Marketing Automation - Buy or Build: Which is Best?

Posted by Rich McElaney

Even though there's a rapidly growing list of marketing automation platforms available for businesses to streamline and automate their marketing processes, there is a sizable contingent of business owners who prefer to assemble and integrate their own solutions. Why would a business take the "build a solution" approach to one of "buying an all-in-one solution"? Let's take a look at some of the key factors involved. marketing automation software resized 600

The Case for "Building" Your Own Solution

1. Current investment in existing solutions.

Your business may already have a great website built on a solid content management system - like Wordpress. Your email platform may work exactly the way you want it to and is priced right. Maybe you're a whiz with Google Analytics and you get all you need and more from an analysis standpoint. You've been using Salesforce long enough to be comfortable with it's utility for your business. 

It's completely feasible that the combination of time, money and hard work invested in your solutions makes it easy to say no to an all-in-one solution. 

2. The available all-in-one solutions don't provide the exact functionality needed.

Some businesses have very unique needs that may not be easily serviceable by an all-in-one solution. Even though developers are rapidly creating a wide range of plug-ins or add-ons to allow for customization, the functionality gap may be too wide to bridge.

3. The cost variance may favor "building" your own solution.

While pricing amongst the marketing automation system choices is pretty competitive, pricing across the variety of solutions used to build out your own solution can also be competitive. The ability for businesses to be very specific about their needs in each area of functionality can help control total cost. 

The Case for Buying an All-In-One Solution

One of the key reasons for the growth of marketing automation platforms in the marketplace is that business owners are time-starved and in many cases resource-thin, so the prospect of having an all-in-one solution is both an efficiency and productivity win. Instead of having to locate the various puzzle pieces needed to create a full support system for their marketing, businesses can easily find platforms that offer everything from content management to detailed site performance analytics. Some of the key benefits of that approach follow.

1.  Built-in integration among components.

One of the key benefits of buying a marketing automation platform is knowing that each of the functional components of the system "talk" to each other - they integrate with each other organically. From tracking an initial form conversion all the way to  closing a sale, the pathway a site visitor takes is pretty seamless, as is the reporting of the entire process. 

In the "build" scenarios, integration of the components can be a constant challenge when none of the companies providing the components upgrade functionality all at the same time. With an all-in-one solution, a change in one area comes with the assurance that the overall integration remains intact.

2.  Learning how to use one system versus many.

Once the decision to move forward with a marketing automation system is made, the most important task is to gain proficiency with the system so true change and the resultant performance comes quickly. That process is accelerated when using a single system.

3. Support is consolidated in one place.

At some point in the adoption of marketing automation, whether it's an all-in-one solution or an assembled solution, you're going to need help working through a technical issue. Having a single source solution to cover a range of potential issues is both a time-saver and provides peace of mind. 

4. The resource demand to run marketing is lighter.

If you add up the benefits outlined in #'s 1-3 above, the focus on running your marketing programs shifts from the tools to the strategy and the process - which is where it needs to be if you're going to execute successfully. When you're working in the system versus on the system, the demand for resources will be a lot lighter and more efficient.

Your Turn

I'd love to hear from those of you who've successfully assembled and built your own marketing automation support system. What has your experience shown you?

Likewise, if you've purchased an all-in-one solution, are you satisfied with the solution's functionality and the performance results you've achieved? Your feedback is most welcome and appreciated!


Tags: all-in-one marketing software, marketing automation platforms, marketing automation