A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about how I am such an organizer.  I was reminded again last week how that can be a very good thing when setting up a new Marketing Automation (MA) system.  I went through training on Aprimo Marketing Studio On Demand last week as we are adding that tool to our arsenal of products at The Pedowitz Group.  It occurred to me that one way that every MA implementation is similar, regardless of the tool, is that serious consideration needs to be given to organization of the system up-front.  If you don’t put the time and effort into it up front, within a few months you will have a monstrous, out-of-control system where you can’t find anything.  Especially if you have a lot of users in the system.  So here are my thoughts on considerations and issues as you setup and organize your MA system.

  • Naming conventions – you need them!   For any marketing campaign, you are going to have several different elements to setup in your MA system.  You need to name them consistently to keep track of them.  Also, if you have several different people working in your system, they will need to find their own stuff.
  • Security.  This is a tricky one.  Depending on your MA system, you will have different levels of security options.  Some will let you lock down everything you do so only those working on the projects will be able to see it.  Others only have security at the top level.  While you may have the urge to lock absolutely everything down that you can, you need to balance this with sharing best practice campaigns so your users are not re-inventing the wheel every time they setup a new campaign.  My advice is to have some level of security and then put into place a governance document that helps guide everyone’s behavior in the system.
  • Data hygiene – especially for things like picklists.  You should have clear data priorities setup (whether you can force them or you just need to setup rules in your governance doc) to avoid overwriting good data with bad.  You should also have standards for picklists and adding new fields and picklists.  Even if your MA system doesn’t force limits on the number of fields or picklists you can add, you still shouldn’t let just anyone add fields and values.  Maintaining these will save you a lot of headaches down the road when you want to delete fields only to find out there are a lot of other dependencies.
  • Filters.  Most MA systems have a concept of filters or segmentation (or both) to help you narrow your audience.  You should setup some standard filters that will be frequently used so you don’t have a bunch of users creating many different versions of them.
  • Headers and footers.  Make sure you have created all of the standard headers and footers to satisfy each business unit and geography – you shouldn’t be leaving it to your everyday users to create these.
  • Templates.  Again, you don’t want your everyday user to constantly be reinventing the wheel, so try to create everything in advance that you can.
  • Subscription management.  Making sure the right people get the right stuff is key but can be tricky depending on how granular your subscription options are.  Definitely put a lot of thought into this one up front so you can ensure your users don’t unsubscribe due to lack of relevance or too frequent communications.  And setting this up correctly in your MA system is important since it is very difficult to change later.

Procrastinators, take heart – if you already have an out-of-control system, you can always do a clean-up and fix it.   Just follow the items above and then put a good governance doc in place for everyone to follow.  You’ll likely need to do a clean-up every so often, anyway, but this should hopefully cut down on the maintenance.

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I’m going slightly off the marketing track today, but you global marketers might find this useful anyway.

I have a confession – I am an organizational junkie. I keep very little on my computer desktop – everything goes into folders. I regularly clean out my email inbox and file everything into folders. I like to shop at the Container Store.  I put all of my one-year-old daughter’s books back on the bookshelf every night, even though I know the minute she sees them there she will just pull them all out again (aparently she didn’t get the “organizational” gene, or at least it hasn’t surfaced yet).

For me, it somehow makes my life feel a little more in control. And for someone with a lot of balls in the air, that’s important. So today I thought I would share five FREE applications that I use that keep me organized at work. Let me know if you have any thoughts on how to keep the rest of my life organized 🙂

  1. Password Safe.  Oh the woes of having a million passwords for every site you surf today.  It’s not safe to use the same password for everything, nor is it safe to keep them all on post-it-notes on your desk.  But Password Safe can store them all nicely for you.  And when you need one, you just need to remember one password to get into your safe (make it a good secure one!).  You can even tell it to browse to the site you want and auto type in your username and password right from the safe.  Oh happy day!
  2. Avant Browser.  Somewhat along the same lines of password safe, this Internet browser will let you save form entries and with one click (like a bookmark) it will browse to that site and log you in.  I use this mostly for sites where I have multiple logins for the same site.  The nice thing about Avant Browser is that when you logout, it will completely log you out, so if you need to log into the same site with a different login, you won’t start getting all kinds of funky errors.
  3. OneNote.  The desktop version is a paid part of the Microsoft Office suite, but you can use the online version for free.  I use this as my new version of post-it-notes.  I keep all of my to-do’s, organized by client, so I can quickly make updates and see where I am on a project.  And Microsoft was smart enough to come out with an iPhone app for OneNote just recently (also free for a “limited time”) so I can still access all that info when I am on the go.
  4. TripIt.  If you travel very much, you just can’t live without this one.  You can store all of your itineraries for a single trip in one place.  You can email your airline and hotel reservations to TripIt and it will automatically add them all to your itinerary.  You can download the iPhone app for TripIt and access all the details for your trip in one place.  So the next time you hop into a cab in a strange city, you’ll have the address of your hotel handy when the cab driver doesn’t know where it is.
  5. iGoogle.  There are other search engines that essentially do the same thing, but I love iGoogle.  You can personalize your Google home page with RSS feeds, your email, and a ton of little apps.  You can organize all of this stuff into tabs so you can quickly find your favorite news, blogs, and information.  I have this set as one of my home pages with my email and Twitter app on the first tab to make sure I stay up-to-date with the world.  To find iGoogle, just go to Google.com and click on iGoogle from the menu in the upper right corner.

Happy organizing!