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On the lefthand side is a vertical node with yellow circle has a white hammer in the center of the circle. On the left is a vertical node with blue end circle with a white dollar sign in the middle. there is a "vs." in between the nodes. The background is an image of hands working at a desk with a dark purple transparent overlay.

Build vs. Buy: The Case Against Homegrown MarTech

This updated post was originally published by Iterable on January 25, 2018.

Many major consumer brands already have access to a world-class team of software developers—so when it comes to martech, it may seem like a no-brainer to invest in building your own proprietary—or homegrown—martech platform.

With engineering resources at your disposal, you could create a fully customized martech stack that’s aligned with your business needs. But is this genuinely the best way to spend your company’s R&D budget?

If marketing automation isn’t a core part of your product or service, all signs point to no.

The Odds are Stacked Against Homegrown MarTech

If you have a genuine business case for a truly disruptive digital product that will help you jump ahead of your competitors, it may be a risk worth taking, but if your R&D dollars aren’t being invested in innovative measures which position you as an industry leader, you’re likely better off looking toward commercially-available solutions.

Why is that? Let us count the ways:

  • Time and speed to market. Developing technology in-house requires significant time and resources compared to purchasing an existing solution. Every day you spend designing, developing, testing, and maintaining technology from scratch is one that could have been spent leveraging proven and mature products that can drastically reduce your time to market.
  • Cost efficiency. Time is money, of course, but it’s also costly to hire specialized talent and develop infrastructure. By buying technology instead of building it, you can avoid upfront expenses and ongoing maintenance costs, resulting in significant cost savings.
  • Support without silos. Even if a homegrown product is successful, it may rely heavily on the proprietary knowledge of its founding development team—if you lose access to that intellectual capital if they leave the company, those remaining may not be able to adequately provide ongoing support, or make the necessary updates to keep the product competitive in the market. Adopting existing solutions prevents you from creating an incredibly arduous silo inside of your own organization without realizing it.
  • Focus on core competencies. If you’re concerned about how to redeploy teams that are currently supporting homegrown products, your company would be better off diverting their attention toward your business’ unique value proposition and strategies to serve your audience. Ready-to-use solutions allow your experts to do what they do best—cater to customers’ specific needs, deliver superior experiences, and drive business growth.

The disadvantages of reinventing the wheel apply to any type of technology you build in-house, but in case you’re not yet convinced, let’s dive into the benefits of buying martech specifically.

Benefits of Buying MarTech

While the majority of brands have now recognized the importance of adopting marketing automation technology, building a homegrown martech solution may not make sense in this situation.

Here are several martech-specific factors to keep in mind when debating whether to migrate from your homegrown martech system:

  • Enhanced marketing capabilities. Best-in-class marketing automation requires a sophisticated feature set, including the ability to deploy consistent messaging across all channels, including email, mobile, web, social, and even direct mail, and to personalize that messaging to each individual subscriber.

    It must also be intuitive for your marketing team, so that you’ll feel comfortable experimenting and optimizing campaigns on your own. By maximizing your martech with robust solutions, you can drive better customer engagement, generate leads, increase conversions, and achieve your marketing goals.

  • Competitive advantage: It’s all too easy to take the path of least resistance—if your homegrown system is “good enough,” you may be less inclined to make a change. But it’s critical to fight complacency because companies that lack the speed and agility to innovate will be left in the dust.

    Leveraging cutting-edge technology can give you a competitive edge, allowing your organization to adopt the latest trends and innovations in marketing, such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and cross-channel personalization. These solutions are lightyears ahead of most homegrown products, enabling you to quickly deliver exceptional experiences that your customers demand and greatly impact your bottom line.

  • Great minds think alike: Living on an island alone is all fun and games until you’re talking to a volleyball. What we mean is, managing homegrown technology not only restricts you from gaining access to a vendor’s dedicated customer support team, but also isolates you from the wider martech network.

    Martech providers offer so many ways for you to interact with your marketing peers: live events, webinars, and communities like Iterable’s Marketing Masters. Through these opportunities, you can learn from leading experts and uplevel your own career. There’s strength in numbers, after all, so why would you ever want to go at it alone?

Turn to a Trusted Solution

In the five years since we first published this post, the world has evolved rapidly, and the costs of getting it right when it comes to the build versus buy debate are higher than ever before. Thinking only in the short-term won’t set you up for long-term success, so instead of doing it yourself and building your own martech stack, focus on doing it right by seeking out a scalable platform that serves the business needs of your brand—both now and in the future.

You’ll need a solution that can grow with your company, even if you’re starting from a relatively small subscriber base. To that end, choose a platform that will allow you to elevate your own marketing efforts from first use. Ensure that you’ve selected a platform that’s marketer-friendly, with a strong UX that will be intuitive for all of your team members to use without additional support. And make sure it can integrate with the tools that you frequently use, and can send campaigns across all the channels you currently use or plan to use in the future.

For most, once they’ve considered their business goals and weighed the short- and long-term ROI, it makes sense to select a top-notch commercially available solution. This will enable your engineering team to stop stressing about developing the best marketing automation platform—and give them the agility to focus their time on innovative projects that will help them to build the strongest possible business.

To learn how your favorite brands are delivering the cross-channel experiences that you’ve come to love, schedule an Iterable demo today.

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