Fine-tuning a new marketing automation system

Marketing automation migrations, Pt. 3

If you’ve ever migrated a domain to a new server, you won’t be surprised to discover moving from one marketing automation system to another is quite the process. While it can easily yield better, cleaner and more actionable data to drive your marketing strategy, you need to be careful. You might very well end up losing valuable contacts, measurable revenue and long-cultivated subscriber lists. If you’re thinking about or have been tasked with moving marketing efforts to the most advanced systems – marketing automation systems – this is one way to do it.

Before you get too far into these steps, be sure to read my last posts, which cover getting started  and setting up the system.

Testing and troubleshooting forms in a marketing automation system

To recap, here’s what we’ve done so far:

  • Set up our “thank you” email template
  • Created a form for subscriptions
  • Assigned values to various actions
  • Updated triggers
  • Uploaded our contact and lead lists

Now, we’re ready to test.

If you quickly migrate an old system into a new one instead of testing it rigorously, there’s a good chance you could be losing data.

As a general best practice, make sure you have plenty of time set aside to figure out exactly what’s going on with your service.

One of the things that is important to do when you’re testing anything is to turn on Google Analytics and go into its real-time features to see web activity. You can use any Gmail account as a test account by adding a plus sign after your email name (i.e., which Gmail ignores by default. Once you’ve done this, you’ve effectively created a very basic mailing list. Put the mailing list in the form and hit submit.

Test Marketing Automation System

Test as the owner

Back in your marketing automation system, you should now see your subscribers. As you continue to build out your various forms and lists, I recommend using a reflector program to capture data crossing from your existing system as you test. This will help you ensure you don’t break both the old and new systems if something goes wrong.

If you don’t see your subscribers, you might need to troubleshoot in the API. Here are some things to watch for:

  1. Are all fields (i.e., first name, last name, email, etc.) properly matched? If not, update all necessary variables.
  2. Is Mautic sending a “get” request (where you see the actual data inside the URL) instead of a “post” request, which the platform doesn’t accept?
  3. Are there bugs in the code? Use your formatter to identify and update any ongoing issues.

If you’re not a coder, this is where it’ll probably get sticky for you. I recommend getting well acquainted with Google, or reaching out to a developer for help.

Test as the subscriber

Back in your inbox, you should have received the confirmation (“thank you for subscribing”) email. Click through to one of the links to your website from the email and log into Google Analytics’ real-time events once again. Under traffic sources, check page views in the last 30 minutes. You should see your source/medium attribution from your email to your landing page.

This real-time dashboard is handy to keep an eye on throughout the testing process.

Testing and troubleshooting emails

At this point, you’ve set up your lists. Let’s test sending a list email to your subscribers. I recommend setting up a dummy list for this test. Next, format your email or newsletter as you normally would. This will also help you see any kinks in the content itself, not just the marketing automation system.

Once you have everything set up as you’d like, hit send!

From here, you can start to check link tracking to see what’s getting clicks, as well as seeing when emails are being opened, etc. As time goes on and you send out emails to your actual list, this dashboard will come in handy; it will keep track of completed actions and accumulated user points for lead-scoring purposes.

The end of the end

After you’ve completed all of your tests and troubleshot known issues, it’s time to deploy your new marketing automation system and officially send a newsletter (and not just in test mode). After a newsletter is sent successfully, you can delete lists from your old system and notify your vendor that you’re moving on!

Throughout this series, we’ve gone through the process of evaluating what kind of marketing automation system we want, inventorying and backing up our content, setting up Amazon Simple Email Service, quickly sent out test emails and deployed a Mautic marketing automation system. After deployment, we fixed tracking codes, ran more tests and officially migrated.

With a marketing automation system, the world of marketing technology is within reach.


If you don’t have $2,000 to $5,000 a month to spend on a new investment, you’ll most likely need to dedicate the time to get open-source software like Mautic to work properly. Now that I’ve made the move, my costs have dropped considerably and I can now track and properly score leads.

This was some pretty tech-heavy stuff, but hopefully you found it useful. What ways could you use a marketing automation system in your own operation? Are there any tips we might’ve missed that could save the total noob? Please share in the comments.

Image by: jenny downing via Compfight cc

Christopher S. Penn
VP of Marketing Technology at SHIFT Communications, Christopher S. Penn is an authority on digital marketing and marketing technology. A recognized thought leader, author and speaker, he has shaped three key fields in the marketing industry: Google Analytics adoption, data-driven marketing and PR, and email marketing. Known for his high-octane, here’s how to get it done approach, his expertise benefits companies such as Citrix Systems, McDonald’s, GoDaddy, McKesson and many others. His latest work, Leading Innovation, teaches organizations how to implement and scale innovative practices to direct change. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.