Marketing Cloud Alternatives: When You Want the Features, not the Headaches

For all those marketers searching for marketing cloud alternatives, it’s a bit confusing, right? I mean, we’re talking about huge Fortune 100 companies that have been around for years and so well-known that people make memes about using them. Yet marketers have experienced so many headaches that they are actively seeking out marketing cloud alternatives instead.

I suspect it’s because marketers want to be able to do what the big marketing clouds promise without having to work so hard and pay so much to do so. They want the features, but they do not want the headaches that come with implementing or using those features. And they’re at the point when they realize they need to forgo the promises of these “integrated” solutions, and seek out exactly what they do need, like email marketing technologies they can manage on their own.

And so they search for marketing cloud alternatives.

Why marketing clouds frustrate email marketers
If you’re looking for marketing cloud alternatives, that’s probably because you still want to do what you thought you’d be able to do when you invested in a marketing cloud in the first place. But you no longer want to use a marketing cloud behemoth to do it because, quite frankly, you can’t.

You’re not alone!

As someone who has spent the past two decades in the email marketing technology industry, I can tell you this conundrum is nothing new. Ever since these large companies started buying up marketing services such as email service providers (ESPs) to supposedly bundle them together, marketers have bought in to the promise that all the capabilities they wanted would be integrated together seamlessly, allowing them to capitalize on data, and break down silos.

But as these large companies added email service providers to their offering, the result was a dramatic increase in complexity and cost—without a corresponding dramatic increase in capability or results. And this was true of most of the technologies cobbled together to make a “cloud.”

Why people search for marketing cloud alternatives
The problems that drive people to search for marketing cloud alternatives are many and well-documented. Only go online and read through discussions and you’ll quickly understand the level of frustration people are experiencing.

The frustrations are the result of unfulfilled promises and unexpected costs. I’ve talked to countless marketers who want the features they thought a marketing cloud would offer, but not the headaches they ended up with, headaches like:

  • A solution so complex that even the most basic change has to be done by an expert
  • Having to pay for every little extra when they thought it was covered by the original cost
  • And to top it off, frustration with bad support, including premium support for a fee

When marketers start searching for something else, however, they often have a fear of switching. Or, if they aren’t switching—only avoiding the big marketing clouds—they fear the unknown. Because that is one thing the big marketing clouds offer: a big brand. Marketers are afraid choosing one of the marketing cloud alternatives means compromising and losing out on the integration and ease they were promised—even if they didn’t get it.

Because the complexity might be maddening, but some hang on, hoping the huge investment in a marketing cloud will someday deliver what the marketer wants.

The marketing cloud alternative is whatever you need it to be
In truth, however, other solutions are much more likely to deliver on those features minus the cost and complexity, and they’re not cloud offerings. If you stop considering only marketing cloud solutions and look to vendors specializing in your specific needs instead, you’ll find marketing technologies and vendors have evolved to offer sophisticated and often comparable capabilities.

If you’re doing email marketing for example, iPost can handle all the enterprise level complexity you throw at it, and you won’t have to rebuild the automated messages and triggered emails you’ve worked so hard to set up if you leave your marketing cloud behind: They will migrate over.

Marketers also struggle to believe that they can pay less money yet still get the functionality they want. Guess what? You can. An ESP like iPost lets you set up your email marketing program to be as sophisticated as you want it to be, with access to all of your data all of the time, for less than the cost of one of the big marketing clouds.

And no, you won’t get charged for every little thing after paying the base price. This is typically true of all the vendors who are your marketing cloud alternative.

Other benefits to abandoning the marketing clouds
When you realize the cobbled together “solutions” offered by marketing clouds don’t deliver, and you choose instead to work with the specific vendors you need, you reap other benefits beyond escaping from the cost, complexities and headaches of the cloud. These benefits include:

  • Better service—It’s like banking with a huge corporate bank vs. banking at your local credit union. The local credit union will give you personalized and responsive service that the behemoth bank simply can’t.
  • Better technology—The big marketing clouds might be called “clouds,” but they are more like mud when it comes to keeping technology up-to-date. On the other hand, smaller specialized companies are extremely agile. At iPost, we push out new code weekly. Because the smaller companies are only focused on their specialty, they can do it better and faster.
  • More transparency—At iPost, our clients can access our roadmap and know our plans for the future, and that’s typical of other marketing technology vendors as well.
  • Tighter integration—The original premise behind the marketing cloud was everything in one place, but you’ll find plenty of vendors have stayed specialized yet built tight integrations with the other technologies their clients need. You might not get the full suite promised by the marketing clouds, but you’ll get what you need—and that’s a key difference.

I wrote about the difference between marketing cloud solutions and best-in-breed choices back in 2018. Everything I said then holds true today. I called it best-in-breed back then and the term still applies. Because you are better off with the best vendors in the technologies you need, not a muddled cloud of clunky technologies quickly aging out and costing you time and money.

If you want the features but not the headaches, maybe your marketing cloud alternative isn’t a marketing cloud at all.