How To Migrate Between Platforms Without Losing Your Data

In this issue I would like to talk to you about the inevitable.

Eventually, if you haven’t already, you will find yourself in need of migrating between marketing automation platforms.

It is a good problem that is the byproduct of your marketing growth. If you haven’t outgrown your toolset within a few years of starting your business you’re probably not experiencing aggressive growth (or your dedicated to making your existing tools work no matter how bad it hurts).

Years of attempts and many platform migrations later I found a process that has made this painful reality hurt much less.

Here are a few migrations I’ve had to performed personally and on the behalf of others in the order in which I’ve completed them:

  1. AWeber -> GetResponse
  2. GetResponse -> Infusionsoft
  3. Infusionsoft -> ActiveCampaign
  4. AWeber -> ActiveCampaign
  5. Infusionsoft -> Hubspot (by far the hardest, but my most proud achievement)

Each migration taught me so much about the process. And though I’d like to claim they got easier the more I did them, the truth is each one posed the same challenge…

Data retention.

Migrating between tools without losing data is always my biggest concern and the biggest obstacle. Lucky for you I have created a breakdown of my process that will provide you with the insight you need to pull it off effectively.

So without further ado here is my Guide To Migrating Platforms Without Losing Your Data (Or Hair):

STEP 1: Map out your sequences

I am a strong advocate to NEVER keep your campaigns inside of your marketing automation platform alone. Always take the time to map them out on paper before you build them in your application.

The digital paper I recommend using is a flow chart. While you can use a good ‘ol pencil and paper I prefer to use software for this task.

Trust me, it’s a lot easier to solve problems on a flow chart than it is to solve them live in any tool.

The flow charting software I use and recommend are:

  • LucidChart
  • Google Presentation (yes I meant the Presentation software by Google. I actually created this flow chart with it)

Now that I’m pretty proficient in flow charting I can pretty much use anything to map out my sequences before I build them. This is the only way to not be held hostage (from a campaign standpoint) by any specific automation platform provider.

Once all of your sequences have been documented in flow chart form you are now ready for the next step.

NOTE: Another benefit of having these flow charts is that you can easily provide them to someone who is more proficient in the tool you are migrating to and get your sequences built quickly instead of trying to master the platform yourself.

STEP 2: Build Your Sequences In Your New Platform

Now that you have your map, (I call this your “blueprint”), you are ready for your sequences to be built in our new tool.

You should know that no migration happens instantly, so expect to be paying for both tools for as long as it takes to get all of your data over cleanly. If you have a list size over a few thousand leads I can almost guarantee it will take over 30 days to get all of your data migrated over.

I’ve ranged between 2 – 8 months for my migrations and all of them have gone very clean.

STEP 3: Create Your Tags

Next you will want to create your tags.

Now is a good time to mention that migrations pose a great opportunity for clean up. Don’t just build a mirror of your existing tool, but take the time while you’re mapping things out to optimize by way of minimization. Look for redundant actions and tags that can be either eliminated or combined.

If you’re coming from a platform without tags here are a few you probably will need to create (I’m using brackets to indicate tag categories):

  • [DOWNLOADED] Name of LeadMagnet
  • [STATUS] Imported from (name of platform)
  • [ENGAGEMENT] Hasn’t clicked in 30+ Days
  • [PRODUCT] Name of product

You get the point.

The tags above are pretty much standard regardless what tool you are migrating from and should serve as a good starting point for you.

NOTE: Creating tags and building out your sequences will go hand in hand and is not a linear process. Meaning, you may jump between both steps in order to complete both steps. The important part is that once all your tags and sequences are created and in place you are ready to move to the next step.

STEP 4: Swap Out Web Forms

With everything in place in your new app you’re ready to start pouring leads into it. The way I prefer to do this is by my least important sequence first. That way I can see if everything is working correctly before I add my bigger sequences.

(By “bigger” sequences I mean any sequence that brings in revenue. Do those last.)

Since we’re doing this live, without taking down any of our LeadMagnets or putting our website into maintenance mode, you want to ensure that there are no broken paths. So switching out each web form one at a time is the best way to achieve this.

I use LeadPages so all I have to do is login to my account and change my integration settings of my LeadPage and/or LeadBox. Nothing on my website changes and it happens invisibly to my website traffic.

I also prefer to add new leads into my new platform before importing old ones. The importing process can be quite tedious sometimes so the fastest way I’ve found to test the functionality is to let new leads pour in from my website.

STEP 5: Import Existing Leads

This step is far more detailed than just getting a CSV export from your current provider and importing them into your new tool.

Here are a few ways you can handle your data import:

  • Export by list. You will need to tag them with your list name when you import them
  • Export by tags. If you don’t have an unmanageable amount of tags this may be the best choice
  • Reiterative imports. This is the process of importing the same lead multiple times. Each time you import them with a different group of contacts and performs a different action. For instance, the first time you imported them you added a tag. The next time you import them you update their existing record with a different tag.

You may find yourself in need of using all 3 methods. That’s ok.

Once your leads are all imported you’ll want to do some custom searches and compare segment numbers between platforms. This will give you a gauge at the accuracy of your import and the percentage of data loss, if any.

STEP 6: Deactivate Old Account

If all goes well you can finally eliminate the tab on your previous tool.

I tend to let both tools run side by side for a few weeks to ensure no leads are still going into my old platform and new leads are properly being routed to my new platform.

If all is well delete your old account and enjoy the fruits of your new migration!

Closing Remarks…

What are your thoughts on my migration process? Did I miss anything you think I should add?

That’s what I really love about this space is the amount of diversity there is in achieving a single outcome.

Let’s talk about it in the comments section below.

See ya next week!

Chris Davis

About the Author

Chris is the founder of Automation Bridge and Host of the All Systems Go! podcast. He has helped marketing tech startups raise a collective amount of funding over $237 million is passionate about helping you do the same.

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