SalesForce.com Bolsters Portfolio with Acquisition of ExactTarget

First it was Radian6, then Buddy Media. Now ExactTarget is in the crosshairs of Salesforce.com and, as announced earlier today, is the newest acquisition at a price tag of $2.5 billion.

Salesforce.com is a leading enterprise computing service that offers social and mobile cloud technologies focused primarily on sales, digital marketing and customer relationship management (CRM) applications. The addition of ExactTarget – a cloud-based marketing platform that offers data-driven digital marketing solutions with emphasis on email, social media and mobile devices –will bolster SalesForce.com’s marketing solutions offering and put them in a strong position for companies that seek an affordable, yet fully featured package of online marketing tools.

According to Mark Benioff, Chairman and CEO of Salesforce.com, “The addition of ExactTarget makes Salesforce the starting place for every company and puts Salesforce.com in the pole position to capture this opportunity.” This may explain why they paid a hefty $33.75 a share, nearly 53 percent above ExactTarget’s closing price on Monday.

IBM also announced a key acquisition in this space today, purchasing privately-held cloud computing company Softlayer Technologies at a price tag of $2 billion. We believe this shows a clear trend in the increasing importance, and expected growth, of cloud based technologies, particularly those that provide comprehensive digital marketing solutions.

The Salesforce.com acquisition also reveals a shift in spending among businesses, regardless of size. According to a recent survey by Gartner, Inc., there has been a significant increase in marketing dollars spent on digital offerings and they estimate that consumer technology companies will switch at least one-third of their ad spending to online efforts within two years. Furthermore, they predict that by 2017, CMO’s (chief marketing officers) will have larger technology budgets than most CIOs (chief information officers), in order to implement their increasingly sophisticated and more data driven marketing efforts.

A solid, comprehensive CRM platform can help a business of any size nurture prospects and convert sales. Combined with strong online marketing solutions such as email marketing, lead pages and social media strategies, companies have an ever-growing arsenal of weapons available to reach both current and prospective customers at a minimal cost. With companies like Salesforce.com making key strategic acquisitions in this area, they are positioning themselves to offer the “full package” to their customers, giving themselves a significant leg up on their smaller competitors.

As with any technology, however, it is important to remember that the biggest is not necessarily the best. Technologies are not a “one size fits all.” That’s why there is such fierce competition in the market. It is crucial for business owners to understand the different offerings and find a solution that best meets their specific needs.  Our editor, Ramon Ray, recently published a CRM 101 guide to help small business owners better understand the often confusing choices among CRM, email marketing, social media marketing and the like, with an aim toward helping you find the solution that works best for you and fully fits your needs.

One thing is clear: As the “big guys” continue to fight over market share of cloud-based technology solutions, small business owners are offered a silver lining in the form of more comprehensive digital marketing and social media solutions choices that allow highly effective targeting of current and prospective customers, while paying less to do so.

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About Carolyn Crummey

Carolyn Crummey is a business and technology strategist and the owner of VirTasktic (www.virtasktic.com), an agency dedicated to providing high-level virtual services to small businesses and entrepreneurs. A lover of technology and small business, Carolyn has built a career on the intelligent use of technology to increase business efficiency and productivity, which ultimately leads to greater profitability. Carolyn works closely with her clients to understand their challenges and helps them integrate the best technology solutions into their businesses so they too can enjoy great successes. You can follow Carolyn on Twitter at @CarolynCrummey or @VirTasktic.