Marketing Automation Platform Ports and Rebuilds

Marketing automation platform ports and rebuilds can quickly go sideways if you don’t approach them correctly.

We’ve done just about every port and rebuild possible for the big-three marketing automation providers: Marketo, Pardot, and Hubspot.

If you need assistance migration from one marketing automation solution to another, let’s start the conversation. Until then, here’s some helpful information on marketing automation rebuilds and ports.

Marketo Silver Partner

Best Practices and Considerations for Marketing Automation Solution Ports

Marketing automation ports quickly raises questions. How will you port your current system’s data, workflow and integrations over to the new system? Will my old email templates work in the new system? What should be done first and how should tasks be sequenced?

Sequencing of the tasks in your workplan for a marketing automation port will depend on your specifics and which platforms you are porting to and from, but generally speaking, here are some things to consider.

Port Considerations for CNAME

Marketing automation software runs on cloud-hosted servers owned by the marketing automation service provider. Since DNS lookups can only associate one domain with one server, everyone who uses a marketing automation system sets up an alias, or CNAME, to point to the automation server.

For example, if you are a Pardot user and your website renders pages via, your Pardot forms and landing pages can’t have that same structure. As such, you’ll need to set up a CNAME, such as or and then login to your domain name registrar’s website and add the CNAME record to point that alias to

If you’re in port mode, somebody already set up that CNAME record, so the question is should you just point it to the new marketing automation platform or should you create a brand new CNAME, e.g.,

When migrating from one marketing automation platform to another, we strongly recommend the latter approach. Creating a new CNAME leaves you in a position to run the two marketing automation systems in parallel — more on that in a bit — if you decide to go that route. It’s also just a cleaner approach in that it avoids potential problems with DNS caching.

Running the Two Marketing Automation Systems in Parallel

When we talk about running two marketing automation systems in parallel simultaneously, we are talking about not having a hard cutoff from one system to the other.

Let’s say you’re using Hubspot forms on your website and you are migrating to Marketo. You can replace a handful of Hubspot forms with your new Marketo forms and have both the Marketo forms and the Hubspot forms co-exist on the same site.

The upside of this approach is that you can make sure your Marketo forms and backend are working correctly before you switch over every single lead form. The downside, however, is that you’ll start collecting activity data in one system that isn’t recorded in the other system. This can be addressed by creating a lead form that feeds both marketing automation systems, but that’s usually more headache than it’s worth if you haven’t already coded your forms that way and are instead using iframed forms.

The same try-and-test approach applies to other assets you’ll need to migrate. For a Pardot-to-Marketo migration, for example, you can migrate a subset of your landing pages to Marketo before doing all of them. You can migrate some of your email templates over and start running some but not all of your email campaigns on the new platform.

While some might argue that this isn’t the right approach for migration, that you should convert everything over at 2AM on a Saturday night, having tested everything on a staging server or sandbox instance, we’ve learned the hard way that, nine times out of ten depending on specifics, it’s better to port slowly but surely. (The exception is usually when the prior instance is badly broken and the organization can’t market until the port is done.)

How Marketing Automation Ports Can Mess Up Metrics

Regarding metrics and reporting, manage expectations when porting from one system to another.

You may not be able to generate the same metrics, and you may miss out on recording some activity during the port, especially if you take the slow-but-sure approach outlined above where you have two systems partially live at the same time.

Start with Your Salesforce Connection

In migrating from one system to another, the question about when to start and stop the two Salesforce (or equivalent CRM) connections comes up in a hurry. CRM-to-marketing-automation integrations are critically important to marketing automation success, so this is a hot topic for any migration.

We recommend that this is the very first thing you focus on. Getting your custom fields setup, field mapping, and all the other tasks related to CRM integration is job one.

Timing of when to turn the syncs on and off is also key. It gets complicated, but our marketing automation consultants can guide you through that important process.

In general, it’s best to let the Salesforce connections do your data export and data import work for you. For example, if you are migrating from Marketo to Hubspot, one option is to export Marketo lists and then import to Hubspot. Another approach is to have Salesforce hold all your contacts, turn on the Hubspot Salesforce sync and let the data flow from there. This isn’t an option if you run your shop, as many do, with way more prospect contacts in your marketing automation database than in Salesforce, but if your lists are identical, use the integrations instead of manual and tedious imports and exports.

Do Your Data Cleansing Work Long Before or Long After Your Port

It’s hard enough to do a port. Don’t add unnecessary complexity into the project plan by cleaning up your contact data to get rid of duplicates.

We recommend cleaning up your data on the old system before the port, and doing that as a separate but related project. Get that work done before you start the rest of the migration workplan. If you can’t do that because you need to crunch the timeline down, there are good ways and bad ways to clean data and port at the same time. Ask us about our best practices for that particular marketing automation port scenario.

Throw Away Your Junk

While we don’t recommend a marketing automation data hygiene initiative running while the port is underway, we do recommend that our clients get rid of old drip campaigns, email campaigns, email templates and more if they are not being used or are not up to snuff.

There’s just no sense wasting time porting that useless stuff, right? Only port over what’s working well and use the opportunity to get better assets in place while you can.

Use Your Vendor Resources

Marketing automation customer success teams love nothing better than getting a customer off of a competitor’s platform and on to their platform.

Ask for support on the hardest parts of the migration workplan. There have been times when we’ve been daunted by a particular migration task, called up our support contacts at the vendor and been pleasantly surprised to learn that there’s a tool to do the task or that the vendor will do the work for us.

Integrations, Integrations, Integrations

As part of your port strategy, make sure you list out every third-party software product or proprietary system and database that your current instance connects to and make a plan to replicate your integration functionality.

People often underestimate the work to port marketing automation system integrations when they do their workplans for a migration. Don’t make that mistake. Do the analysis up front and plan accordingly.

Plan for Landing Page Redirects

Many companies use their marketing automation landing pages for SEO purposes. That means the URLs are indexed in Google and other search engines (yes, we know, all you care about is Google, right?).

If you migrate to the new automation platform, there’s a risk that the URLs for every single Google-indexed landing page will change. 301 redirects are your friend. Talk to your techies about them and take steps to ensure that you don’t ruin your SEO strategy.

Email Authentication

SPF, DKIM, and DMARC are three email authentication methods for letting mail servers know that an email is legitimately from the sender rather than a spoofed or phishing email. Since your new marketing automation system will usually be sending emails from the vendors’ servers and not yours, getting these settings right is an important part of every configuration and launch effort for marketing automation.

It’s equally important for ports. The last thing you want to do is get everything right on your migration but forget to update DNS records for email authentication to tell the world that the new vendor’s servers are allowed to send emails from your domain. That mistake is costly.

You’ll not only find that your emails get marked as spam and are not delivered to prospects and customers, but, even worse, it can result in your domain getting blacklisted or a nasty note from the marketing automation vendor that you are not living up to their Terms of Service (TOS) and appear to be spamming people based on the high number of email bounces that might have been avoided if you just had updated that SPF record.

Other Tips and Advice for Marketing Automation Ports and Migrations

Want more tips and advice on this topic? We’ve got a ton. Set up a free consultation, and we can share the wisdom.

But a final important tip would be this one: don’t get so focused on the port that you stop marketing. Sadly, we’ve seen marketing teams get distracted with their ports and lose their focus on more important things like lead gen. The company misses their sales numbers, marketing gets blamed, and then there’s a reduction in force (RIF) on the marketing team.

It’s one of the main reasons we are brought in to do these ports. Your team can stay focused on business results while we handle the migration for you. It works!

Six Marketing Automation Ports of Note

Based on simple permutation math, there are six ports and three rebuilds one can do with Marketo, Pardot and Hubspot.

The six migrations, or ports, that we support are:

  • Pardot to Marketo – You’ll need to get used to different terminology (e.g Smart Lists vs Dynamic Lists) when you make this migration, and you’ll want to have your in-house team certified in Marketo ASAP. This can be a fairly straightforward migration if your current instance is in good shape.
  • Pardot to Hubspot – You’ll like the transition to Hubspot’s lead scoring tool and workflow generators, but you’ll miss many things in Pardot that are not in Hubspot. Due to Hubspot’s desires to be an all-in-one solution for every marketing need, you’ll find the user interface to be more intimidating, but training and time will heal that wound.
  • Marketo to Hubspot – The time for this migration depends in large part about the complexity of your Marketo use. Marketo power users who bleed purple may bemoan the simplicity of Hubspot, but others will feel more efficient once they adjust to Hubspot.
  • Marketo to Pardot – Your Marketo power users will be a little disappointed with Pardot’s advanced functionality as compared to that of Marketo, but many people prefer Pardot’s user interface to that of Marketo. We’ve gotten great results for our clients who use Pardot and it’s definitely a powerful tool for B2B marketers, so you should be able to get equivalent or better results after the migration.
  • Hubspot to Marketo – For larger B2B companies, the transition to Hubspot enables more complex reporting and workflows. That’s a double-edge sword. You’ll miss the all-in-one feel of Hubspot and Marketo’s complexity can be intimidating at times. But this is an upgrade path we know well, and it usually works out just fine.
  • Hubspot to Pardot – Pardot reporting, which is pretty limited, is shockingly simple to former Hubspot users. The migration plan should make sure reporting is done via Salesforce dashboards or a business intelligence tool (e.g. PowerBI) that taps into a data warehouse which is synced to everything in your sales and martech stack.

Your reason for porting from Pardot, Marketo or Hubspot will vary. Maybe you just bought the wrong solution and are ready to get on a platform that suits your needs. Maybe there are external forces driving the change, such as an acquisition.

Regardless of the why, we can help with the how. Talk to our experts to determine if and how we can assist.

Three Marketing Automation System Rebuilds We Know and Love

Whereas a port, involves migrating from one system to another, a marketing automation rebuild usually involves consolidating multiple instances of one provider into a single instance for that same provider.

This is often needed when a company grows through acquisition and the acquired companies are using the same marketing automation software as the acquiring company. During organizational changes, employee turnover and transitions can also accelerate the need for a rebuild.

Alternatively, marketing automation rebuilds can be necessary when an instance is so dysfunctional, due to poor planning and oversight, that it’s faster and more cost-effective to just shut the old instance down, fire up a new instance, and migrate over the automation assets that are in decent shape.

Finally, a rebuild can be necessary when you switch from one CRM to another or consolidate many CRM instances.

Regardless of what’s driving the need, we can help with the following rebuilds:

  • Marketo Rebuild – Migrating to a new Marketo instance from an existing one can be easy or hard, depending on your circumstances and on your desires. If you want to keep all your legacy Marketo activity data, you’re looking at a more resource-intensive rebuild. In general, this rebuild is more difficult than you might expect. Talk to our team about our Marketo software consulting services if you need help with your Marketo reinstall rebuild or reconfiguration.
  • Hubspot Rebuild – We see fewer people asking for Hubspot rebuilds, in part because Hubspot is simple enough that most people don’t break it. Following the cross-platform port best practices discussed above will help make this a smooth migration.
  • Pardot Rebuild – Pardot makes it relatively easy to export many Pardot assets and then reimport them into a new Pardot instance. Still, you’ll want to take advantage of Salesforce’s support resources (Salesforce own Pardot) to get the migration right.

Getting Consulting Support for Marketing Automation Rebuilds and Migrations

If you are considering porting to a different marketing automation system or rebuilding a current Marketo instance, Hubspot instance or Pardot instance, let’s chat.

As a second opinion on whether you are making the right move and have a good workplan for the transition, we’d be happy to do a quick marketing automation assessment analysis for you. It’s always good to have a second set of expert eyes on your plans before you jump into a port or rebuild.

When you work with Walker Sands, you’ll be working with one of the top marketing automation agencies in the country, part of a larger integrated marketing agency that brings the end-to-end perspective that is essential for marketing automation success.

Throughout the process, our focus will be on how the work can drive better business results your way as fast as is humanly possible. We play for high score here. It’s just our way.

Like our way of thinking? Need somebody to carry you across that finish line? Want to impress your organization’s skeptics? Let’s begin the discussion and take it from there.

Get in touch