Is it better to have one software platform or multiple systems connected through APIs?
Whether you’re a brand, a publisher, an agency or a network, there is one universal truth: There is an extensive range of Marketing Technology out there for you to utilise. Amazing, right?
Well yes and no. Yes, because you have a wide range of technologies available to you to help improve all aspect of your performance marketing. No, because this almost definitely requires a complicated technology stack stitched together via APIs (If you’re not connecting them in this way that is an entirely separate and equally troublesome issue in itself!)
In certain scenarios, a single piece of technology may well be enough to achieve the same results as multiple systems. But this is not always the “ideal solution.” In this blog, we’ll explore the Pros and Cons of each system, and offer suggestions where one may be a better choice than the other.
A LOOK AT USING MULTIPLE TYPES OF SOFTWARE
Let us start with a tech stack scenario that a lot of marketers will be working with. It’s fairly simple, but generally it involves 3, or sometimes 4 different software platforms to bring together. It’s the typical Performance Marketing / Lead Generation tool kit:
- Landing Page
- Affiliate Tracking
- Lead Management / Distribution
It’s a familiar scene. Traffic is driven to the landing page via PPC, Social, Affiliates, Native etc. The Affiliate Tracking is measuring impressions and clicks and firing conversion pixels (this is usually what the affiliate is paid on) and the Lead Management / Distribution platform is storing, possibly validating and nurturing, but ultimately distributing the lead where it needs to go (a call centre, another MarTech platform, a field sales team etc.)
Most companies running this tech stack utilise 3 different platforms for each of the elements. There are a few immediate issues you can pick out as potential challenges:
- Multiple systems to learn
- Disparate systems to connect with APIs
- Several systems to pay
When starting out a lot of companies solve their problems in the fastest and seemingly cheapest way possible. Over time this can lead them to one of the biggest issues to growing a company – Using multiple standalone systems to carry out a single goal in an ad hoc manner.
A typical example would be reporting. Most companies don’t combine the reporting from each system, they’ll use one as the entity they pull the stats from which means they’re potentially missing key stats from the other systems. Even worse, they’ll not be doing any reporting and only explore their performance in the event of issues. The reason for this is primarily that if you’re going to pull the reporting from each of the systems and combine them to get an entire view of performance across your marketing stack, you’ll need to license another piece of software to do it, potentially compounding the other issues.
Mistakes can be made when connecting APIs between separate systems. Even the biggest companies sometimes get it wrong and the results can impact a company in a number of ways. Data can be leaked which can result in data compliance issues, such as GDPR. In addition to this is the lack of standardisation with APIs. Some can require coding, others can leave traces of your data in web browsers. The problem is that big that there are companies who build their entire business by being able to connect disparate systems via them to their APIs – Another system to add to your marketing stack!
However, it’s not all downsides, there can be positives from having disparate systems connected via APIs:
- You can handpick the software you want to use
- You can easily replace any element of the software
- You may not have to be as committed as you would with single system
A LOOK AT USING A UNIFIED PLATFORM
What about a single system to manage the same processes? Why is it that within the B2C world - at least in comparison with B2B industry standards - a unified software platform is, as yet, a relative outlier?
Perhaps the idea of committing to a full system seems overwhelming? Perhaps the transition of switching seems complicated? Perhaps performance marketers within the B2C world operate upon a fundamentally more granular level - or at least begin that way and become set in their ways too firmly, too soon?
Is the answer as simple as saying performance marketers within the B2C world lack the same discipline and commitment as those operating business to business? To us, that seems a lazy conclusion, but the following data certainly suggests the primary barrier to switching to marketing automation - and consequently improving your performance - can be overcome with a mixture of knowledge, hard work and ambition.
“The lack of expertise and know-how (55.6 %), as well as lack of human resources (48.1 %) are most common reasons why companies are not using marketing automation”. – Liana “The Benefits and Challenges of Marketing Automation” (2017)
It is difficult to address why a unified system for landing pages, lead management and affiliate tracking is not, as yet, the industry standard. However, by looking at the pros of this system, we can perhaps start to give the question a wider audience?
The benefits of a unified system, include:
- Lower costs
- No technical integrations needed
- Bridge data gaps
- Get complete real-time visibility
- Keep all data from all elements together
By selecting a unified and flexible martech solution combined with implementation and operational support by performance marketing experts, risks will be greatly minimised, costs are controlled and any process mistakes will be easy to fix.
Perhaps the granular nature of the existing B2C Performance Marketing paradigm is down to ambition (or a lack thereof) - but let us, for a second, look again at the unified martech systems we see in the B2B world - Hubspot, SalesForce, Zoho etc and question why that option is not universally adopted by the most dedicated and ambitious B2C performance marketers. Given the obvious benefits, is now the time to make a switch to a unified marketing technology solution? Is now the time to lead the way in pursuing a more committed, commercial and technically proficient solution?
For certain individuals and teams, a non unified solution is perfect and we are not trying to remove everyone away from that, but simply ask why a unified solution is currently so under deployed? Each business must find a bespoke solution to their own needs, the point of this blog was simply to open up the options and get you thinking about the Pros and Cons of both models.
Speak to one of our experts to find out whether a non unified, or unified solution is right for you.