When choosing Content Management System (CMS), Custom Relationship Manager (CRM) or Marketing Automation Platform (MA) software, marketers must determine whether an integrated suite or a “best of breed” application will best meet the needs of their organization.
An integrated suite combines multiple functions of a marketing tech stack in one platform to create a streamlined and centralized user and data experience. Marketers looking to fill a specific need often take the “best of breed” approach and look for software applications with unique strengths and more flexibility.
There’s no right or wrong answer. It’s a matter of what makes sense for your business. In this two-part blog series, we’ll dive into both approaches and discuss pros and cons.
Content Management Systems Suite (CMS)
Unified CMS platforms such as Adobe Experience Manager allow marketers to design, anticipate and deliver evolving experiences to customers in any funnel location across the web, mobile and in stores. The Experience Manager integrates the Adobe Creative Cloud, where there is a product for every possible type of content creation, affording users the opportunity to create and distribute content in one system. Marketers can also collaborate within the Creative Cloud, commenting and editing in a shared folder, eliminating the need to email or directly share assets back and forth.
The Creative Cloud simplifies the creation process; photos, videos, websites and other content can be made easily as Adobe Creative Cloud products all function the same with similar tools and composure. However, the applications do not function as well together. Adobe silos the applications. Users must export and import to translate projects from tool to tool. For example, to move a photo project from Photoshop to a video project in Premiere Pro, the user must export then import again.
Customer Relationship Management Suite (CRM)
CRM platforms maintain contacts, track sales and success metrics. These platforms centralize customer data, making it easy to understand audience reactions and KPI.
The CRM software, Zoho, is a unified experience allowing its users to reach out to target audiences and engage with them on multiple channels. With its conversational AI, marketers have their own sales assistant that can quickly find customer information. The CRM solution connects marketers and audiences through email, website live chats, telephone conferencing and social media analytics. Integrated CRM platforms like Zoho make connecting with customers faster and easier. There is no need to import and export data, and it makes reporting convenient – all with a single login.
However, on CRM platforms, there are many capabilities and options to monitor customer interactions and on Zoho, they do not all perform as well as many best of breed options.
Marketing Automation Suite (MA)
MAs streamline marketing efforts – automating repetitive tasks such as emails, social media posts and other communication methods. MA solutions measure customer conversion, track leads, website traffic and ROI.
Marketo helps to drive measurable results with lead management, email marketing, consumer marketing, customer base marketing and mobile marketing. With all of these solutions, Marketo also has a social media manager to automate posts and track engagement. It centralizes social media strategies with a single login. However, social media platforms only allow marketing suites to pull select engagement metrics. This restriction makes any MA solution with social media analytics less powerful than the social media platform’s internal analytics program.
The Internal Debate
Depending on the team’s needs, the entire integrated suite could be overkill. The suite offers everything imaginable, so marketers can be attentive to the evolving view of the customer.
Take analytics, integrated suites offer cross-channel metrics but tend to lack in-channel data best of breeds offer as table stakes.
Marketers have many solutions to choose from between a comprehensive cross-channel marketing suite vs. best of breed platforms. Campaign needs and budget can help to determine between the two. Unified marketing platforms have a solution for almost everything and have easy integration for individual platforms but may not be the best at all of their offerings; that’s when selecting a singular best of breed marketing solution can be advantageous.
Integrated Suite Key Consideration
Often times, integrated suites don’t function seamlessly as advertised. Without a hands-on evaluation of current processes of alternative solutions, it’s less obvious when a tech-seller demo’s with mastery. More often than not, it’s the little things that require heavy lifting that are overlooked when they’re not considered essential must-have features. The powerhouses, Adobe, Oracle, IBM and Salesforce didn’t build Rome in a day. Each acquired tech companies to bolt on and round out their core solution. The acquired solutions are acquired to expand their feature set; however, the user’s experience comes across as a modern-day Frankenstein. These powerhouses’ end game is to create an integrated suite with a unified seamless user experience. The reality is it takes years to create an eloquent experience. In the interim, their initial integrations are as if they slapped lipstick on a pig.
Based on our bloated tech-stack blog, we know your average marketing department uses 91 cloud services to manage and execute day-to-day marketing activities. You have to wonder what the ROI law of average is for using too many best of breed solutions vs. the integrated suite approach. In a later blog, we will revisit this topic to understand the pros and cons of best of breed solutions.