In a move which would surprise only the most unobservant of software analysts, Salesforce has acquired ExactTarget for a reported $2.5 billion.
Salesforce’s acquisition of ExactTarget is a continuation of the trend we detailed last year in which we observed a sharp increase rise in acquisitions in the marketing automation space.
Towards the end of 2012, ExactTarget bolstered its B2B offering by acquiring marketing automation platform, Pardot. This mirrored moves by the likes of Eloqua and Marketo who have made similar overtures towards B2C opportunities.
In acquiring ExactTarget, Salesforce continues its march to dominate the CRM landscape. The deal is another example of the boom in cloud-based marketing software that Salesforce has acquired in this space in recent years – the most notable of which was Buddy Media for $689 million in early 2012.
Behind today’s announcement is the appreciation that marketing budgets are set to skyrocket over the next few years:
“Marketing was the fastest growing CRM category in 2012, growing at 21% (more than four times the software industry forecast norm in 2012),” said Yvonne Genovese, managing VP, Gartner’s Marketing Leaders Research. “We believe this growth will continue and marketing will be the largest growing CRM category through 2017.”
More importantly, the CMO is expected to spend more on technology than the CIO by 2017.
As such, CRM needs to become increasingly sophisticated at not only identifying and engaging with prospects pre-purchase, but also managing and tracking those relationships on multiple brand touchpoints as they develop.
The mega-vendors with some mega-omissions
Whilst Salesforce has a significant product suite across social media listening (Radian6), social publishing (Buddy Media), social advertising (Social.com) and the acquisition of ExactTarget will provide newfound marketing automation and campaign management capabilities, it remains to be seen how well-poised they are for the increasing demand from both consumers and business customers that can only be met by sophisticated decisioning capabilities.
From an operational standpoint, campaign management solutions continue to be predicated upon complex, rules-based systems which are poorly placed for the myriad and varied multi-channel customer interactions in both B2B and B2C. Rules-based systems are often limited by crude segmentation based off of incomplete customer profiles and a limited pool of structured data around products or campaign messages. This in turn leads to increasingly poor returns on delivering the best offer or proposition to customers.
Curiously, the mega-vendors in the space continue to ignore the advent of content marketing which has the potential to significantly impact customer engagement, advocacy and retention for organisations.
idio’s focuses on solving these current marketing technology omissions where the interests being responded to are more dynamic, where companies know less about a prospect (than a customer) and where content really matters (more than structured data). idio’s decision engine manages, optimizes and personalizes the experiences that can be delivered through content marketing.
As such, idio sees a massive opportunity to become a strategic partner to the likes of Salesforce – who are amassing the capabilities to enable the next generation of CMOs to create engaging customer-centric experiences – but lack the content and customer intelligence to power these ‘always-on’ marketing activities.
Let’s hope Neolane and Responsys will take heed, also.