Industry Reaction: Acquires ExactTarget 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.


Rebecca Wettemann, vice president, Nucleus Research

“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 just another example).  Existing customers of both Exact Target and Salesforce will get the benefit of streamlined vendor management and deeper integration.”

Paul Greenberg, president, The 56 Group

“This is a very important acquisition for 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 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.”

Robert Brosnan, principal analyst, Forrester Research

“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 [] 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.”

Brent Leary, partner, CRM Essentials

“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 [] 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.”

Mary Wardley, vice president, Enterprise Applications and CRM software, IDC

“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’s credibility, they needed this as part of their broader platform to compete with Oracle and Microsoft.”

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  1. It’s a great move by Salesforce, one that is guaranteed to provide success and more profit. Marketing Automation is so under-emphasized when it comes to the big players in CRM. Oracle’s acquisition of Eloqua speaks the same. Smaller ones are catching up fast. Agile CRM(currently in beta) is aimed at small businesses and combines marketing/email automation along with the CRM itself. Agile will easily be lapped up by small and medium sized businesses because of the low cost and availability of features. Salesforce should have taken this step a long time ago.

    Besides, the presence of Pardot and iGoDigital in the ExactTarget package will provide much value to the company and its customers. I’m quite sure there’s going to be a large migration of users from Marketo, HubSpot, and the like.

  2. Adam Shahbaz

    It’s not a solid move, but I wouldn’t call it a “great move”. Marketing automation is a clear missing piece of the Salesforce stack so their pursuit of somebody in the space was obvious. And if they wanted to pick up a company that was already scaled up, there wasn’t much of an option besides ET (which probably explains the 10% premium they paid on the stock).

    What I think is surprising is that they chose to grab a player that’s scaled up already. Most of the Marketing Automation space is really focused on email, and email itself is primed for major disruption (think: dropbox acquisition of Mailbox, not to mention Google v/ Facebook in the messaging wars). I’m a little surprised SF didn’t decide to outflank the competition and grab a smaller player positioned for high-growth. Although they still can reach for a smaller player and leverage ET’s client base to scale the tech out (particularly for mobile), they might have been able to get a better deal on ET if they did it the other way around and posed a disruptive threat with some newer tech. For example, a company like SailThru might have been an interesting choice (

    Anyway, maybe that’s splitting hairs. Great story for the marketing industry!