When to Utilize Paid Services vs. Tools (or Both!)
Your customers will inevitably face the need for a data migration solution when switching to your platform. When evaluating the methods for their data migration process, there are two main options available: using tools and using services.

Tools are software applications that allow users and companies to migrate data on their own, while services involve participation from a 3rd party to handle all or part of the implementation process. Both options offer their own set of advantages and disadvantages, and choosing the right one largely depends on your company’s specific needs and resources.


Data migration tools offer a cost-effective way to give your customers more control over their data import. Many tools are designed with user-friendliness in mind, offering customizable features to match the unique needs of each customer. When choosing a tool for your customers, prioritize solutions with a proven track record of successful migrations.

The level of effort required and user-friendliness of the tool will have a huge impact on the level of technical expertise and resources needed to manage the process effectively.

Tools can be broken down into two different types - with huge differences in how they function
and the level of ease in using them:

CSV Export/Import Tools

These tools are the most basic way for your customers to migrate data. They involve manually downloading and uploading files, which can be time-consuming and error-prone. Key considerations for SaaS companies include:

  • Customer frustration: CSV migrations are tedious and require technical know-how, leading to data migration issues and customer irritation.
  • Data loss risk: Not all data can be exported/imported via CSV, leading to potential data loss and gaps in customer information.
  • Increased support burden: Your support team may be overwhelmed with troubleshooting requests from customers struggling with manual migration.

This type of tool usually results in minimal out-of-pocket cost (though time-cost can be quite steep!) and full control over how the data is imported. While you are restricted in the type of data you can get access to, the upside is you can manipulate the data exactly as you need it when importing.

3rd Party API Tools

These are pre-built software solutions that use API to move data between apps. Users connect their apps and then can use a set of features to manage how the data is migrated. The features available can vary greatly between tools, so it is critically important to know exactly what your customer’s needs are when selecting the tool to use. A major benefit of these tools is to reduce potential data loss - any data that can be migrated via API should be covered and it ensures total legacy data migration. Key considerations for API tools are:

  • Cost: Typically these are cost-effective since they are already built and don’t rely on manual export/import - but costs vary widely so it’s important to evaluate competitors on their features, support and experience.
  • Supported apps: Since these are pre-built solutions, you will have to find one that already has an integration with the app(s) your customers commonly use.
  • User-friendliness: Some tools require technical expertise, while others are designed for non-technical users. Choose a tool that matches your customers' technical abilities to minimize frustration and support requests.
  • Support: Data migration can be complex, so reliable customer support is crucial. Ensure the tool provider offers responsive and helpful assistance to both you and your customers.
  • Time efficiency: One of the significant advantages of API tools is their speed. These tools can complete migrations in hours or even minutes, significantly reducing the time required compared to manual processes.

Third-party API tools offer your customers a powerful, efficient solution for data migration. By leveraging APIs, these tools automate the process, eliminating the manual work and potential errors and data loss of CSV imports. This can lead to faster onboarding, happier customers, and ultimately, increased adoption of your platform.

However, choosing the right API tool for your customers is crucial. Remember, your customers will rely on the tool's functionality, ease of use, and your customer support so it's important to choose one that integrates seamlessly with their platform and offers the features your customers need.


On the other hand, services for data migration are typically more expensive and take considerably longer to complete, but offer distinct benefits. These agencies typically provide expert guidance, project management, and additional services like data cleansing and platform configuration. While appealing to some, this "white-glove" service can come with drawbacks for both you and your customers such as high and unpredictable costs, considerable resources, and time. Key features of data migration services provided by agencies include:

  • Access to one-on-one professional help for your customer’s specific migration
  • Access to other migration-related services, such as onboarding and training, configuration of the database and more.
  • More flexibility on specific requirements that can be implemented for your customer’s migration.

If your customer’s migration project extends beyond just getting legacy data moved over, and they are looking for a full implementation of their platform, you may see a benefit in working with an agency. Most agencies use tools to complete the data migration itself, but the main value of their paid services are in their professional support and hands-on project management. When using a paid service, you can expect in most cases:

  • Cost will be higher than any other option: You are paying (usually by the hour) for a human-led experience. Total cost can be unpredictable and include additional upcharges.
  • Time to complete will be longer than any other option: You are using a service which is handling many projects at once and each project requires a substantial amount of attention to provide that one-on-one experience. These projects can take weeks to months to complete.
  • Limited app experience: Most agencies specialize in only a few select apps to work with, and you won’t find one that covers all the potential apps your customers are moving from. It will take time and research to find an agency that works with the apps you prioritize, and it may require you to utilize multiple service providers or limit the data you import.

Using a paid service comes with obvious benefits for those who want an individualized and hands-on approach. When considering this option, exercise caution around budget and time-constraints. The more complex or changing your customers' migration requirements are, the more your costs and timetables will balloon out of control. You will also be more prone to human error or bad judgment, since this is a human-driven experience and does not have the benefit of a productized solution. It is important to find a trusted agency and have clear expectations and a scope of the project you can align on.

So, what’s right for your company?

Data migration is a crucial step in your customers’ journey to your platform that requires careful consideration and planning. It's important to understand the options available and guide your customers towards the right approach.

The key is to not only educate your customers on their options and help them weigh the trade-offs but also to provide a vetted solution directly within your app. This approach ensures your customers don't have to navigate a potentially confusing search for a migration solution on their own. By guiding them towards a method that best aligns with their needs and resources, you'll ensure a smoother onboarding experience, build trust, and strengthen your customer relationships.

Looking for a data migration solution? Try Import2’s free sample migration today!