This post originally ran in March 2016 and has been updated.
I realize that this isn’t the most exciting topic out there. Actually, it’s probably one of the least exciting things you can discuss (unless you’re one of those people who likes this kind of thing). Unfortunately, keeping house in your marketing automation (MA) system is a necessary evil. Without an effective way of organizing your content and data, you risk not being able to find what you need when you need it.
Of course, it’s easiest to implement an organization system when you first move to an MA platform, but it’s not impossible to do if you’re already established – it just takes more time to retroactively organize everything. Below are five of the most important things you can do to keep your system organized.
1. Develop a naming convention for each content type.
Tell a group of marketers that they have to implement a naming convention for their MA assets, and you’ll likely see a group eye roll. After all, when you’re in a hurry to get an email out the door, you don’t want to pause to dig up the naming convention document from wherever it’s buried on your server. What’s the harm in just calling it whatever you want?
Well, like I said earlier, that’s a great way to lose content in your system.
Naming conventions don’t have to be long and complicated. Here’s a good, simple system:
So in practice, it looks like:
As you develop more content, you’ll probably want to add more descriptors to your naming convention, as in this one:
So in practice, it would look like:
Or, for a landing page:
Obviously, abbreviate how you wish to shorten the names; just make sure everyone using your system knows the abbreviation. You’ll also want to make sure to create a naming convention for images, too.
2. Keep a spreadsheet for emails that includes their system names and corresponding subject line.
However you decide to name your emails, keep their names in a spreadsheet that also lists their subject lines. How many times have you gotten a forwarded email from someone telling you that a link is broken, and when you go to find it, you realize you can’t dig it up?
Having a naming convention will help, but the fastest way to find emails in your system is to have them in a document that lists their subject lines alongside their system name.
While you’re at it, it doesn’t hurt to keep spreadsheets of landing pages, forms, and images either. If your MA platform goes down, you still have a list of your assets. And if someone else at your company wants to see existing content, you can just shoot them a document rather than having to log them into your system. Also, having an easily searchable image list keeps you from doing things like uploading a copy of your logo into the system each time you want to include it in some content.
3. Conduct content audits at least quarterly.
You may need to do this more often, but it’s a good practice to go through your content at least four times a year. Even if your campaigns aren’t changing often, you’ll catch things like emails that include signatures of people who don’t work at your company anymore, or broken links. The last thing you want is a potential customer catching this before you do.
4. Conduct contact field audits at least annually.
Most MA platforms place a limit on how many contact fields you can have in your system. These suckers pile up fast, so you want to make sure to go in at least annually and remove fields you don’t need anymore. Often, these are things like really specific form questions for short-term campaigns, and the like.
5. Archive content at least annually.
In most platforms, archived content is still searchable, just not by default.
It makes sense to mark unused content as archived so that when you need to find something, you don’t get a long list of years-old content in your search results. Of course, it’s cleaner to just remove older content. However, if you’re uncomfortable with this, archiving is a less scary way to remove content from your view. Also, the practice of archiving content helps you find pieces that you need to keep live, but that may need to be updated.
System organization is a foundational activity for any marketer. For a more in-depth discussion of how to build your marketing foundation, download our ebook Smart Marketing for Engineers: Build Your Foundation.