StrongMail acquires two firms to expand services

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E-mail marketing firm StrongMail has acquired two marketing services firms in a bid to expand services to its 500-plus clients.

The two firms, Conversa Marketing and Magnetik, both New York-based interactive marketing agencies, will be combined and rebranded as ThreadMarketing under the StrongMail umbrella.

The direct marketing industry has seen a slew of acquisitions in recent months, both by service providers desiring to carve out a piece of the market with their core offerings as well as by companies seeking to expand their range of services. For example, Hearst Media announced its acquisition of search marketing firm iCrossing June 4.

Sam Cece, CEO of StrongMail, told DMNews that e-mail remains at the core of its offering, but the company can now offer clients, such as Macy's, Travelocity and Viacom, consulting services in e-mail and social media.

Michael Della Penna, former CEO of Conversa, will lead ThreadMarketing as EVP. Magnetik's co-leaders Doug Steinberg and Will Kunkel, will serve as co-creative directors of the new entity.

Cece said he expects ThreadMarketing to account for 25% of StrongMail's revenues next year.

Both Conversa and Magnetik provide a broad range of services, including e-mail and social media marketing, web design and CRM. ThreadMarketing will offer strategic consulting and branding, listening and monitoring services, proprietary database marketing solutions, website development and e-mail and social media campaign tools and execution services, among its tool set.

No layoffs will occur as a result of the acquisitions, according to Cece. The two companies bring in a dozen clients, including Castrol, East Bay, Equifax and People.com.

StrongMail's goal is to cater to a new type of client demand, prompted by social media, and provide a social CRM solution for its client base.

“With the emergence of social media channels — it's like the Wild West again,” said Cece. “The overall role [of ThreadMarketing] will be to serve as a campaign management system,” he added.

As the industry at large seeks to monetize social media, Cece also said these acquisitions will demonstrate monetization through social media services.  

Della Penna said identifying a brand's major influencers will be a main focus of the agency's programs. Developing a platform where these individuals get rewarded, earning credits on Facebook, for instance, for posting something about a brand and enlisting friends to follow suit, is one strategy, he said.

“We're building actionable and trackable programs,” said Della Penna. He added that the move gives his clients larger scale.

Steinberg said the company is grounded in technology, as much as it is in creativity. "We like to consider ourselves to be on the cutting edge in our field. So, we wanted to partner with others that have the same values," he said.

The acquisition brings StrongMail's total headcount to 120, and gives it a New York office. It will add to its staff, said Cece.

StrongMail also acquired PopularMedia, a social media marketing company, for an undisclosed sum last summer.

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