Best-of-Breed or All-in-One marketing software, which serves you better?

Do you need a complete all-in-one marketing suite with all your marketing functions on a single dashboard? Or would you be better off with a Best-of-Breed approach, combining several tools?

We did research on the differences in satisfaction and what to look for in both. Let’s dig in.

Best-of-Breed or All-in-One, you have to choose.

The world of email technology is going through a revolution.

As a marketer, you have more options than ever for technology to help you build an effective email marketing programme. That’s the good news, but that’s also bad news. Having more options means it is harder to find the right technology partners amongst all the options.

A quick scroll through the Marketing Automation and Email Providers section on this site shows you a bewildering array of solutions and providers to send, track and analyse email.

How do you start with your selection? The best way of selecting will depend, but you do know it forces you to decide whether you need an all-in-one marketing suite, or if you better go with a Best-of-Breed email tool.

You’ll discover the solution that’s right for you based on a clear strategy for using technology and what you need to gain from it.

Movement in the ESP market has changed the story

The email technology landscape changes continuously. ESP mergers and acquisitions have led to the rise of the all-in-one marketing suite. The all-in-one promises to be the Swiss Army knife of digital technology, hosted in the digital cloud.

The biggest player in this space is Salesforce. Other examples of classic all-in-one suites include Oracle, Adobe and IBM.

The top 10 most popular ESPs now own about 63% of the global email marketing market. Litmus predicts the share could grow to 66% by the end of 2019 as larger tech companies buy or merge with other platforms. Litmus also predicts more users will abandon homegrown email platforms. More companies will move to using only one ESP to send marketing messages instead of using multiple ESPs and fragmenting their email programmes across three or more services.

Marketing suite vendors: Functions over flexibility

Marketing suites promise marketers the ability to consolidate and automate email marketing, lead acquisition and nurturing and other marketing functions with a single dashboard of integrated tools.

Although suites take much of the complexity out of technology use, especially for companies that don’t have tech staffs large enough to research and create their own technology stacks, they have several drawbacks:

  • Integrating the suite with your company’s database and other systems can take significant IT involvement (and time) to achieve, offsetting the money saved by not paying for several different subscription services.
  • The convenience and functionality of a single dashboard can come at the cost of flexibility and utility. You can end up with tools that don’t meet your needs, and you can’t pick other Best-of-Breed vendors to go with your Best-of-Breed email tool.
  • One tool in your suite might be a “Best-of-Breed,” but it’s not necessarily the one your digital marketing programme relies on.

User satisfaction is lowest among suite vendors: That’s what we learned when we surveyed email marketers around the world.

  • Our Email Vendor Satisfaction Survey discovered that marketing suites rate highest for functionality compared with small to medium-size ESPs and enterprise-level ESPs.
  • Suite users are more likely to be unhappy about the costs, complexity and customer service and were more dissatisfied.
  • Suite users are less likely to use half or more of the tools and features in their marketing suite. 27% of medium-size to enterprise-level ESPs said they use 60% or more of the tools in their platform compared with 22% of suite users.

Best-of-Breed: Choosing the best tool for how you do email

If email is the backbone of your entire marketing operation, your email platform must help you perform at the highest levels. A Best-of-Breed tool is one that focuses on being the best in its niche, whether for email, social media, personalisation, analytics, or real-time content.

There are multiple reasons why you would choose for Best of Breed solution for email marketing software in your Marketing technology stack.

Ayal Menaged from Ongage, elegantly describes three key benefits to Best of Breed:

“A best-of-breed solution provides three key benefits.

First, best fit to ones given needs.

Second, by mixing and matching different components, the solution is much more flexible and agile. The individual building blocks can be more easily updated, upgraded and swapped, without affecting other component systems.

And finally, it is possible to incorporate specialized pieces, with greater strengths than would ordinarily be possible.”

You can descide which of the considerations weighs more in your own situation. Consider the pros and cons of each.

The main pros and cons of best-of-breed at a glance:
+ The software systems themselves offer exactly what you are looking for
+ Low cost per software system
+ Simple and therefore fast to use
+ The ability to build your own bespoke tech stack made up of multiple Best-of-Breed solutions

– Multiple suppliers with multiple relationships to manage
– No one vendor to take responsibility for connection failures
– Your business processes need to be tailored to the different software systems

The promise of integration

Note that with the Best-of-Breed solutions, the integration with other systems needs to be at the level you need, but this is also true of All-in-One cloud vendors as well. For these all-in-one solutions are often built out of multiple components or technologies they acquired over the years, and as such their internal integrations are sometimes not as seamless as you would expect.

“Best-of-Breed” email tools are not all alike

Best-of-Breed tools vary quite dramatically. For one you have to consider the range of the solution and how it will fit into your complete stack.
Full-service ESPs,bundle front-end services such as content, analytics and reporting with a back-end delivery service. An example is Tripolis, with whom we partnered in the vendor satisfaction research.

On the other end of the spectrum are SMTP delivery vendors, who only do the delivery of your emails and need to be connected to another system to do so. Sometimes the solution is a combination with a front end marketing platform such as Ongage, which allow users to connect to multiple SMTP services.

Strategy helps you choose the best Email Service Provider

Our email vendor satisfaction report uncovered one especially unsettling statistic: Fewer than half of all marketers follow a written marketing strategy.

Why does this matter? Because those who create a roadmap for using technology are more likely to let business needs lead strategy rather than new features. Marketers end up with the wrong email platform when they let tactics like flashy new technology features guide their decisions.

We need to think strategy when choosing email marketing technology. When you map out a rationale for using technology, you’ll end up with a better tool. A platform that is more likely to make your email programme more efficient and drive more revenue.

Let your needs rule the decision

Take the time to assess what you need from your technology providers instead of simply accepting an all-in-one package from a marketing suite or even an ESP. This will help you build the email platform that will become one of your strongest business partners.

About Kath Pay

Kath lives and breathes email marketing, she is not only a world renown speaker and trainer but practices her art with her consultancy, Holistic Email Marketing, where she is Founder and CEO.

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