It’s official. We may have too many tools in digital marketing now.

Do this if you don’t believe me:

FIRST Download the Ghostery browser extension:

THEN Go to the website of a leading competitor in your industry and watch the little ghostery icon on the right side of your browser count the number of 3rd party tools and extensions that are there. Here’s what ghostery told me about a major competitor of a client of ours – there are 62 tools, extensions, 3rd party scripts, marketing automation modules or whatever running on this website! 62!

Quickly examining the tools used by this very successful mattress retailer and e-commerce site, the types of tools can be broken down into the following categories:

  1. Online Advertising Tools that are designed to help advertising and media exposure within the UX (about 20 being used on this site)
  2. Personalization tools – tools that are installed in order to best personalize the user experience for a customer (including 3rd party site search) (about 4 being used on this site)
  3. Behavioral / Segmentation Widgets (at least 7 being used)
  4. Analytics tools – tools used to track number and types of users, channels and more (at least 3 being used)

There are also assorted Beacons, Widgets, and Players that are integrated into the site.

There is no doubt that while many of these tools provide a lot of data and can be valuable, there are costs associated. While some are “free”, analyzing the data to get insights and managing them takes effort. Also, we see duplication and complexity which can needlessly add to site performance issues and additional time spent by the management team monitoring and analyzing the performance of all of the tools.

How many tools are some of the perceived “leaders” in B2C e-commerce utilizing?

  • L.L. Bean: 28
  • J Crew: 22
  • Amazon: 17
  • Crutchfield: 7
  • Best Buy: 14
  • Expedia: 28
  • 30
  • Home Depot: 14

How many tools is too many?

Every business is different, but the answer is probably pretty simple: If you’re not using it, get rid of it. And, as more and more tools become available, make sure you have actual human beings on your team members to observe and analyze the data that each tool generates and results that they deliver.

The Bottom Line
Tool proliferation on e-commerce sites can have performance and cost impacts. When analyzing your site, make sure that you only have tools that you need and ones that you can effectively manage. Base performance using a truly detailed and balanced scorecard that has the success metrics that are most appropriate to your business.