Are All-In-One Marketing Suites Really the Best Solution for SMBs?

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Compared to large enterprises, marketing for small businesses is an entirely different beast. With fewer resources and staff, it’s easy for SMBs to get overwhelmed.

A recent study found that 71 percent of small business owners do their own digital marketing, a stark contrast to CMOs and directors of marketing in larger businesses. The problem, however, is not that SMB owners are doing their own digital marketing — it’s that they’re using the wrong tools (at least that’s what I hear from many small businesses).

Small businesses who don’t know where to start with marketing automation often opt for all-in-one solutions, an often overwhelming undertaking. Unfortunately, the “simplicity” of marketing suites does SMBs more harm than good. Bundled package deals trap them in a pricey, standard-issue marketing strategy using the most simplistic tools available, and SMBs can’t afford to waste resources on inadequate digital marketing.

I’m starting to see more SMBs opening their eyes to the multitude of solutions to choose from and turn to third-party platforms to build highly specialized, best-of-breed martech stacks. By weaving carefully-selected tools together, SMBs can construct an enterprise-level toolbelt that’s affordable, top-of-the-line and easy to integrate.

With a fully-loaded martech stack, any small, local business can take its digital initiatives to the next level.

Why all-in-one solutions can be harmful
It’s no surprise that many SMBs are attracted to the one-size-fits-all mantra of marketing suites. Every tool we need in one convenient place? Absolutely. This is compounded by the fact that most small business owners do their own digital marketing, and by opting for an all-in-one solution, they’re saving valuable time and energy.

What they don’t know, however, is that enterprise suites are actually hindering their digital marketing strategies. Here’s how:

  • The solutions aren’t specific. With enterprise suites, SMBs are settling for an average array of solutions. When one company is responsible for creating a multitude of marketing tools, how specialized and top-of-the-line can each one be? Many of the solutions included in enterprise suites fail in comparison to leading solutions on the market. SMBs that rely on all-in-one solutions are ignoring thousands of niche-oriented tools created by companies specializing in that tool, rather than by a platform for it to exist in.For social media management, for example, SMBs would be wise to choose a tool created by a social media management company, rather than a marketing software giant. These third-party martech tools offer better products, lightning fast customer service, and more frequent rollouts of important updates.
  • All-in-one solutions can cost more over time. Because enterprise suites promise marketers every tool they need, they can end up costing SMBs more over time. By bending over backwards to fit all-in-ones into the budget, SMBs are paying for tools they likely won’t use. That also means when an SMB finds a tool they need to add on, it becomes expensive to purchase an additional third-party solutions on top of the all-in-ones they’re already paying for.Through careful selection of martech tools and deliberate building of best-of-breed stacks, SMBs buy only what they need and what they can afford. There’s also less commitment with integrated stacks — if an SMB no longer needs its email automation solution, it can drop the provider from its stack and put the money to better use.
  • The flexibility just isn’t there. Part of running a small business is adapting to the twists and turns that arise in all aspects of the business. SMBs hoping to succeed must always be on their toes, and their marketing tools must follow suit. With all-in-ones, SMBs are stuck with a fixed set of marketing solutions. They can’t mix and match tools whenever they see fit, and in today’s ever-changing business climate, such flexibility is a prerequisite to success.With third-party solutions, however, SMBs can link a multitude of them together. As few as 4 or 5 solutions integrated with one another creates a true martech stack that can accomplish and automate multiple marketing activities. The only difference is that it’s cheaper and more specialized than a suite.

It comes as no surprise that most small business owners do their own digital marketing. After all, they lack the numerous resources and large headcounts of bigger businesses.

But what small business owners lack in staffing they make up for in ingenuity. They know their business better than some marketing departments since they’re closer to the end customer’s experience. They’re therefore more in-tune with customer preferences and are resourceful enough to select only the tools they need to catapult them to the next level of success.

When it comes to building a marketing stack, small business owners just need to trust their intuition.

Jason VandeBoom is the Founder and CEO of ActiveCampaign.