Adobe, Salesforce, Oracle, IBM – all offer derivatives of what has been termed the marketing cloud. There’s little doubt about the logic of creating an integrated platform to bring together all aspects of web and digital marketing – it’s a marketers dream.

But so far it’s a dream that is realised only for large corporations with deep pockets. So what’s on offer for smaller businesses?

Well, quite a lot, although with some obvious limitations. For example, small companies can opt for an open source WordPress website, get a Mailchimp plugin and hey presto you have an integrated CMS and E-mail platform. Cost’s can be further kept in check through a free Google Analytics account linked to an Adwords account and a free Hootsuite account for managing Social.

If you want display ads in the mix then you can find a number of smaller networks (such as Clicksor) that offer an account with no minimum spend. Woorank is attractively price for SEO and Digital Marketing training. The combination of these resources should take care of your basic marketing needs at a very fair price.

So far so good, but while these options give you some of the basic tools the big boys have, there’s a heck of a lot of passwords and no centralised functions to help you manage and monitor campaigns in an efficient way. It’s all very cumbersome and disjointed.

In terms of bringing it all together, Hubspot looks promising until you see the $2k p.a. price tag and realise it’s a relatively closed platform with noticeable gaps in paid search and display. Shift – an open source Marketing Cloud, is an interesting attempt but this seems more for marketing agencies and lacking the simplicity for small business owners.

In our view, the best solution would be to combine the most popular, low cost tools small businesses already use in an integrated, open source cloud. The subscription cost of such a platform should be competitive, but this could still be a huge prize for an innovative start-up given the vast numbers of small and micro businesses out there.

There probably already is a start-up out there right now creating a new marketing ecosystem for micro and small businesses. We think they should focus on delivering an elegant API allowing not only the integrations discussed above, but even more of your favourites such as project management (Freedcamp), CRM & Invoice (Sohoos), small business accounting (Xero), document creation and management (Google Docs) – the list goes on.

Sheer Digital look forward to the day when we can help businesses set-up a cost effective, fully integrated marketing cloud. In the meantime, we continue to offer easy, affordable and creative digital solutions for small and medium sized businesses. Get in touch to find out how we can help you on your digital journey to growth.