Salesforce.com added another notch to its marketing belt with the news that it had purchased email marketing and marketing automation provider ExactTarget for $2.5 billion in its biggest acquisition yet. AdExchanger reached out to several analysts and asked their thoughts on the ramifications of this deal.
“From a functionality perspective, this is deeper bench strength for Salesforce on the marketing automation side – adding more sophisticated lead management and email marketing capabilities for both B2B and B2C customers. Cloud CRM is a very competitive market and one where vendors have to continuously prove the value of what they deliver – and deliver more to justify their annual subscription bill. This gives Salesforce more stickiness on the marketing side. What Salesforce has done very well is quickly integrate acquisitions and productize them under the Salesforce umbrella (with Social.com just another example). Existing customers of both Exact Target and Salesforce will get the benefit of streamlined vendor management and deeper integration.”
“This is a very important acquisition for Salesforce.com. ExactTarget helps them fill out what they need to fulfill their objective of providing a marketing cloud to the market. It’s not Exact Target that makes this important, though. It's that Salesforce.com is grabbing a company – which could have been Marketo or Neolane, as far as I'm concerned – and adding what they weren't going to build on their platform: the traditional marketing capabilities that are needed, like email marketing, campaign management and lead management that marketers even in [the] social age need regardless of the era. This will free them up to extend their platform in other areas and...to enrich the Marketing Cloud, which, once the acquisition is completed and the applications integrated, will compete with any company out there."
“I think that existing Marketing Cloud customers get an additional choice of email providers – and, honestly, one of the better ones. So it's a great win for them. What I'm more worried about is ExactTarget's customers who are not – and likely wouldn't become – SFDC [Salesforce.com] customers. A big retailer likely doesn't need much of anything from SFDC, and the enhancements they need in ExactTarget will likely be delayed as ExactTarget moves to integrate into SFDC.”
“With Oracle snapping up Eloqua at the end of last year, and Marketo showing signs of wanting to go public a long time before they did, they [Salesforce.com] were running out of options. And options were getting costlier. So they had to make a move, and ExactTarget was a company that many analysts had picked as the best fit, especially after they bought Pardot at the end of the year, along with ExactTarget’s previous purchase of CoTweet…With respect to not going after Marketo, I think there may have been organizational/cultural reasons why that move wasn't made. They had been partners for years, and if it were to have happened, it probably would have been a couple years ago.”
“Marketing automation has been one piece of the CRM puzzle that has stood alone among specialists for a long time. It hasn’t had the expectation that it had to be part of the overall suite. As the market has evolved over time, things that were best of breed or standalone increasingly [became] pieces of functionality in the total platform, and that’s what’s happening here. For Salesforce.com’s credibility, they needed this as part of their broader platform to compete with Oracle and Microsoft.”
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