Marketing automation "all-in-one" vs. "best of breed" solutions

By Noa Eshed
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Staying ahead of the game and finding solutions that support your marketing strategy can get challenging. Some solutions might seem an overkill, while others may seem superficial. Breaking down what you identify as a need and finding the ultimate solution/s can make or break your Inbound Marketing strategy. There is no conclusive answer, it sums down to your business goals and overall marketing strategy. Here's how to identify whether you need a marketing automation "all-in-one" solution or a "best of breed" solution.

1. Setting the stage - terminology 

Here are the main terms to understand:

"Best of breed" - this refers to solutions aimed at solving one challenge. For example, a tool that helps you convert leads into customers by sending them automatic nurturing emails.

"All-in-one" – this refers to solutions that aim to provide one holistic place for solving different challenges.

"Inbound Marketing" - the inbound methodology is broadly divided into four stages:

  1. Attract
  2. Convert
  3. Close
  4. Delight

inbound marketing methodology: strangers to visitors to leads to customers to promoters

The idea is to turn strangers --> visitors --> leads --> customers --> promoters

You do so by targeting buyer personas, creating online campaigns to drive qualified traffic to your blog, converting that traffic to leads using landing pages and content offers, nurturing the best leads into sales and finally retaining those customers.

Marketing automation solutions are required for each stage of the inbound methodology.

Not all companies need a holistic solution for all of the stages. Sometimes point "best of breed" solutions are the right way to go. It depends on what stage of the inbound methodology you need a solution for. HubSpot is the only tool that provides a full solution for all four stage of the Inbound Methodology. Prices begin at 200USD/mo with an Enterprise package costing 2,400USD/mo. It could be an overkill if your company only needs a solution for specific stages of the methodology. It could also not be good enough for enterprises who identify their main challenge as lead nurturing. So, let's evaluate.

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2. Which stage of the inbound methodology do you need a solution for?

1. Attract ->

The goal of this stage is to attract relevant buyer personas to your website by publishing content that is of value to them. At this stage the content is such that educates your prospects and does not suggest solutions or propose your services. Your prospects are an a very initial research stage and are not ready to be sold to.

Required tools:

Blog/ Content Management System­­ – your content needs a home. In order to write, publish and update content you'll need to use a content management system. By publishing your own blog, you are creating a long- term asset that when done right, will generate relevant traffic. Note that guest writing for other's companies' blogs, but make sure you are also creating a content garden of your own to water.

Best of breed CMS solution: WordPress is hands down the safest most solution in the CMS domain. If you're interested in exploring others, here's Capterra's ranking of top CMSs.

Costs: the most popular CMS solutions are free. You'll need to pay third parties for hosting, domain and if relevant - CSS editing.

SEO Tools for onsite optimization - you'll need make sure that your content is optimized so that it will show up in SERPS (Search Engine Result Pages) when your buyer personas are searching for relevant keywords. Otherwise your efforts for the attraction stage of the inbound methodology will be lost in the land of faraway result pages that no man has ever stepped on (yes, you can use PPC to bypass this obstacle, but in the long run, you'll want organic traffic).

Best of breed solution: Yoast SEO is a wordpress plugin that you can easily install on your blog in order to optimize your content for SEPRS. If you'd like to dive a little deeper -  here are 7 quick onsite SEO blog optimization tips.

Costs: Yoast offer a free version which won't suffice. The premium price for one year varies between 60USD a year for one site, to 1,499USD a year for up to 200 sites.

Social Media Updates/Monitoring – utilize social media to spread the word about your content, grow a following and generate traffic to your blog. This can be done manually, yet there's only so much you can do without automation. Publishing remarkable content (never take your foot off the quality gas) to multiple accounts and groups can be a very effective way to attract your target personas.

Best of breed solution: Hootsuite is a social media software which is the tier 1 of its breed. Its interface isn't very friendly, but what it lacks for in its interface, it makes up for in endless social media features.

Costs: The monthly subscription for Hootsuite is free and for less than 3 profiles. For over 3 profiles the cost is $9.99 a month.

2. Convert ->

On this stage your goal is to capture the information of those visitors who are reading your content, thereby turning them into leads. The best way to go about that is by inviting them to download a special content offer by clicking on an intriguing CTA. The CTA will send them to a landing page where they will be asked to provide info you'd like to capture in return for them receiving the offer. A content offer could be an ebook, whitepaper, infographic, template, or any other information which you believe would add value and establish your brand's authority, thereby pushing them towards the next steps of the buyer's journey.

Required tools:

Landing Pages with Lead Capture Forms – these are the page where your visitors will land on from your blog after requesting to receive a content offer. There are several best practices to follow in order to create converting landing pages. Make sure you are using a software that will enable you to follow best practices.

Best of breed solutions: Pagewiz and Unbounce are professional WYSIWYG solutions which enable creating landing pages easily without needing to know a word of code.

Costs: Pagewiz costs 29USD/mo, Unbounce costs 49USD/mo. Both offer a free 30 day trial.

  1. Close ->
On this stage the goal is to nurture your incoming leads into customers. The main focus at this stage is to establish further trust, add further value, get the prospect to consider your offered solution and then decide to buy your solution from you. Quite a significant stage.

Required tools:

Drip marketing / automated email software – emails play a significant role in any sales cycles which requires nurturing. When dealing with a high volume of leads, it's a good idea to create drips that will automatically send personalized emails to leads upon trigger events such as inviting them to download a template a few days post downloading an ebook, inviting them to a free demo and so on.

Best of breed solutions: MailChimp provide a friendly and convenient solution for creating automatic drips. Mailchimps features are limited. In order to create sophisticated workflows based on indepth logic and behavioral patterns and lead scoring, you will need to pull out the big guns. The ultimate solutions for sophisticated workflows are Eloqua and Marketo. The cons of the latter are their complex integration. The pros are their level of detail and features. If you are looking to nurture leads for an enterprise, and have no problem with the earlier stages of the inbound methodology - they might be the right way to go. 

Costs: Mailchimp starts off for free and get up to 199USD/mo depending on your number of contacts. Eloqua and Marketo are enterprise solutions with starting costs of approx. 2000USD/mo.  

4. Delight ->

On this stage your goal is to delight your customers, reduce your churn rate and turn your customers to ambassadors. Generally speaking the idea is to keep on providing added value, educating and attending your customers' needs. Marketing automation can help greatly in that respect as well.

Required tools:

Drip marketing / automated email software – let your customers know their opinion matters. Send them triggered follow up emails requesting their feedback after conducting certain actions. Re-engage with them after set times of inactivity. Send them coupons and loyalty rewards. And so on.

Best of breed solutions are the same here as in the "close" stage.

Summing things up

Taking a best of breed approach could be a good idea in cases where you need a point solution for isolated stages of the inbound methodology.

Enterprise solutions such as Marketo and Eloqua should be considered in cases where an enterprise identifies their main challenge in nurturing leads.

HubSpot is the best solution for companies who need a holistic solution for all stages of the inbound methodology.

If you've got any questions or comments, do give me shout out.

If you found this useful, and you're curious to learn more about marketing automation, I invite you to download our Key beneficial aspects of marketing automation eBook:

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About Noa Eshed

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Noa is the co-author of the Amazon no.1 Bestseller "The Smart Marketer's Guide to Google AdWords" and co-host of the podcast "Real Life Superpowers". She's a content lover, certified journalist & lawyer (Hebrew U). She practices martial arts & yoga. She's been consulting and helping businesses create a significant presence online since 2010.

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