Marketing cloud land grab continues as IBM acquires Silverpop

As predicted last week, IBM formally announced its intention today to buy marketing automation platform Silverpop for an undisclosed sum.

By acquiring Silverpop, IBM is checking off an important box on its way to building the integrated marketing cloud platform it intends to offer. Acquiring a marketing automation platform is often the core step to integrating the range of digital marketing solutions, as Salesforce did with ExactTarget and Oracle did with Eloqua. 

“The acquisition of Silverpop turbocharges IBM’s ability to put the customer at the center of any organization,” says Craig Hayman, GM, Industry Cloud Solutions, IBM. “Now, nearly any marketing, commerce or customer service professional from any business will have the ability to deliver the kinds of personalized customer experiences that make a measurable impact on the brand experience and the bottom line.” 

The acquisition allows IBM to quickly bring a 100% SaaS solution for its enterprise marketing clients to the market. “It’s a quick hit in the move towards IBM’s cloud strategy,” says Forrester analyst Cory Munchbach. “In this way, they can offer a cloud-based marketing automation solution faster than anything they could build out on their own.”

While IBM already had Unica for multi-channel marketing, Silverpop’s email marketing function is more powerful. However, Munchbach says Silverpop has traditionally been focused on mid-market clientele, so its data storage capabilities for enterprise clients might be underdeveloped.

Muchbach says it was only a matter of time before Silverpop got snapped up, since it was one of the few remaining vendors left in the B2B/B2C automation space. While the move isn’t a game changer, Munchbach says it’s a sound acquisition, especially if IBM can use its resources to develop and quickly execute Silverpop’s ideas. “Silverpop is know for being a company with great ideas, but too often it has let competitors claim the lead on them,” says Munchbach citing Silverpop’s pioneering concept of behavioral targeting, which other platforms developed better. “If IBM can put more inertia behind Silverpop’s vision, then it could potentially be a great partnership.”

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