Whether you’re new to Marketing Automation or you’re a seasoned Marketo pro, my guess is you’re aware of the importance of documentation. So why is it that so many Marketing Automation users lack proper documentation for their instance? Whatever the reason is, let me share with you the benefits of developing a Master Document for your instance, and how you can tailor it specifically to meet your company’s needs.
The Importance of Documenting your Instance Setup
As Marketo Consultants, we work with a lot of clients of different sizes, industries, countries, and cultures. What we know to be true across all of our clients is the need to document; why a certain decision was made, how a particular program was set up, and what integrations are being used in conjunction with their instance. Moreover, with all the growing compliance and legislation policies, you want to be confident that you’re not in violation and understand why a program was set up the way it was, right?
All of these are important factors to be aware of, but many Marketing Automation users likely don’t know how to answer them. In fact, if you asked them they would probably say something like:
I joined 6 months ago and that is just how it was set up. They didn’t tell me why it’s just how we do it, I guess
Not exactly reassuring, eh? There may have been turnover within the organization or maybe you had a third party vendor set up your instance for you and they’re no longer a partner. Whatever the reason, how can you ensure efficiency, consistency and minimal risk of compliance and program malfunction for those involved? The answer, as you may have guessed, is through documentation.
Benefits of Documentation
- Shared knowledge across the past, current and future team
- Lower variation amongst processes
- Higher efficiency (less time wasted searching for answers)
- Lower training time (saves $)
- A higher level of professionalism
- Business continuity
- The ability for better coverage (smoother handoffs)
- Sets the baseline of quality to be continually improved on
How to Document your Instance: Start Simple and Build as You go
Now, let’s get to the tough part — creating the documentation. At Demand Spring, we prefer the trusty Word Document, for a few reasons. The first reason is it’s great for maintaining and updating over time, especially if you use a collaborative tool where version control is not an issue. If you don’t have a collaborate tool, make sure that the file lives in a space where everyone that needs to can access it and that a solid naming convention is enforced.
When to Document: There’s no Time Like the Present
This might seem like a typical consultant answer but now is absolutely the best time to document your instance set up. Why?
- If you are not using Marketo or have just started using Marketo, you don’t have a lot to document and the process should be fairly quick.
- If you have been using Marketo for a while now, and have survived without the documentation, you’ll want to document it now before there is turnover, new integrations are added, or before users are added.
- If you have just started a new role at a company without documentation, this is a great way to take initiative and impress your new boss – while also giving you a great learning opportunity to understand how and why everything is set up.
*It is also important to keep the documentation current, so it’s not just a stand up and put on a shelf document. You need to create a process and policy around keeping it up to date, and assigning responsibility to someone to make sure there’s accountability.*
What to Include: Find the Right Balance to Keep it Manageable
Once you’ve identified the format you want to use, it’s time to start thinking about what you will include. Be careful about your level of specificity here, if you start too specific this task might snowball out of control and suddenly you’re at Q4 2020 with no implementation plan in sight. Do not feel that you need to get too granular here, we typically sort our documentation into a few important buckets:
- Introduction – This states the purpose, the contributors and the scope of the documentation
- Current State – Here you will highlight your Processes, Assets, Analytics, and Tools/Technologies
- Configuration – This is the largest chunk of the documentation. Here we typically have Instance Info, Admin Setup, Email Set Up, Security, Channels/Tags, Folder Structure, Master Programs (Program Templates), Naming Convention, Data Governance. Audience Identification, Subscription/Communication Preferences, Global Assets, Analytics. Revenue Cycle, Lead Scoring, and Lifecycle
Now that you understand the benefits of documenting your instance, I hope you’ll find these tips useful for getting started towards developing a strategy that works for you. If you have any questions, or would like assistance setting up your Marketo documentation, feel free to reach out firstname.lastname@example.org.