IBM Silverpop Buy Will Boost Marketing - InformationWeek

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IBM Silverpop Buy Will Boost Marketing

IBM deal for SaaS-based Silverpop will boost marketing automation, challenging Oracle's Responsys and's ExactTarget.

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IBM has a deep portfolio of marketing technologies, thanks to its acquisitions of Unica, Coremetrics, Tealeaf, and Xtify, but the collection is about to get cloudier and more capable with the acquisition of Silverpop. A planned deal was announced on Thursday and is expected to close in the second quarter.

The terms of the deal for the privately held company were not disclosed. Atlanta-based Silverpop has 8,000 customers in more than 50 countries, including high-profile Mazda, Stonyfield Farm, and Advanced Micro Devices. The deal is clearly a response to Oracle's recent $1.5 billion acquisition of Responsys and to's $2.5 billion purchase of ExactTarget in 2013. All three companies have strong suits in personalized digital messaging, primarily via email, but also including social and mobile campaign capabilities.

[Want more on digital marketing? Read How CIOs And CMOs Can Be Better Partners.]

Silverpop's marketing automation technology is a bit of an overlap with Unica campaign automation capabilities, but according to Kevin Bishop, IBM's VP of enterprise marketing management, Unica skews toward large customers doing business-to-consumer marketing.

"Silverpop extends our footprint into smaller organizations, departments, and more of a business-to-business focus, not just business-to-consumer, although Silverpop is strong in both areas," Bishop told InformationWeek in a phone interview.

Silverpop gives IBM a considerable lift in email delivery marketshare, an area where it competes with Responsys, ExactTarget, and Marketo, among others, Bishop confirmed. IBM will differentiate Silverpop capabilities by "deeply integrating" with IBM Coremetrics web analytics capabilities, Xtify mobile messaging capabilities, and Tealeaf clickstream analytics.

IBM said in a statement that Silverpop's "sophisticated, permission-based automation capabilities" can be used by financial services companies to send email offers for 529 college savings plans based on website behavior, such as the use of an online college savings calculator. In another example, online marketers of any stripe can send email offers based on website or webinar views or downloads of catalogs or white papers.

"Combined with the power of IBM’s portfolio and worldwide partner ecosystem, we can advance our mission to help organizations build customer relationships one at a time on an even grander scale," said Bill Nussey, Silverpop's CEO, in a statement.

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Doug Henschen is Executive Editor of InformationWeek, where he covers the intersection of enterprise applications with information management, business intelligence, big data and analytics. He previously served as editor in chief of Intelligent Enterprise, editor in chief of ... View Full Bio

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User Rank: Apprentice
4/15/2014 | 5:34:09 AM
It's all about spotting and acting on Intent
While Silverpop strengthens IBM's portfolio, positioning Unica for large B2C and Silverpop for SMBs would be logical if the market actually operated this way.  As differences between B2B and B2C customer engagement marketing increasingly diminish, as well as differences in the types of marketing programs large versus smaller brands invest in, IBM may find that it can better serve its customers with one robust platform of capabilities that focuses more on behavior-based interaction, segmentation and -driven personalization across channels.  Following in the footsteps of Salesforce and acquiring capabilities that are operated as separate business units hurts, not helps, the customer who needs a robust, multi-channel, integrated and truly scalable solution. 

The next stage in the evolution of marketing automation solutions will include robust scalable solutions that are able spot and understand intent of anonymous, as well as known, visitors and guide marketers on how to engage in a relevant, persistent and meaning conversation with customers and prospects.   It's not enough to just offer personalization-capable software.  Vendors must help their customers understand how and when to apply it and what metrics to use to measure its impact on revenue and loyalty.  At Selligent, that's what our customers tell us and what differentiates our solutions. 

Andre Lejeune, CEO, Selligent
D. Henschen
D. Henschen,
User Rank: Author
4/10/2014 | 1:17:46 PM
Unica too expensive?
IBM previously claimed to have cloudy marketing capabilities, but now it's being more honest and fessing up that Unica wasn't cutting it too well as "hybrid" cloud offering. Silverpop will step them up to the current state of the art, but on so many fronts I hear IBM acquisiitons tend to fall out of the thick of the competition. "We don't see them anymore" is the typical refrain. What's more, IBM seems to have more trouble than most acquirers keeping entreprenurial leaders. They get their earn-out bonuses and then bolt. Look how few original execs are still around from Cognos, Netezza and so on. What gives?
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