IBM Acquiring Silverpop for Marketing Automation Expertise

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2014-04-10

IBM Acquiring Silverpop for Marketing Automation Expertise

IBM is beefing up its marketing automation portfolio with the acquisition of Silverpop, an Atlanta-based provider of marketing automation and customer engagement solutions.

IBM today announced a definitive agreement to acquire Silverpop, whose software empowers marketers with cloud-based capabilities that deliver personalized customer engagements. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"The acquisition of Silverpop turbocharges IBM's ability to put the customer at the center of any organization," Craig Hayman, general manager of Industry Cloud Solutions at IBM, said in a statement. "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."

Indeed, IBM officials said they believe the breadth of IBM's enterprise marketing portfolio, combined with Silverpop's marketing automation and real-time personalization technology, will create an advanced customer engagement solution for businesses of all sizes and all scenarios—from startups to multinational enterprises.

For example, a mobile service provider can discover if a customer is an early technology adopter and serve up permission-based marketing offers via mobile messages for the hottest new smartphone just before the customer's contract expires. Silverpop provides deep customer insights and an intuitive engagement engine that will help reduce the complexity of omni-channel marketing, making it easier to personalize the customer experience no matter where the customer sits on their brand journey.

Silverpop extends IBM's client base to power the marketing capabilities of 8,000 organizations in more than 50 countries around the world. Leading companies—such as Mazda, Stonyfield Farm and Advanced Micro Devices—use Silverpop to engage customers in both business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) scenarios. These organizations can now realize the complementary benefits of IBM's platform.

"The Silverpop deal helps to punctuate IBM's ongoing efforts in marketing automation services which have evolved over the past few years via both acquisitions and internal development," said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT. "According to IBM, over 8,000 companies in more than more than 50 countries obtain those services through IBM or one of its 140-plus Ready for Smarter Commerce marketing partners.

"What Silverpop adds to the mix is a customer engagement and lead management platform that collects and collates data about potential customers and allows IBM clients to leverage that information into personalized sales pitches," King said. "By helping to put the customer at the center of the transaction, Silverpop should allow IBM clients to create more effective campaigns and close more sales."

IBM said Silverpop scales automation capabilities—that are more commonly applied in lower-volume B2B scenarios—to complex B2C environments, making it easier for any kind of business to advance customers along the brand journey. For example, an automotive parts supplier can determine when an auto manufacturer's parts inventory is running low and send timely offers based on understanding the customer's typical manufacturing cycle. Or a financial services company can send email offers for 529 college savings plans based on Website activity such as the usage of a college savings calculator. Or a technology provider can prioritize high-value prospects and send customized email offers based on activities such as browsing a Web site, viewing a webinar or downloading a white paper.


IBM Acquiring Silverpop for Marketing Automation Expertise

"Today's announcement of IBM acquiring Silverpop further validates the rapidly growing marketing automation market and substantiates the industry as a whole," said Atri Chatterjee, chief marketing officer at Act-On, a competing marketing automation company. "We are seeing an increasingly growing demand for marketing automation as companies are doing more online multi-channel marketing and moving beyond email."

Adding to IBM's portfolio of more than 100 software-as-a-service offerings, Silverpop empowers marketers with cloud-based capabilities that can be quickly and cost-effectively deployed, with little technical knowledge, to adapt to changing customer demands. This equips marketing, e-commerce and service professionals with tools that allow them to directly design, execute and measure personalized interactions to acquire new customers, drive sales and build brand loyalty.

"By engineering a solution that uniquely delivers personalization through automation, our team has solved one of the most complex challenges facing marketers today," said Bill Nussey, CEO of Silverpop, in a statement. "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."

While marketers understand the importance of personalization, most struggle to achieve it beyond basic segmentation and audience definition. Silverpop solves this by automating the creation of personalized experiences based on real-time customer profiles that draw from permission-based data streams inside and outside the organization — such as social, Web, email and mobile activity. This approach makes it easier for brands to improve the customer experience, increase conversions and profitability, and strengthen customer loyalty.

IBM's growing ecosystem of over 140 Ready for Smarter Commerce marketing partners will create an even more complete view of each customer by integrating data from these additional sources into Silverpop, enabling deeper customization, IBM said.

IBM's acquisition of Silverpop will help the company round out its marketing platform that competes with Adobe, which has continued to build out its Adobe Marketing Cloud. At the recent Adobe Summit 2014, Adobe focused on the theme of reinventing marketing.

"Corporate Darwinism is at work here in a fast evolving market," Chatterjee said. "The companies that remain standing are the hyper-growth ones with leading-edge technology, or the behemoths that are scrambling to enter the market. Forrester Research recently published the 2014 Forrester Wave report on lead-to-revenue-management vendors where they identified and assessed the top 9 vendors in the space—wearing two lenses: enterprise and small marketing teams. This is a time of opportunity for marketing automation vendors to innovate and grow. The use of marketing automation has only scratched the surface, and we are in the beginning stages of a long and prosperous road."

The acquisition of Silverpop is subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory clearance and is expected to close in the second quarter of 2014.


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