Marketing automation platforms (MAP), like HubSpot, are supposed to make your life easier and allow you to focus your time and attention on other, more pressing matters. However, if there isn’t proper oversight on the assets you’re creating within your MAP, they can easily have the opposite effect. What was once a positive contributor to your marketing, sales and service processes is now a major deterrent to managing and executing your initiatives — requiring guesswork and hours of sifting through old assets just to accomplish the simplest of tasks.
If the above sounds like we’ve just described your day, you are not alone. If you’ve let your MAP get to this point it may be time to take a step back and do something no one enjoys doing but is necessary for the health of your business and, more importantly, your sanity — a portal audit.
While all MAPs are not the same, there are some general guidelines we always recommend following when taking on this project. A key and often overlooked aspect of having a MAP is having one or two internal stakeholders/champions who can be a source of truth for any company’s protocol or best practices within the MAP, especially when an outside consultant comes in to audit and optimize the platform.
Before doing anything, we recommend you take a look at user permissions within your MAP. This is often a major source of inconsistency within the platform as different people have different ideas about how things should work and operate from their own role’s perspectives and initiatives.
To manage this, interview each department or user and determine what they need access to and what level of access is needed. Reorganize and document those permissions so that everyone in your organization knows who has access to what and why. Taking this approach should help alleviate any hard feelings over why the permission shuffle is happening and give everyone a better understanding of who they should go to when they need something specific accomplished. As a general rule, admin-level permissions (Super Admins in HubSpot) should be reserved for a specific group of power users, if not one person.
Now that permissions are squared away, it’s time to get those users on the same page with the MAP’s naming convention structure. Before actually touching any of the assets in the portal, it’s important to decide how you’re classifying different assets, how they’ll be tied together, and what detail should be expressed at a high level. What’s set and decided on here will do wonders for the future usability of the MAP and enable you to effectively navigate and report on the assets you’re creating and managing within the platform.
While there’s no specific naming convention structure we recommend, you should be taking into account things like campaigns you run, the timing of those campaigns, and any third-party connections you may have with your MAP.
It’s also important to note this should be a discussion with the same users you managed permissions for. Provide a starting point based on your expert-level knowledge of the MAP, but tailor it to the users that are building/working within the MAP daily. At the end of the process, you should have a document you can share with your team that clearly dictates naming conventions to be used in different asset scenarios. Don’t be afraid to update as your business evolves, and be sure to communicate those updates/changes to the rest of your team.
At this point in the project, you’ve laid the groundwork for the actual work that will begin within the MAP. You know who can edit/create certain assets and have the structure determined that you would like to implement. At the end of the day, a MAP is meant to promote to, sell to and/or service contacts in your database. For that reason, we recommend starting with understanding how those contacts get into your database so you can follow the breadcrumb trail from creation to the eventual processes they end up in and then optimize along the way.
Forms and Landing Pages
When examining the current forms in your MAP, look for redundancies or forms that are no longer in use. Lean on statistics like when the form was last submitted, how many views the form has, and when the form was created/last updated to determine if a form is still active.
While looking through your forms, document which landing pages they are attached to — can those pages be archived/redirected or are they in fact still in use/needed? Once that’s complete, look to consolidate your form structure. Utilize a funnel line of thinking to align content/submissions into buckets to help with portal maintenance and backend processes alike.
The goal isn’t to have one master form, but rather a more manageable grouping (e.g. if you’re running webinars, are you creating a new form each time? If yes, consider having a master webinar form). Remember to employ the naming conventions you’ve decided on earlier in the process, as well.
Other Database Entry Points
How else are contacts getting into your database? Are there integrations (like Salesforce) in play that need to be taken into account? If yes, you will want to document and reassess the integrations and make sure any mappings and settings are in line with your new naming conventions and database segmentation processes. Are there frequent imports being made by users? If yes, spot-check some of the imports and make sure proper data hygiene is taking place before importing — are the right fields present? Are users creating double fields? If yes, locking down permissions even more may be in order, or consider providing users with an import template/process document to help standardize their importing actions.
However contacts are getting into your database, you should now have all needed fields, lists, pages and forms in front of you at this phase of the audit. Now it’s time to break out that delete button to get rid of any unnecessary properties (make sure to consolidate in duplication situations), lists, LPs and forms. If you’re squeamish about deleting outright, utilize folder structures to archive unneeded assets to put them out of sight and out of mind, but also have the ability to refer back to at a later date if needed.
In phase two of the audit, you’ll be looking at what happens to contacts after creation. Again, since the health of your database and contact experience should be at the heart of your MAP strategy, looking at it from the perspective of a contact’s journey helps you prioritize and make decisions on assets shaping that journey.
You’ll probably bump into message and nurturing automations in the forms section of your audit (and you may even want to consider them at that time as well) but now you’ll want to look at the automation delivering messages to your contacts. Actions you may choose to take in this stage may be:
- Making sure starting criteria is accurate (e.g. Since you’ve consolidated forms, do you now need to reference page names as well?)
- Ensuring the emails included in the automation are aligned with your present-day voice and brand since these could very well be from years ago
- Making sure the goals of the workflow are aligned with your new structure and database
- Deleting or archiving now-obsolete automations
- Reapplying naming conventions to match with the forms and lists that may be driving their enrollments
We split operational from promotional automations only to drive home the fact that your primary concern should be about the experience of the contacts in your database — everything else should be secondary.
Now that you organized contact-facing messaging above, it’s time to turn attention to one of the biggest advantages of a MAP, database and operational flows that help you automate tasks/notifications and standardize/clean your data.
Here, you’ll be taking into account a lot of what you took into account with promotional flows but also pay attention to things like:
- Lifecycle stages and when/how they are being set
- Lead scoring
- Database hygiene strategy
- What internal notifications are in play and are there any gaps to fill?
With both promotional and operational processes, documenting is paramount for your MAP’s usability. Consider employing a tool such as Lucidchart to tie together your entire contact’s journey to ensure you’re not letting good leads die, be overpromoted to or otherwise get the wrong messaging. Likewise, documenting will allow you to identify and trim down to keep your systems running in optimum fashion and keep costs down, both in terms of hours spent, as well as keeping you under any system or subscription limitations you might have.
Every company’s MAP is different, and that means every audit will be different, as well. The practices outlined here are a solid starting roadmap to make sure you’re hitting the big areas, but be sure to customize them to your specific needs and priorities. Additionally, keep in mind that Marketing Automation Platforms are about more than just the areas mentioned above; your audit may very well expand into other areas/tools as well. In fact, it’s likely.
As a last piece of advice, if your MAP has become unmanageable, consider contracting with a partner like Kuno Creative to help unravel any digital tangles and get your platform back on track. Leaning on experience garnered across multiple platforms and industries is an invaluable level-up to your team’s knowledge and skill sets and can accelerate your timeline to platform zen!
Ready to connect? Schedule a consultation where we can discuss your marketing needs.