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Salesforce acquires Exact Target (and therefore Pardot)

What’s next after Salesforce acquires ExactTarget? Will CRM and Marketing Automation Converge?

Feels like only a few months ago (it was!) that email marketing provider ExactTarget acquired SME Marketing Automation Platform, Pardot.

Since then we’ve had Oracle’s acquisition of Eloqua and Marketo’s flotation.  What does all this mean to small to medium tech and services businesses?

Well, if Marketing Automation wasn’t on your radar before then it should be now.  In our experience, Salesforce is the most widely used CRM platform in this space. At the same time, the SME space has been slow to adopt marketing automation, seeing it as a giant leap from the typical push campaigns to the fully integrated, highly segmented, inbound campaigns that Marketing Automation platforms are so good at enabling.

But times are changing.

Time to align?

Buyers increasingly control the pace and the process of buying.  Sales and marketing functions are being driven to align themselves more closely with each other and with buyers’ needs. Senior management need better visibility of what marketing spend is the most cost effective AND what the net result is for the revenue pipeline.

This is happening across the board, in enterprise organisations, and smaller businesses.

Will the acquisition of ExactTarget be the catalyst needed to drive marketing automation into the mainstream for SMEs?  The price point for these platforms has come down significantly, making them increasingly accessible to smaller businesses.  This move has been led by Hubspot, Marketo, Pardot and Silverpop amongst others. So, what’s next?

What’s the package?

One question we have about the acquisition of ExactTarget by Salesforce is around 'packaging'. Will Salesforce be the first CRM/Marketing Automation vendor to offer a 'packaged' solution for the smaller companies out there? A solution which provides CRM, email marketing, full automation, and digital marketing capabilities - all in one - and priced appropriately, bringing sophisticated marketing options to the small business community?

Other Marketing Automation vendors may not view the news so favourably, but on the whole (we feel) it’s a very good thing. Driving mainstream adoption of these sophisticated tools is a positive step, and will grow the market for all.

What do you think of the news? How will other CRM vendors react?  Who is next?

Watch this space!


About the Author: Virginia Bray

Virginia Bray

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