Salesforce's push into cloud-based marketing took a big turn today as the customer relationship management (CRM) company announced that it is acquiring ExactTarget in a deal valued at a whopping $2.5 billion.
ExactTarget has over 6,000 customers on its cloud marketing platform, which provides multi-channel digital campaign automation, management and reporting services to spur consumer engagement. Big-brand clients include Coca-Cola, Nike and Gap.
For Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, it was another major brand that helped put ExactTarget on his company's radar. He revealed in conference call discussing the acquisition that during one of his customer visits, he noticed that ExactTarget was helping Bank of America reach its customers in innovative ways. "There was this other great company there doing amazing work with them with mobile and email and connecting the customer in incredible new ways," he said.
Selling to the CMO
Prefacing his remarks with a forecast from Gartner that predicts chief marketing officers (CMOs) will be outspending chief information officers (CIOs) on technology by 2017, Benioff made his company's case for acquiring ExactTarget.
Describing the deal as an "historic day for cloud computing," Benioff said, "we recognize that for us to continue to be number one in CRM, we of course have to be number one in sales -- which we are -- we have to be number one in service... But we also have to work even harder to become number one at marketing."
The Salesforce-ExactTarget combination represents an "opportunity to create solutions in sales, services and marketing that are unified, that are mobile, that are social, that are in the cloud...," added Benioff.
Marketing and More
Nucleus Research vice president Rebecca Wettemann told Enterprise Apps Today that the buy will help flesh out Salesforce's marketing portfolio. "This fortifies Salesforce's marketing arsenal with email marketing and lead management capabilities - additive to its existing social marketing capabilities that it built both organically and with the Radian6 and Buddy Media acquisitions," she said.
Salesforce snapped up social media monitoring and CRM specialist Radian6 in early 2011 for $326 million. Later that same year, the company grabbed Buddy Media, a social marketing firm, for $689 million.
In essence, the ExactTarget buy is part of Salesforce's strategy to cement its spot in the enterprise software market. "Salesforce has recognized that to have staying power it needs to be sticky beyond just sales force automation, and Salesforce has worked to extend its functionality in marketing and customer service over the past few years, as well as its platform capabilities for custom application development and site management that reach beyond CRM," Wettemann said, mentioning Salesforce sites and communities as examples.
In a statement, ExactTarget CEO and co-founder Scott Dorsey discussed how the companies' platform will complement one another.
"ExactTarget's mission is to revolutionize how businesses connect with their consumers using data-driven digital marketing across all channels. Salesforce.com's tremendous strength in social marketing, along with its leadership position in sales and service, not only will accelerate this vision, but also provide our customers with a powerful, integrated CRM platform to transform their end-to-end customer experience," remarked Dorsey.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Enterprise Apps Today and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.