Marketing For Health & Wellness

All in One Marketing Tools are BS

all in one marketing tools

“He who chases two rabbits catches none.” 

“All in one” marketing platforms are software tools that offer multiple functions within one tool. Think email marketing, social media posting and management, CRM, website editing, and more – all in one place. 

While it’s easy to understand the value proposition for an all in one tool, my sincere belief is that they are largely ineffective. I can’t say I have seen an ”all in one marketing platform“ yet that is greater than the sum of disparate parts, and I’ve been in marketing nearly twenty years.

For the most part, I’ve seen these platforms are just money pits. They promise a lot, do nothing well, and keep businesses trapped in their ecosystem.

All In One Marketing Tools Are Bs

The Allure of All-in-One Tools

It’s easy to understand why these tools exist – as a business grows, it does get messy to have a handful of different tools, where customer data gets siloed, and insights aren’t surfaced for you to see and take action on. Or, if you’re starting a new business, it can be overwhelming to even understand what a marketing stack IS or what marketing tools you even need. 

These platforms market themselves as a one-stop shops – where you can capture leads, attract new customers, and scale your business. Sounds too good to be true, right?

The Reality: Challenges and Limitations

“He who chases two rabbits catches none.” 

A business owner or inexperienced marketer doesn’t know what they don’t know. This means that they might have a very limited grasp of what marketing is, how to approach it strategically, and what tools they need in order to put that strategy into action. 

So of course, it’s understandable that getting a toolbox with every conceivable tool in it is appealing. They don’t know which tools they might need, so may as well pick up the full set just in case.

The reality is that when you try to consolidate different tools into one toolbox, you need to make those tools more user-friendly, more generic, more fitting for any kind of handyman using that tool. You lose precision and you lose efficacy. 

That’s the tradeoff. By building a tool that fits any kind of business, you build a tool that while it can “do everything”, it doesn’t do anything very well. 

Everyone is Different

Every business is different. Even two businesses in the same industry or even the same niche (i.e. a roofing company) will have different needs. A roofing company in a small, rural town of 45,000 people will need to rely much more heavily on networking, community involvement, and out of home or physical marketing. A roofing company in a metro area with millions of residents would find it impossible to afford even a single billboard – so they need tactics like Search Engine Optimization or referral programs. 

However, with an all in one marketing platform, both the rural business and the metro business will be paying for marketing tools they won’t use. 

A lot of these platforms promise big savings when you add up all the disparate marketing tools and their costs, but what they leave out is the reality that most businesses will not need or use all of the features.

Here’s an example from HighLevel, that they list on their homepage:

All In One Marketing Tools Are Bs

Seems like a great deal, right? You’re saving $6,814 a month!

But wait a second… if you add up all the line items above “White Labeled Desktop App”, that actually only adds up to $1,612. The “$5K + $499/Monthly” is not actually included in HighLevel’s $297/month pricing, as it’s an Optional Add-On.

So your overall savings is now down to $1,315 a month. Still, $1,315 is greater than $297. It’s simple math.

But let’s say your website builder is WordPress. This is statistically likely, as 42.4% of all websites are powered by WordPress (and the percentage increases the smaller in size the business is). 

WordPress can also do sales funnels, surveys, courses, and communities. If we take those off, that’s a savings of $584/month, and now we’re down to just $1,028 per month for all those tools above. 

But wait, there’s more!

Reputation management is free – manually checking and responding to your Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Angi, or HomeAdvisor reviews does not become untenable until you are serving a thousand customers a week.  

Tracking and analytics is also free via Google Analytics and Google Search Console. 

So let’s take off reputation management and tracking. We’re down to just $570 per month, and that’s leaving in things like “SMS marketing” and “document signing” which not every business needs. 

I also have question marks about the “workflow automations”, but we can leave that in for now. Most tools easily integrate and automate with others, and if you pay a developer ONCE, you can use an automation forever without paying monthly. (I’ll talk about how we did this later on.)

But here’s that chart again, with the extraneous stuff edited out:

All In One Marketing Tools Are Bs

Paints a bit of a different picture, doesn’t it? 

Integration Issues

One of the issues with these holistic platforms is, well, when they have issues.

If the whole platform is having a tech problem, your entire marketing (or business) stack will be ground to a halt. https://ideas.gohighlevel.com/automations/p/overall-speedperformance-updates 

Specialized, individualized marketing software companies have very open APIs and integrate well with other tools – because they have to. If they are focused or siloed on one aspect or purpose, they need to be able to talk to other tools. 

However, these ‘all in one’ tools don’t have that same market pressure. They can decide how nice they want to play with other platforms. And often, they choose not to.

Flexibility and Scalability

Businesses are living, breathing things. (Any business owner will understand this – they’re like babies. They need constant attention, you’re never really sure why they’re upset, and they are different every single day). Especially in the startup to early stages to mid-maturity, there are exponential differences in the way a company needs to operate, market, and manage its data and reporting. 

Getting locked into an all-in-one tool is a surefire way to hamper flexibility and scalability. By utilizing an array of different tools, it’s much easier to swap one out when you’ve outgrown it, leaving the rest of your business and marketing engine intact and running. 

How does this really play out?

Recently, I was on a call with a client who was onboarding an “all in one“ software tool. This tool promised to handle incoming leads, manage contacts and customers, send emails, schedule social media posts, invoice, do analytics, and wash and wax their cars every weekend.

This tool had social media scheduling and calendaring built in. Seems great, right? Except it required us to publish all social media posts through the tool in order to get analytics across all our channels and posts.

If we posted something natively, meaning directly to Facebook or Instagram instead of this “all in one” tool, (while, say, out in the field or on a job, something that’s common for trades businesses), it wasn’t able to pull that data back in from the social media channels into its platform. So our analytics would not be complete. It would be missing posts and data.

For businesses that aren’t very tech-savvy, they may not think this is a big deal. But what’s really going on behind the scenes, is that the company didn’t want to pay for an upgraded API to have a two-way conversation with the social media platforms so that posts made natively would come back into their tool.

This lack of functionality just came down to them being cheap. Other, specialized social media tools like Hootsuite, SproutSocial, or Sprinklr would be able to pull those native posts in and report on everything holistically, no matter where a post was posted from.

So my client was now hamstrung by this platform’s cheapness. Their team in the field was never going to log in to this random tool to post – so we had to abandon the social media aspect of the tool entirely and just use the native platforms. When it was time for monthly reporting, we had to pull the data manually, which easily took 3x longer than if we had been able to use a reporting dashboard.

Stuck in the Slow Lane

Here’s another example of a tool’s shortcomings. A client happily set up and onboarded an all in one platform, with the sales people touting ’emails’ as a way to market to their customers. 

Once they got onboarded, however, they realized that the platform would send emails – but only one-off, one-time broadcast emails. More advanced email marketing like automations or triggers based on behaviors was an expensive upcharge. C’est la vie with these people.

Trapping your business in a platform behaves like a goldfish – you will expand to fit the container you’re given. Specialized tools for data analytics, CRM, website optimization engines are constantly adding new features and staying on the cutting-edge of their niche. They have to, to stay competitive in the marketplace. By using specialized tools, you will have access and exposure to new ideas and features that may not have crossed your radar.

An all-in-one platform has to adopt new features and changes slowly. Their codebase is more complex, more interwoven, and they need to optimize performance. Rolling out cutting edge techniques is not in their best interest. Their best interest is waiting years for that feature to become mainstream, for their customers to then demand and ask for it, and for them to spend months or years to finally add it to their platform.

Even something as simple as an Instagram Story – these types of posts caught on and soon became one of the primary ways Instagram users use the app. (Seriously, there are users who ONLY watch Stories and never scroll their feed or watch Reels).

The specialized social media tools adopted the ability to post to Stories pretty quickly. Some of the all-in-one platforms still don’t have this functionality enabled.

Over months and years, this can grind away at how your business operates and markets itself, and keep the business stuck using tactics that are outdated or increasingly ineffective. That adds up over time. The couple hundred dollars’ a month cost savings quickly disappears.

An Alternative Approach

I don’t mean to be overly harsh on these platforms. Their value proposition is clear and understandable: to make the intimidating prospect of searching for, selecting, buying, setting up, and using multiple tools a simple one-stop-shop.

For more traditional businesses that aren’t in tech – like accounting, manufacturing, or trades businesses – they don’t have exposure to the different options that are out there. They get a cold call one day from an all-in-one platform offering to make their confusing tech mess go away. Many don’t even know what to look for in the first place.

What are my recommendations for MOST smaller businesses? Business owners are constantly asking me “what tool should I use for X?” They get anxious about having the best one. The answer is, if the tool has been around long enough, it’s going to be pretty similar to its mature competitors. Unless you truly have a specialized need, you won’t really notice or need a difference in them.

That being said, here are some recommendations:

1. A CRM – if you’re small enough, start with a spreadsheet. Then you can migrate to something like Freshsales. Don’t go down the HubSpot path for as long as you can – once you’re on it, you’re on it. HubSpot is absolutely appropriate for a lot of businesses but it’s like a marriage, it’s a lifelong commitment. At least until you divorce them to upgrade to your second spouse, Salesforce.

2. Email marketing tool – Klaviyo, ActiveCampaign, Mailchimp. All email tools essentially do the same thing.

3. Social media tool – depending on how active you need to be on social media, just use the native platforms themselves. If it starts getting complex and you need inbox management / customer service features, migrate to a Hootsuite or Sprout Social. Again, they are all pretty much the same.

4. Website – WordPress or Shopify. Squarespace and Wix are cute and fine for single-page, simple websites, but for anything more robust, go with the tried-and-true.

5. Analytics and Reporting – you will look at your numbers, right? Google Analytics is free and comprehensive. Set up Google Tag Manager on your site, install your necessary pixels there, and make sure you also enable Google Search Console.

What about having all these tools talk to each other? This is very simply done with either native connections built-in to these tools, or with an API integrator like Zapier or If This Then That. 

My REAL recommendation is to hire an automation engineer from upwork or your personal network and pay for a few hours of their time to create your own custom integrations. That way, you’ll pay once and not every month like with Zapier.

Here’s an example for us at Arnold Marketing Consultants:

My project manager does capacity planning for our team every two weeks (at the start of our sprints). This is where she looks at their available hours to work, and how much work we have to do, and sees how to best allocate and assign that work. One of the issues she was running into was pulling in their meetings (whether internally or with clients). She was manually going to their calendars and entering these events in to our project management tool, which took her about 5 hours each time.

I hired an automation engineer to take a look and see if we could integrate their calendars with our project management tool (Google Calendar <> ClickUp). I paid for about 5 hours of their time, and now my project manager just presses a button and all the meetings are entered into ClickUp, tagged properly, and assigned time estimates. We save 10 hours a month ($350 of monthly labor) thanks to this one-time project.

Do the Right Way, Not the Easy Way

Alright, let’s land this plane. We’ve been circling the concept of all-in-one marketing platforms like a dog chasing its tail. Seductive, sure. Efficient? Not in your wildest dreams. These platforms are like the buffet at the Bellagio: looks appetizing, but leaves you bloated and with a mild sense of regret.

These jack-of-all-trades tools are masters of none. It’s Economics 101: specialization leads to efficiency. 

You wouldn’t expect a general practitioner to perform open-heart surgery. So why would you expect a one-stop-shop tool to deliver the nuanced, tailored marketing strategy your business deserves?

The digital landscape is Darwinian, not a socialist utopia. Each business is a unique ecosystem, requiring its own diet, climate, and survival strategies. 

Forcing a one-size-fits-all solution onto your business is ineffective and often counterproductive.

The smarter move? A bespoke set of tools. Yes, it requires more upfront legwork. But we’re in the age of Big Data and AI – customization is not a luxury, it’s a necessity that’s easier to access than ever. Like assembling a master craftsman’s toolbox, every tool should be picked for a specific job, playing to its strengths.

So, cut the cord on the all-in-one dream. It’s a mirage. Invest in tools that align with your business’s actual needs. It’s not just about being different; it’s about being strategically, intelligently different. That’s how you build a brand. That’s how you win.

In conclusion, stop chasing the convenience unicorn. Embrace the chaos. Lean into the complexity. Your business isn’t generic; your marketing tools shouldn’t be either. Remember, in the world of commerce, fortune favors the bold, not the indiscriminate.

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