An All-in-one or a Breed Apart? What to Choose?

By Amy Strada in Marketing
·5 min read

Oh, would that shopping for goods were as simple as it used to be. With so much on offer, how in the world are we supposed to choose? It's a paradox of choice.

Now, if you want to buy a new coffee machine, you might walk into a home goods shop and choose one on offer, but… probably not. We have access to coffee machines that are made and sold across the globe. Inversely, what if you are the one selling them? How do you differentiate your machines amongst the plethora on the market? How can you ensure your products are visible, and how will you get people to see your product above others?

Get Your Digital Marketing On

If you’re a clever coffee machine salesperson and envision your business getting legs, you’ve likely heard of digital marketing. The tools that help you actually do digital marketing are things like an e-shop, for starters. Then you have some form of web analytics to help you figure out who exactly is interested in your coffee machines and what they’ve looked at on your website and e-shop. You might then have a tool that helps you personalize your content, showing specific machines to specific audiences. And what if you want to send out additional information to your visitors? You might need a marketing automation tool that—you guessed it—automates the sending of newsletters or other content you deem interesting for your visitors.

All of these tools—and plenty more—are aspects of digital marketing. How many of these things do you have? And how many do you actually need? Some people may need only a few of these tools, while others will need the whole set. But everyone that would like their business to grow will eventually need to create an easily accessible and up-to-date profile for each one of their visitors. That is the direction in which we are all headed if we want to compete. If you don’t personalize and instead maintain a one-size-fits-all content approach, it’s likely you’ll lose out on a major portion of your potential customer base.

So how do you know what you need?

All-in-one vs. Best-of-breed

Well, first, let’s cover the basics. There are two approaches you could take to decide between tools (and there are a heck of a lot of them out there). The two umbrellas that exist are all-in-one products and best-of-breed tools.

When you buy separate tools for web analytics and e-commerce, for example, you are buying separate best-of-breed tools. Essentially, you are hunting for the best fit for you personally within a specific customer data silo. Because these tools are specialized on only one focus, they likely can handle more advanced scenarios within that focus. These best-of-breed tools all have to integrate with each other and with your content management system, if you have one. That may or may not get messy, depending on how many tools you’ll need for your business.

An all-in-one product is, as you’d imagine, varied tools that are placed all in one product. This might mean that, because it’s an across-the-board digital marketing tool, the specific tools within the product might not be able to deliver as much oomph as a best-of-breed tool might be able to.

So What’s a Vendor to Do?

Of course, before you make any decisions, you’ll need to do your own very specific research on which tools are right for your needs. But we think we might be able to help you a little bit. To narrow your search mildly into the digital marketing realm, consider some of the following factors:

  • Functionality

    As we’ve touched on already, only you and other decision makers working with you know your specific needs. Perhaps you have plans to grow your coffee machine business and become the next Nespresso, or maybe you’re perfectly happy selling modern-art-esque French presses to the people of Manhattan and its surrounding boroughs.

    Depending on how global you want to go, you must decide whether you require individual tools to be the crème de la crème or can work with a single product that provides diverse coverage of digital marketing. And hey—you might find that some all-in-one products function as well as some of their best-of-breed competitors. Keep functionality in mind, but don’t let it limit your vision.
  • Integration

    Be sure to check out the illustrative explanation in our infographic (it’ll be linked at the end), which does a great job of explaining the difference between the ways all-in-one and best-of-breed products integrate with one another. Put briefly, best-of-breed tools all integrate relatively independently, which means great attention must be paid to which individual tools you choose. You might select a marketing automation tool that has no integration capabilities for your content management system (and that would be pretty annoying).

    All-in-one products have the advantage of already being integrated. The one place you might need to integrate them with is with your customer relationship management system. This makes life a bit simpler when you need to update or upgrade since everything can be done at the same time.
  • Vendors

    When you have several different products, you clearly have to deal with separate Sales and Support teams, meaning communication can get hairy. Keeping track of all your emails is already a pain, but when you throw three, four, or five separate email exchanges to track, you might (understandably) go crazy. On the other hand, if you realize your personalization tool isn’t doing it for you, it’s quite easy to replace it.

    All-in-one products make communicating with vendors simple—you only have the one company to talk to. And who doesn’t want to make communication simpler? But if you then notice the product’s personalization tool is simply not enough, replacement could be difficult.

Any Final Words?

As always, it’s your decision. These tips are merely meant to try to make the decision process a bit more organized. If you’re looking for a deeper look into how to choose your digital marketing tools (and three more factors to consider), we’ve just come out with a brand-new infographic on the topic. You can check it out here.

Have you recently gone through the process of choosing digital marketing tools? Or are you currently hunting and have some tips and tricks for our fellow readers? We’d love to hear what you think. Are you a fan of all-in-one products, or do you prefer to shop around for individual solutions? Leave your thoughts in the comments, and good luck!

By Amy Strada in Marketing
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