An important part of any organization’s error maturity is having a “rolling back” functionality so the team can revert back to a previous working dataset in the event of a failure. Despite being a powerful and important feature, few marketing technologies include the ability to roll back despite its usefulness in situations where something goes wrong and a quick fix needs to be made.
Mike Rizzo, founder of MO Pros and an expert in MarTech, sat down to answer some questions about roll back capabilities and how it connects to marketing operations.
Why is rolling back important to marketing ops?
Having a way to “undo” certain actions is ideal for so many aspects of business and it’s even more important when you’re dealing with Marketing Operations.
Here are all the events where you can make a serious mistake:
- Turning on a campaign
- Turning off a campaign
- Updating an existing workflow/program
- Updating records in your database
- Accidentally deleting records from your database
What does HubSpot offer in their functionality?
HubSpot currently offers a “purgatory” for different objects / elements. For example, if you delete a contact record you’ll receive a message that lets you know the record will be deleted and in a queue – what I call “purgatory” – for 90 days before it’s permanently deleted.
You can do this for Contacts, Companies and Deals. Details on that here.
You can also restore a deleted Workflow from a relatively new feature they’ve added to their workflows tool. It functions the same way – 90 days and then the workflow is gone.
The purpose of HubSpot offering the ability to restore a recently deleted workflow, contact, company or deal is essentially the product helping to reduce the cost of support. I don’t have any data to back this up, but my hunch is that the HubSpot support team was fielding a plethora of calls to help “undelete” something.
Why is rolling back a missing concept from many current technologies?
Rolling back is a missing feature from many technologies because it’s a “nice to have” feature and frankly, it’s difficult to build and costly to store.
Solving for these three questions alone is extremely difficult:
- How many snapshots of data do you store?
- How often do you take the snapshot of the data?
- How long do you store that snapshot?
Most users would probably have a different answer to those questions. Some may want all data to be stored every hour, some may say instantly, some may say once a month. Finding the right mix of optimal storage that is both effective and efficient for the client needs is what’s most challenging. It can be done though.
Truthfully, products just aren’t in the business of building ways to improve operations and management of their solution. Typically the solution/product/MarTech tool is built for a purpose such as “send emails” or “easily route data” or “store data in an easy to access way”.
In Marketing Operations, we’re challenged to integrate MarTech, but integration is only half the battle. The other half — and more importantly — it’s about creating the process to manage the integration to avoid costly mistakes.
Building products that serve to solve operational programs for Marketing Operations Professionals isn’t what any products are really in the market to do. It’s just a small segment of their actual target market, which means few mainstream platforms are designing their tools with this special group in mind.
Organizations are going to need to invest in ways to make the Marketing Ops professional more effective and efficient with their time — every day they are granted more responsibility for critical business systems, no one wants leads to stop flowing… ever.
What are the limitations in the way it is done today?
I think the best way to answer this is through an example. Let’s say someone wants to have the ability to “roll back” or “restore” a point in time for some critical business data. For this example, let’s say that’s a set of contacts you intend to delete from the database to help reduce the cost or clutter of your marketing automation platform.
Normally someone would just download a CSV of all the data points of all the contacts they want to delete and then store that information in a cloud storage folder — maybe that’s Google Drive or Dropbox or OneDrive.
That’s a great fallback plan, but then let’s add a twist.
Let’s say the person who performed that backup didn’t create a document that outlines where backups are stored and they leave the company… Now what?
Let’s say the former employee created the aforementioned document but the new person (who they likely never met) doesn’t receive that information… Now what?
Long story short – the limitations of creating a manual process and placement for stored data is that it’s manual and lacks standardization.
Why is it important to be able to roll back – not just data about people – but workflows & processes as well?
It’s incredibly important to have the ability to roll back a change to a workflow. For example, if your team had created a workflow to nurture contacts to go from Lead to Marketing Qualified Lead chances are, they’ll eventually want to test a new version of that same workflow.
The only way to test a new version is to create an entirely new workflow and turn off the old workflow. Truthfully, there isn’t anything wrong with that process – in fact it’s necessary to ensure continuity of your contacts going through the workflows they’ve been assigned to and to avoid records enrolling into the new workflow.
But what happens when you’ve created many multiples of new workflows in an effort to continue improving on the metrics?
The result is that your team and Marketing Automation Platform ends up with a mess of workflows cluttering your database. Eventually you’ll hit the storage limits of your portal – forcing you to delete data.
No one wants to delete important data.
Having a way to archive critical data within a Marketing Automation Platform eliminates the “delete” function and simply provides a single repository for historical data. And, in sticking with the workflows example, a system that gives you the ability to archive critical data about your marketing tool would further standardize the way for your team to look at the performance of your prior workflows.