Marketing Cloud Platforms: build, buy or make?

Today, the dig­i­tal is at the heart of all mar­ket­ing activ­i­ties and, in order to make it live, com­pa­nies need more and more often to invest in a tech­no­log­ic plat­form to cre­ate, launch, track and analyse their cam­paigns and inter­ac­tions with their audi­ences. When select­ing this plat­form, they over­all have three options, which cor­re­spond to three visions, three philoso­phies: to build, to buy or to make.

This triple approach is well sum­ma­rized in this info­graph­ic pub­lished by Martech Advi­sor.

1. Devel­op its own Mar­ket­ing Cloud platform

Some com­pa­nies, which are often pure dig­i­tal play­ers, or big com­pa­nies with a mas­sive IT depart­ment which is used to devel­op their own tools, decide to build entire­ly their own mar­ket­ing plat­form. Very often, they choose to do so because they are afraid not to con­trol total­ly their plat­form, and they want to have the upper hand with all the tools, and have a 100% cus­tom solution.
How­ev­er, this option often proves to be extreme­ly com­pli­cat­ed because it is not their job, and that these com­pa­nies gen­er­al­ly do not have the means to invest as much, either finan­cial­ly or in terms of labour, than a major pub­lish­er. Adobe spends every year around 400 mil­lions of dol­lars in Research & Devel­op­ment: which com­pa­ny could do the same for inter­nal tools? If I take anoth­er exam­ple I like to use, it would not occur to any cre­ative agency to devel­op “its own” Pho­to­shop: too long, too expen­sive, less effi­cient … Why would any com­pa­ny want to do the oppo­site when talk­ing about Ana­lyt­ics, DMP, cam­paign man­age­ment, CMS?

2. Assem­ble dif­fer­ent “point solu­tions” together

The oth­er solu­tion often cho­sen is the assem­bly of dif­fer­ent bricks, dif­fer­ent “point solu­tion”, which offer a solu­tion to a spe­cif­ic prob­lem. This choice is usu­al­ly made assum­ing that it will allow com­pa­nies to enjoy the best of what the mar­ket has to offer for each of the mar­ket­ing dimen­sions and sub-dimen­sions. In real­i­ty, the assem­bly work requires to con­nect all kinds of soft­ware from dif­fer­ent ven­dors, which is a mon­u­men­tal work and can present many chal­lenges of integration.

Even though we used to talk about the TCO (Total Cost of Own­er­ship) to eval­u­ate the cost of a tool, now the TCS (Total Cost of Ser­vice) is more and more used, which is an indi­ca­tor that also incor­po­rates all the relat­ed costs, such as con­nect­ing the tools, main­te­nance, etc. We then real­ize that a choice that was sup­posed to rep­re­sent a sav­ing, often proves to be much more expen­sive and time-con­sum­ing at the end. Thus, it is not uncom­mon for com­pa­nies to end up chang­ing their minds, even if it means keep­ing one of these bricks that maybe be miss­ing on an inte­grat­ed platform.

3. Buy an inte­grat­ed Mar­ket­ing Cloud platforms

These plat­forms rep­re­sent a range of inte­grat­ed and uni­fied solu­tions, in which each com­pa­ny can man­age all the dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing dimen­sions. Few clients will buy straight away all the options: most of the time, they choose to make the plat­form evolve accord­ing to their needs, while hav­ing a uni­fied base, designed to facil­i­tate the IT manager’s and Mar­ket­ing Director’s life.

The big advan­tage of this option is that com­pa­nies can ben­e­fit from an all-in-one solu­tion, bring­ing togeth­er all the tools in one place, and thus enabling pro­duc­tiv­i­ty gains. Some peo­ple are afraid that these plat­forms are closed and do not allow con­nec­tions to oth­er par­ty solu­tions: in real­i­ty, there is no need to be wor­ried, as, in fact, these solu­tions are always open to the outside.

Any­way, this choice is a strate­gic one, as it affects finances in the long term, and proves cru­cial in terms of mar­ket­ing strat­e­gy. This is about defin­ing your vision for the busi­ness, in which direc­tion you want to go, and which part­ners I want sup­port from so that my strat­e­gy is fea­si­ble and real­ized. Very often, the com­pa­ny alone does not make this choice, but with the help of a con­sul­tan­cy firm, which will help in iden­ti­fy­ing the best mar­ket­ing solution.

What about you, what did you choose for your busi­ness, and what were the rea­sons that led you there? Feel free to dis­cuss the sub­ject in the comments!