3 approaches to simplifying your martech stack
Marketing technology stacks are very complicated—like credit-card-fine-print complicated or teen-brain complicated. With very few exceptions, the marketers I speak with are eager for greater simplification.
They want to accomplish their marketing goals without having to navigate a spaghetti-works of tools that don’t always play together as well as advertised. Unfortunately, many are finding that they devote more and more time to sorting out the solutions rather than taking advantage of the benefits the tools are there to provide.
So how can marketers simplify things? We’ll help you answer that question by reviewing the pros and cons of the three approaches to building a martech stack.
Option 1: The best-of-breed approach
This approach focuses on assembling a piecemeal collection of solutions that are each, in isolation, the best at what they do—based on your needs, vertical, and other considerations.
- It allows you to select the best functionality available at each point in your marketing ecosystem. Sometimes the functionality is highly specialized for your industry niche or your specific use cases.
- It gives you the most flexibility in the timing of the rollout of functionality.
- More solution providers mean more relationships and contracts to manage, which can be time-consuming. You must manage more agency, consultant, and freelancer relationships since you’re in need of a wider array of skills and platform expertise.
- Integrations across best-of-breed technology are difficult and can be costly. These integrations can break as your best-of-breed providers release new updates to their solutions.
- Even when integrations are done, they often don’t allow the real-time flow of data. That creates delays in responding to customer requests, which can negatively affect customer satisfaction and cause missed revenue opportunities.
- With more solutions comes increased training cycles across the team to ensure proficiency and redundancies in skillsets.
- While costs of a best-of-breed approach are initially spread out, they tend to be higher over time because of the number of vendors involved.
Let’s be honest. While this option is an approach to building your martech stack, it isn’t going to help you simplify it. Many of the marketers I speak with didn’t build out their martech stack this way intentionally. Instead, they’re somewhat surprised to find themselves in this position after their organization and predecessors made a number of isolated decisions over time to bolt on additional solutions to their marketing ecosystem.
It’s probably fair to say that companies have in part been seduced by the sheer volume of available choices. According to chiefmartec.com, the number of martech vendors has increased from 150 in 2011 to 8,000 in April of 2020. That’s growth of 53x! Having choices is great, but you can definitely have too much of a good thing.
Given all those options, it’s no surprise so many companies find themselves with a martech stack that’s sprawling, disjointed, and underperforming. Let’s look at the real alternatives for simplifying things.
Option 2: The single provider approach
This approach uses a single company for all elements of the martech stack rather than using dozens of vendors as many companies do today.
- You have much fewer relationships and contracts to manage. Consequently, your agency and consulting needs are likely also streamlined.
- Because you’re using a single provider, integration between functions tends to be much stronger and more seamless.
- Real-time data should be easier to act upon because fewer integrations and data exchanges means a more frictionless path for activating data.
- Platform training is streamlined, and it’s far easier to have more marketers d.
- The cost of ownership is likely lower over time.
- Few vendors can provide a full end-to-end solution that fits the complex needs of mid-to-enterprise-level marketers, so options are limited.
- You may have to cope with functionality holes compared to best-of-breed solutions.
- While the cost of ownership is likely lower, implementation and other costs tend to be more concentrated up front because the rollout is bigger and occurs over a smaller window of time.
On paper, this option is by far the simplest. The underlying assumption that makes this attractive is that a seamlessly integrated one-stop-shop for everything is the solution. However, just because a single vendor offers a range of martech capabilities doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re actually integrated. Some of the largest vendors are simply a collection of disparate point solutions that they’ve acquired over the years. In some cases, the integrations are minimized to allow the solutions to be potentially sold or spun off in the future, so the level of integration should be highly scrutinized. If this option seems too limiting, consider the following.
Option 3: The best-of-suite approach
A best-of-suite approach is a compromise between options 1 and 2. In this scenario, the majority of the martech stack is built around one provider. The core suite of functionality is tightly integrated, but highly extensible. Then a select number of critical best-of-breed solutions are stitched in where necessary, based on specific marketing needs.
Let’s compare this to the best-of-breed approach that’s in place at most companies today.
- You have fewer relationships and contracts to manage because you’re using significantly fewer providers.
- With fewer APIs, technical integrations are easier across your martech stack.
- Fewer solutions means less training required and fewer skill sets to maintain.
- You maintain the key benefits of real-time data for the most critical aspects of your marketing.
- This approach may have slightly higher out-of-pocket costs at first, but it’s justified by the higher return on investment and the reduction in complexity.
Heavily investing in a single provider that you then supplement with a mix of essential best-of-breed solutions gives you the best chance at creating best-in-class customer experience. That’s our belief, and it’s increasingly the conclusion of more and more companies. According to 2020 research from Gartner, 59% of chief marketing officers are looking to buy a more integrated martech platform—a spike of 30% over 2019.
With the pandemic driving more companies to focus on creating better customer experiences across channels, reducing operational complexity, and boosting returns, consider the three options above and ask yourself if your current approach to your martech stack is helping you or holding you back.
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Reach out to us at CXMconsulting_ww@oracle.com.