If you’re a current or prospective user of the ExactTarget platform, you’ve probably already seen the announcement that it was acquired by Salesforce.com for $2.5 billion. The deal, Salesforce.com’s largest-ever acquisition, is expected to close in late July. In recent years, ExactTarget has transcended its original position as simply an email service provider and has become a significant presence in SMS, social media, and marketing automation. As such, news of the acquisition resonated well beyond the email space.
While it certainly was an eye-popping deal, precious little has been said by either side about what the acquisition truly means for users. And there is a reason for that: From our vantage point, it is unlikely that much will change for ExactTarget in the immediate term. Salesforce.com purchased a robust, integrated, highly usable, and effective marketing tool that drives marketing for some of the biggest brands in the world. Given its investment and the high degree of satisfaction with the tool among its user base, it would be likely difficult to quickly subsume ExactTarget into Salesforce’s marketing automation cloud and significant changes to the functionality and interface are likely not immediately warranted.
Here is what we do know:
- The acquisition of ExactTarget by Salesforce.com completes the transition ExactTarget has pursued through organic growth and acquisitions over the past few years – from an excellent standalone email service provider to an end-to-end, integrated one-to-one marketing platform. Likewise, this positions Salesforce.com much more favorably with a marketing offering for those who are most likely to buy, and appeasing 2012’s fastest growing CRM category. This move immerses ExactTarget as an indispensable part of a complete end-to-end marketing platform – CRM (Salesforce’s core offering), email/SMS (ExactTarget’s core offering), marketing automation (Pardot), e-commerce and web personalization (iGoDigital), social media management (BuddyMedia) and monitoring/analytics (Social Engage, Radian6).
- Partners are needed more than ever. ET has long relied on partners such as DEG to deliver its services, and Salesforce.com relies exclusively on strategy partners to implement its software. Given the opportunities inherent in the suite of offerings from the combined companies, it’s going to be a challenge for marketers to make the most of what the new Salesforce.com has to offer without expert help. As such, partners will become ever more critical.
- The combined package will be that much more attractive to brands big and small. Between the two companies, Salesforce.com and ExactTarget have a hugely impressive client roster. The future likely holds tighter cross-channel integration, deeper business intelligence, favorable pricing, and a host of other efficiencies, and that will make the Salesforce.com engine very hard to ignore, indeed.
DEG is proud to be one of ExactTarget’s longest-tenured, most certified, most-experienced, and most-decorated partners. Over the years we’ve seen the platform evolve, grow, and evolve again. That said, we’re looking forward to a bright future for our friends in orange, and to leading in this new ecosystem the same way we led in the old one — by crafting smart strategies that empower organizations to amplify their competitive advantages and achieve their objectives.
Look to this blog in the coming weeks as a clearinghouse for all things related to the ExactTarget/Salesforce.com acquisition. Please post your feedback and questions; we’d love to have your insights.