What Salesforce + ExactTarget means for marketers and PR pros

ExactTarget: Digital Marketing Software - Email Marketing, Social Media, & Mobile Marketing

In their largest acquisition yet, Salesforce.com (client) has purchased ExactTarget, the email marketing company, for $2.5 billion. What does this mean for you as a marketer?

This changes the game for every other email marketing company in the Salesforce marketspace, mainly mid-market and enterprise companies. For years, there was no default choice for an email marketing solution – any vendor that could integrate with Salesforce could do fine, and Salesforce was vendor-agnostic on the email front. This is no longer true; Salesforce Marketing Cloud is now the default email marketing choice. The purchase validates the continuing importance of email marketing as a vital channel for communicating with prospective customers and all of the best practices that go along with it.

This is a huge change for companies looking for a marketing automation solution as well. There are plenty of competitors in this space, such as Eloqua, Marketo, Manticore, Act-On, Hubspot, etc. The list is quite lengthy – but with the ExactTarget acquisition, Salesforce also obtains the Pardot marketing automation system that ExactTarget bought last year. This now provides a default choice for marketing automation for Salesforce customers as well, as I expect Pardot to become a part of Marketing Cloud. Competitors to Pardot are now competing against the gold-standard sales CRM vendor.

Most important, this acquisition is a giant put-your-money-where-your-mouth-is validation of the idea that social media, email marketing, marketing automation, advertising, and sales live under one roof and need to be tightly integrated with a direct line of sight to revenue. Once upon a time, I wrote that sometimes you need a Swiss Army Knife, and sometimes you need best of breed individual tools to do the job. Salesforce is attempting to solve the dichotomy by making a really big Swiss Army Knife.

For PR professionals, this acquisition is the writing on the wall for any PR effort that isn’t tightly integrated with marketing. Salesforce is making a multibillion dollar bet that you’ll want to be able to manage your audience from the moment someone enters the funnel (as measured by marketing automation) to the closing of the deal. If you don’t know how these marketing and sales tools work – and how your PR efforts directly tie into them – you’re going to face stiff some stiff headwinds for getting your efforts approved. Conversely, if you can showcase how your PR efforts directly flow into the suite of technologies and tools that companies like Salesforce are providing, down to actual revenue generated, the sky is the limit for what you can do.

Congratulations to Salesforce.com and the ExactTarget teams – and of course, if you’d like to engage SHIFT Communications to help you work out your marketing automation and email marketing strategies, feel free to contact us.

Christopher S. Penn
Vice President, Marketing Technology


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