June 7, 2013

What Salesforce’s Purchase of ExactTarget Means

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News broke Tuesday across the tech world that Salesforce purchased ExactTarget, a marketing software company, for $2.5 billion. This is just the latest in a string of marketing software company purchases by Salesforce that began in 2011. But underneath it all, what does this $2.5 billion purchase signify?

The Shift to Marketing Automation

Marketing automation was the missing tool in Salesforce’s Swiss Army knife. The acquisition signifies the shift of modern marketers to the digital era. In fact, Gartner estimates 33% of all traditional consumer technology company budgets will switch to digital marketing in the next two years.

Salesforce chairman and chief executive Marc Benioff provides this insight, “The CMO is expected to spend more on technology than the CIO by 2017. The addition of ExactTarget makes Salesforce the starting place for every company.” Marketers are saying goodbye to traditional marketing and embracing digital marketing— along with the speed, data, and effectiveness it creates.

The Rise of the Cloud

This purchase is just one more example of how the cloud is gaining acceptance. Adobe, Oracle, and now Salesforce are racing to complete their “marketing clouds.” What initially started as “social marketing clouds” have shifted to full marketing suites accessible from anywhere by anyone. Originally thought of as an unreliable technology, the cloud is now becoming the sole technology for modern marketers. In the future, we will only continue to see billion dollar acquisitions of cloud computing.

Email Marketing Is Not “Gone”

While some may argue that social media is replacing “traditional” email marketing, this purchase is a prime example that email marketing isn’t going anywhere any time soon—it’s just being used in conjunction with other mediums. ExactTarget allows marketers to manage their email, mobile, and social efforts all from one platform.

In conclusion, not only does the acquisition of ExactTarget signify Salesforce’s own growth, but it also signifies the growth and direction we can expect to see technology and marketing take as they merge in the future.