN(email)-FIND(“@”,email)) to get the domains from a list of emails.

Now you have a domain suppression list.

Now for the fun part. Within Marketo, you can’t directly set up a script that says:

‘Anytime a new lead is created in the system, check against these domains to see if it already exists and then flag it’

But you can create something that does that using Programs & Smart campaigns:

  1. Create a Smart Campaign. Call it ‘existing opp/customer check’
  2. Add a trigger ‘Person Created’ so it fires everytime a new person is created. This is important otherwise you’ll have to set it on a recurring schedule. Marketo smart campaigns need a trigger to fire automagically.
  3. Create a condition based on how you upload/add leads to your Marketo instance. In our case, we add them to Channel Master Lists. So the condition is ‘If person was added to list within the last 30 days’.

This is the bit where you check against domains.

Note: Since within Marketo you can check with ‘contains’ you should concatenate ‘@’ before the domains. Otherwise if by random chance someone’s name is the same as a domain name on your list, it would flag those as well.

In the flow step:

  1. Add ‘Add to List’
  2. Create a condition within ‘Add to List”
  3. If ‘email address’ contains (copy paste list of domains with @ appended before them)
  4. Create a local program list and set the flow step to add them to the list.

Here’s what happens. If a person is created in Marketo, it will fire the smart campaign to check if the email address contains the @domain from your suppression list. If yes, they get routed to the list.

Questions? kamil[dot]rextin[at]gmail[dot]com

Written in collaboration with Sibil Samuel and Tara Robertson.

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Originally Published on Inbound.org as an Inbound Original.

A couple of months ago the marketing team at Uberflip started kicking around the idea of switching from HubSpot to another more robust system. As we grew our marketing and demand generation campaigns, we needed a more customizable tool that had a deeper integration with Salesforce and would scale well, both operationally and financially.

HubSpot was a great tool to start building our processes for campaigns with, but as we got more complex, we hit certain limitations. The lack of customization options and no Salesforce integration started to hinder our efforts. For example, we couldn’t create our own Lifecycle stages to reflect the realities of our marketing funnel.

When we started the quest to migrate to a different platform, it came down to Marketo and Pardot. The platforms are very similar, each with their own specific quirks and areas where they excel. Ultimately, the winner was Marketo (despite the Pardot sales team making many house calls at the office).

Migrating systems of any kind is a monster project. I’ll share some experiences and process below in case anyone going through their own migration finds it helpful. For context, our team is four people, we have a current contact DB size of 90,000+, and a large number of creative and operational items.

Please note: This is the migration from our internal marketing perspective and there were no changes to our Uberflip Platform integrations with major Marketing Automation platforms.

The Migration Process

Typical MA (Marketing Automation) migrations take at least a month or two months if not more. We had just under a month to flip the switch (yes, the Uberflip has a Podcast of the same name — we like to stay on brand).

We recruited Perkuto (a Marketo agency) to help us manage the project and minimize team disruption, since our team still had our regular demand generation programs to run. With a project of this scale, we had to ensure the business and operations kept running while we slowly switched things over on the back end

We kicked off the migration with Perkuto by having Justin Norris (their Solutions Architect) spend a day with us. We walked him through the operational workflows we had in HubSpot, scoring models, landing page templates, email templates, hand-off processes, data schema, sales processes, and general business roles in Salesforce and HubSpot.

Choosing an MVP Migration Route

Usually migrations of this scale take a few months to complete, yet our HubSpot license was expiring so our timeframe was truncated. To help make it so we didn’t have to work on the migration 24 hours a day, we decided on an MVP migration scope.

MVP in this scenario stands for minimum viable project. We had to figure out what would be the bare minimum for us to migrate over so that things would still function normally and we could hit our deadline. We ended up migrating our database, campaign templates, and operational workflows over first and then later built it to be more robust after the basic elements were done.

If we had more time, we would build out our full funnel nurtures, more templates, in-depth scoring models, tested the Bizible/Marketo integration, and operational workflows for campaigns.


  • Doing the work up front to inventory everything, as painful as it is, will make for smooth sailing but don’t spend too much time buried in documentation.

A great upside to a migration is that you can get rid of all the legacy ‘junk’ that collects over time and start fresh. The downside is that the amount of moving parts can be overwhelming.

Based on our discussions, Justin put together a Technical Design Document (TDD) that served as the bible for the migration. The TDD acted as more of a formal project management document, so for keeping track, taking inventory, and marking off to-dos, we used a Migration Workbook (shown below).


  • Involve your Demand Generation team or anyone else who spends their day in your Marketing Automation system, but don’t have too many cooks in the kitchen. Otherwise, there will be a ‘paralysis-by-analysis’ type situation. In our case, we included our four-person demand team, and between each of us, we broke down what we were going to do and trusted each other to get the job done.

Syncing Salesforce

Our system of record is Salesforce, so before tackling any of the operational and campaign items, we needed to connect Salesforce with Marketo for our leads to start syncing.

Sibil (Marketing Ops) and Tara (Inbound Marketing) segmented our 90,000+ contact database into ‘Marketo Sync’ and ‘Discard’. The discard pile was made up of free email addresses (Gmail, Yahoo, etc.), hard-bounced emails, and anyone who has had zero activity within the past year.

These ‘junk’ contacts still existed as a backup in our Salesforce instance, but they would not be migrated to Marketo.

To segment the database, we created a custom checkbox field labeled ‘sync to Marketo’ and using a Smart List to filter, any contacts that were to be migrated were marked as ‘true’ using a HubSpot Workflow. This checkbox was then synced with Salesforce for all ‘true’ contacts.

Since our Salesforce has our entire marketing/sales database, we had a backup of all contacts ever created there. But to keep our shiny new Marketo instance clean, we only synced the contacts that were actually good.


  • There were some issues with setting up the filter in Marketo. It is not a common practice to do this, but it is possible. We had to call Marketo support for this multiple times.


  • We migrated over all the ‘opt-outs’ to Marketo due to CAN-SPAM regulations of having an up-to-date list on our current platform. For those who already had opted in, we did not re-opt-in from Marketo.

Data Schema

In HubSpot, we had years of custom fields, one-off fields, checkboxes, and other assorted items. Important note here — these fields were only in HubSpot and not in Salesforce, so there was no Salesforce backup like we had for other items.

Using the HubSpot-Salesforce integration and field mapping, we first made a list of all the correct mappings between the two systems so we could replicate it. We then sat down as a team and looked at all the Marketing-only fields and debated if they were worth keeping or not.

Some were marked as ‘non MVP’ meaning we would revisit them later. Others that were essential for campaign reporting were recreated in Marketo using the same data types to ensure compatibility.


  • Ensure you’re mapping the field types correctly. Otherwise, the dates will end up as numbers and numbers as text. Especially for dates, having it as a ‘date’ type makes it easier to segment your contacts using date selection tools.

Templates Forms and Templates & CSS:

Tara took lead on landing pages and emails to determine which ones were actually being used and which ones were ‘tests’ or one-offs. This meant going through each asset to determine if it was in use or going to be used and what exactly it was being used for.

We provided the templates within HubSpot plus screenshots and expected editable areas to Perkuto who then recreated those into Marketo. In some cases, you might be able to use the same HTML/CSS between HubSpot and Marketo as long as you remove the system scripting language.

We sometimes had to jump in and do some fine tuning and QA, especially for the forms. Case in point: in Marketo, if you set the form width using the form editor, it will add in-line styling for each field that will overwrite any custom CSS you add.

Best practice for us is to add styling to the parent class in the CSS instead to keep it consistent and easier to edit (as with the image above — don’t add inline styles).

With landing pages, they are non-responsive by default so we had to go in and add an ‘HTML Box’ to the template to include some media queries which was surprising.


  • In Marketo, there is no universal header or footer code section for landing pages. Rather, it is done through a universal token. In HubSpot, it’s relatively easy to add scripts across all HubSpot pages by including them within the universal <head> or </body> section. It seems as though Marketo does not allow for this.
  • If you edit any asset, it will be saved as a draft until you approve it. To see the changes you will need to approve it first.
  • If the asset (like a form that is being used by a landing page) is edited, the landing page will automatically be saved as a draft. So make sure you save the form, approve it, and approve the landing page as well or none of the changes will be live.
  • Marketo form classes are tricky but using something like Firebug will help grab the right selector (but it can make you want to pull your hair out). Pay close attention to checkboxes on forms and their alignment
  • If your value from the dropdown in a form isn’t displaying but still passing into Marketo as a data value, check the padding.
  • Marketo doesn’t support dropdown fields for custom values. As a workaround, you can create the field in Salesforce and then push it to Marketo.

Workflows & Scoring Model

Our operational workflows control the lead management in our Marketing Automation system. The most red-zone item for us was our assignment rules and demo request assignments. Perkuto took lead on these, setting them up and we QA’d five times to make sure leads were flowing through.


  • There’s a small menu to select and/or conditions for triggers.
  • If you’re triggering rules, double check if they’re based on ‘data value change’ or ‘blank’. This caused us some headaches.

Lists of all sorts

Lists. Love them or hate them but they’re the heart of segmentation and automation. We cooped ourselves in a room with some music and started going through Smart and Static Lists to determine which ones we wanted to keep and which ones were dispensable.

For the Static Lists, in some cases it made sense to combine multiple lists into one ‘master list’ for easier list management. In that case, we created a new Smart List that triggered static list memberships and exported those as CSVs for backup and importing back to Marketo.

For the Smart Lists, it was a little more complex. Most of our Smart Lists rely on fields that only existed in HubSpot and not Salesforce. We wanted to keep our SF schema clean. With those fields absent in Marketo, it was impossible to recreate those Smart Lists. To work around this, we created the custom fields as needed per the Smart Lists we wanted to recreate in Marketo. It was a tedious task, but it was essential.

After creating the fields in Marketo and creating the right folder structure, we would export the list from HubSpot with emails plus the custom fields selected and populate those fields back in Marketo. In some cases, we combined multiple Smart Lists into a single Smart List and imported those into Marketo.


  • Marketo will create a lead without an email. Be wary of that.
  • When importing a CSV file, select CSV from the file type in the import menu and don’t rely on the ‘Auto Detect’ default option.

Hub & CTAs and Placements

Another additional step in our migration process was integrating our Uberflip Hub with Marketo.

For the Hub CTAs, we got help from our wonderful content team to replicate each CTA and make a static list in Marketo that it would feed into. After some QA and making sure all the data fields were populating with the correct parameters, we set it aside for a day before launch.


  • We had to make sure we did not add any placements until the ‘go-live’ day otherwise we would have a mashup of HubSpot and Marketo CTAs in the hub.
  • Make sure the right parameters in the CTA are created as a hidden field.

Naming Convention

Marketo is folder based, which means naming convention and structure is very important. We spent some time structuring our marketing campaigns and activities so everything was set up correctly

Having a proper naming convention is a good idea in general, but with Marketo it is crucial to have a consistent naming convention so things are easier to find and work with. In our case, we set it up as the following:

  • Active Marketing Programs:
  • 2016 Marketing
  • Webinars
  • 2016 — DD — Campaign Name
  • Content Syndication
  • CS — 2016 — Asset Name — Channel Name
  • Social
  • Events
  • 2016 — Event Name
  • Evergreen Programs
  • Nurtures
  • 2016 — TOFU — Nurture

General Naming Convention: YY- DD — Asset/Campaign Name — Channel Name

Quality Assurance and Testing

Once everything was uploaded into Marketo, we tested the templates, forms, and workflows for ‘red’ items and set up some ‘Red Zone’ campaigns (like our ABM Hacks series in Marketo).

There were a few bugs we came across on the forms, like the drop-down field having extra padding which meant a user’s selection would not display even though it would get passed into Marketo. Some workflows were set to trigger on data value change, but it did not trigger based on a known value off a blank value.

Another unexpected issue was the DKIM value. Marketo uses ‘m1_key’ which means that we don’t have Marketo authorized to send emails on our behalf.

Our quality assurance was done ad-hoc due to the fact that we had already turned off HubSpot and we were live on Marketo. The team worked hard and fast to make sure nothing important was broken.

Lessons Learned

In retrospect, we should have communicated the switch-over to our subscribers. It seems like something that wouldn’t make a difference to them since it is all done in the back end, but if something went wrong, they would know why. In one case, an email that went out from HubSpot before the switchover had dead links and missing images if it was opened it after the migration (a gap of three days).

In total, our MVP migration took three weeks to complete. We have a slight learning curve with Marketo after using HubSpot as we’re figuring out its different setups and quirks.

Overall, the migration went smoothly. Some things to keep in mind:

If you decide to migrate, make sure you have everything documented before you begin.

In general to keep a healthy Marketing Automation system, have a clean-up day every six months. This will keep the house in order.

Don’t sweat the details. Most Marketing Automation systems do what you need them to do really, really well. Just make sure you get a walk through of the important features. For us, it was the ability to really customize our campaigns and nurtures and the ability for sales to enroll a contact into a Marketo campaign directly from their Salesforce account.

Test everything. Especially web forms, email delivery, and responsiveness of email and landing page templates. I cannot stress the testing enough. Test all operational workflows, data syncing to Salesforce, and campaign setups. In our case, we had to test Bizible integrations as well.

Huge thanks to Tara, Sibil, Shannon, Victoria, and Kelly from Uberflip as well as Justin, Cat, Eric and Adam from Perkuto for pulling this off. Three weeks is an insanely short amount of time to off a migration. I still remember Justin saying, “Typically a migration takes months, three weeks is unheard of!” But we pulled it off. Massive kudos to everyone involved!

Questions? Come meet me at The Uberflip Experience!

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