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Because Email Just Isn’t Enough: Joe Payne on ExactTarget’s Acquisition of Pardot

I never thought I’d be an industry pundit.

But marketing automation is an exciting space, and as many other large organizations, from Oracle to IBM, try to buy their way into the party, I’ve found myself commenting again and again on where the market is headed. (One of these commentaries is even immortalized in David Meerman Scott’s latest edition of Real-Time Marketing & PR.)

That trend continued when the email provider ExactTarget said it would purchase Pardot. For the marketing automation industry, this is validation of what we’ve been saying all along: Email just isn’t enough.

Enterprises face increasingly competitive and complex sales and marketing cycles. The number of channels businesses need to engage buyers on isn’t getting smaller. In this environment, batch and blast marketing doesn’t cut it. Marketers need tools like lead scoring, lead nurturing and the ability to send sophisticated, multi-channel campaigns from a single platform.

Seeing one of the largest email providers admit as much is gratifying for the industry.

But I’ve also been asked, what does this mean for Eloqua? Put simply, not much.

While both Pardot and ExactTarget are good companies with leaders I deeply respect, the truth is we don’t compete much with Pardot, and we certainly don’t compete today with ExactTarget. Pardot has served the small business market well in our space, and I expect them to continue to do that now that ExactTarget is bringing them on board. As long as the combined businesses sell the same product, we don’t expect to bump into them often.

And there’s some history here, also.

Three years ago, Oracle bought Market2Lead, a strong marketing automation solution targeting the business buyer. Not too long after that, Teradata purchased Aprimo, another well-known brand in the space. What we saw in both cases was that the consolidation didn’t lead to tougher competition. In fact, as the acquired companies were assimilated, they became less effective at competing with Eloqua. While I like Scott Dorsey and David Cummings personally, I don’t expect they’ll be able to change that pattern.

Marketing automation isn’t just about tools and technologies; it’s a fundamental shift in the way you market and sell. Modern marketers need more than a vendor, they need a partner with the expertise to train, educate and guide them through a constantly changing communication and business landscape. These consolidations, though, haven’t led to the kind of focus and dedication the enterprise needs.

So Eloqua will continue to do what we’ve done best for ten years: maintain our maniacal focus on customer success, combining the industry’s most robust product with the deepest level of modern marketing expertise. The way forward hasn’t changed.

Finally, I want to congratulate Pardot CEO, and fellow Duke University alumnae, on the company’s acquisition. ExactTarget has brought in a great thinker. All of us affiliated with Duke are looking forward to this transaction closing and are expecting a nice alumni gift!

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