You’ve selected which marketing automation toolset is best for your organization, so how long will it be before you are executing your strategy? (If you haven’t already, be sure to read Tip #1, Tip #2, Tip #3, Tip #4 and Tip #5.) Don’t rush it! Make sure you take the time to implement the system properly so that it matches your strategy. How effective is a tool that doesn’t do what you need?
Tip #6: Resist impatience during implementation—take the time you need to get to “go live.”
Once you’ve found a suite of tools that work for you, it’s time to set a process for how you’ll bring them to life—and how you’ll migrate your data from its current location to its future home. This process should feel comfortable and manageable for your team, skills, and timeline. And though you might be itching to launch some campaigns at this point, it’s worth taking the time to do it right.
For example, in our interview with Greenbelt Alliance, they shared that it took a full two years to optimize and test their suite of nine tools, which they installed and tested in a staggered fashion over the course of several months. DonorsChoose.org, on the other hand, had a robust team of developers that worked with a third party to custom build their solution over the course of six months.
Selecting Your Best Timeline
What are the key components of the implementation process?
Think about things like implementation, testing, optimization, data migration, and customization.
How much of this process will be done by your staff, and how much will be outsourced to a vendor?
If your staff will be learning from your vendor or outside developer, plan ahead for more time between milestones.
Who will undertake the process of data cleanup, and when does your data need to be ready to move?
Note: data cleanup can often fly under the radar, but it’s a critical step in the process. Without reliable data, you cannot move forward with confidence. You’ll need to clean up duplicate records, bad emails, unnecessary segmentation, old lists, list overlap, and other common pitfalls in order for your automations to run smoothly.
Is my team set up to have the updates and information they need?
To keep the plan on track, Sierra Club set up a weekly meeting with team leaders to review the project plan and address over arching issues. In addition, smaller teams held weekly meetings to discuss where they are on specific aspects of the project, such as email versus advocacy versus tech issues.
Does your team have the space and time they need to focus on “go live”?
What are the major campaigns or initiatives you have for the first 18-24 months after you go live? Scale back any non-essential activities– there will be delays.
On a related note, be prepared not to meet your deadlines.
Marketing automation is sort of like building a house– the contractor’s estimates won’t ever match up to the date you’ll move in, but the delays will be worth it when you have a new home built on a solid foundation.
Although there is no true “finish line” with any marketing strategy or tool, the good news is that this stage is where your planning work is going to bear fruit. New constituent relationships can form quickly soon after implementation is complete, and that’s when you’ll start to see your own successes.
More Tips for Marketing Automation
Get more insights on how to get started with marketing automation our paper Tips for Nonprofit Marketing Automation below. It will help your organization evaluate where you are and where you want to be with marketing automation. You’ll hear directly from nonprofit communication pioneers from DonorsChoose.org, Greenbelt Alliance, Sierra Club and more who have taken the plunge into marketing automation. Inside you’ll learn insights on how to approach a new marketing automation effort, what to look out for, and how to make the most of this technology.
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