IBM all set to Plunder the Realm of Digital Marketing with the Silverpop acquisition

Apr 11, 2014

A big fish swallows yet another marketing automation platform. This fish is big, blue and very hungry. IBM recently announced an agreement to acquire Silverpop, leading software as a service (SaaS) platform for marketing automation. Marketing automation in the cloud is a hot investment area this year and IBM is ready to set foot on the battlefield with some very heavy armor.

First, let’s look at what IBM had in its kitty before it decided to scoop Silverpop. Its comprehensive enterprise marketing management (EMM) portfolio comprises digital marketing optimization, digital analytics, mobile marketing and campaign management solutions. Its 2010 acquisition of Unica allows IBM to offer advanced campaign management abilities. Moreover, IBM also offers an eCommerce solution, email messaging service and content management capabilities. With all of these solutions, IBM was already competing with Oracle, Adobe and Salesforce for a market share of digital marketing cloud services.

The acquisition of Silverpop brings in yet another dimension to its EMM portfolio, further bolstering its value proposition to vie in this highly competitive digital marketing marketplace. Silverpop, once integrated within EMM, offers the ability for cross-channel delivery of messages over email, mobile, social or any other channel. Most importantly, it brings IBM one step closer to the holy grail of personalized and highly targeted messaging based on rich customer profiles.

Silverpop recently announced a number of new solutions for its eCommerce customers. With IBM’s eCommerce platform, the two organizations can continue to capture the market share in this ever so competitive eCommerce space.

Mobile marketing is a huge focus area for IBM. Sometime this year, IBM will be integrating the mobile messaging platform Xtify with EMM. Additionally, the Tealeaf acquisition enhanced its mobile analytics capabilities. Silverpop, with its recently launched Mobile Connector, offers marketers the ability to run targeted promotions on mobile applications. Again, integration is key. Combining customer profile information from a number of channels for one coherent view of a customer gives IBM an edge over the others to actually execute relevant messaging on mobile. The integration of Silverpop will give IBM numerous cross-sell and up-sell opportunities to leverage Silverpop’s B2C customer base worldwide. Silverpop’s direct and indirect network across North America, the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany and South Africa reinforces the acquisition.

Finally, taking a look at the competition on the marketing automation side alone, we have Marketo, which remains a potential acquisition target. Eloqua was already acquired by Oracle. Salesforce has Pardot. Act-On Software and Salesfusion are next in the line. Other than an obvious contender (i.e., Microsoft), I would not be surprised if SAS Software, SAP AG or HP jump on the bandwagon to take advantage of the tremendous growth potential of digital marketing. The big four (IBM, Adobe, Oracle, Salesforce) better be ready for some company.

Hiral Jasani


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