In the first part of this blog series, you learned the pros and cons of integrated suites for content management systems (CMS), customer relationship management (CRM) and marketing automation (MA). In this sequel, we examine when a best of breed solution is the better-defined approach based on business goals and processes.
Marketers target customers in different stages called the marketing funnel. There are many forms of this funnel, but the general stages are awareness, consideration, conversation, loyalty, and advocacy. Each step requires a subset of marketing tools. Depending on the campaign’s stage, resources or scope, marketers may be better off with a concentrated best of breed solution instead of an integrated suite.
An integrated suite offers all-in-one feature sets with so many tools, yet, they still only cover 75%-80% of marketing's use cases. Best of breed solutions provide specific solutions for robust campaign use cases tailored to perform a categorical task well. There are disadvantages such as multiple logins, invoices, and disconnected data, but best of breed solutions do allow marketers to spend money on tools focused on specific nurture outcomes across the customer’s journey.
Content Management Systems (CMS)
Let’s say you’re at the top of the marketing funnel, trying to raise awareness. One of the most common ways to do this is through content marketing. Content builds awareness, a reputation, search engine optimization, and ultimately a brand. For a simplified content marketing campaign, an entire content management system like Drupal may be overkill.
Instead, content creation applications such as Canva can help marketers create shareable content like social media posts and other graphics. For refined budget campaigns, most of these best of breed platforms offer free accounts and provide pricing packages with additional features.
When the campaign stretches past awareness into conversion, best of breed platforms become limiting. For example, a content builder may help you create great content but won’t provide the necessary analytics to measure customer interest, engagement, and impact. Marketers must often integrate website plugins into best of breed tools to add on the features they require. Incorporating plugins is more cumbersome than using an integrated suite, but does allow for smaller, more specific campaigns.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Companies focused on measuring sales conversion through onboarding, and ongoing support may weigh the all-in-one suite (Salesforce) versus the combination of a sales focused customer relationship management solution with a leading customer support system like Zendesk.
The benefits come down to how your organization manages customers. Often, how a customer is acquired has no dependency on how they adopt the solution which narrows your scope of evaluation criteria for CRM features.
As reviewed in part I, Integrated Suite vs. Best of Breed – What’s right for your marketing team? There are perils and pitfalls to consider each model.
1) Information flow and organization – An integrated 3600 view of the customer
2) Communication flow – Continuity between pre and post sales information
3) Analytics and reporting – End-to-end customer journey insight
There are perceived values of the all-in-one supercharged suite versus best of the breed. An interesting misnomer and main selling point of a powerhouse CRM suite are its integrated functions. The truth is when examined under a microscope some of the all-in-one suites have the same integration issues as their best of breed foes. This gloomy truth is due to mergers and acquisitions. Most of the large companies purchased best of breed solutions to fill the gaps their own best of breed solutions lack which leads to cobbled together features and a disconnected user experience
Marketing Automation (MA)
As we continue to discuss the marketing funnel, awareness campaigns don’t necessarily yield the most accurate metrics but are considered vital to brand building and should be automated to scale. As discussed in part one of this series, marketing automation suites such as HubSpot automate repetitive tasks such as social media posts and other communication methods. Best of breed solutions such as the social media analytics and scheduling tool Hootsuite are often more in-depth because the proprietary platforms only release some engagement numbers to outside programs.
For campaigns gunning for retention and advocacy, the bottom of the funnel activities, a marketing automation solution lets Marketers design the customer engagement experience with nurture programs and behavioral triggers. A best of breed solution such as Constant Contact or MailChimp will automatically send personalized emails to customers at the right time, simplifying and streamlining marketers’ tasks to boost conversation rates. These MA tools set out to be intuitive and the most inexpensive solutions in their genre. These best of breed solutions made it their mission to create pre-built integrations to compete with integrated suites with market-friendly pricing.
When planning and executing campaigns spanning the entire marketing funnel, Integrated suites offer a streamlined approach for intricate and multi-channel campaigns compared to their best of breed competition. Single tools limit marketers and take up more time as they must switch between platforms and accounts as well as port data for a holistic view of the customer.
Trade-offs and Choices
Marketers have many options when searching for software to track and manage daily tasks. Integrated suites and best of breed tools have their pros and cons, but each can help organize and execute marketing efforts. Integrated solutions do just that-- combine features and function to create a full marketing platform. Best of breed tools offer marketers a simplified, yet distinct marketing approach.
The debate continues, but we hope we’ve armed you with knowledge coming from both sides of the coin when it comes time for you to evaluate which solution is right for your organization.