ExactTarget, the marketing software giant that went public in March, has picked up a pair of smaller companies to build out its portfolio: marketing automation company Pardot for $95.5 million ($85.5 million in cash and $10.0 million in ExactTarget common stock) and analytics company iGoDigital for $21 million ($14.7 million in cash and $6.3 million in ExactTarget common stock).
The two acquisitions will help ExactTarget compete better in a climate where its once-smaller rivals have been getting acquired by bigger fish, or gone public themselves. Those include Radian6 (now part of Salesforce), Aprimo, Inc. (now part of Teradata), CheetahMail Inc. (part of Experian Group), e-Dialog Inc. (a subsidiary of eBay Inc.), and the acquisitive Buddy Media; another competitor, Eloqua, went public in August.
The Pardot exit represents another big win for Atlanta’s marketing/ad-tech startups. Earlier this year, the social media marketing company Vitrue went to Oracle for $300 million, while publishers Gannett picked up social media marketers Blinq Media for $92 million.
Pardot, which has around 1,000 clients including companies like comScore, will help ExactTarget — founded as an email marketing/automation company — to build out the functionality it offers to sales and marketing teams. More specifically, it puts ExactTarget into a better position against the likes of Salesforce. Pardot’s software covers areas like CRM integration, email marketing, lead nurturing, lead scoring and ROI reporting for marketing and sales teams to work better together. It wraps these into a dashboard it calls LeadDeck.
In a letter sent to Pardot’s clients — seen by TechCrunch and embedded below — co-founder Adam Blitzer notes that the deal will mean “better resources” for clients, but not higher prices or different terms, at least for current packages.
Meanwhile, the iGoDigital acquisition, although smaller, takes ExactTarget further into what it might offer its clients on the web.
Specifically, iGoDigital — founded in 2004 in Indianapolis — has developed solutions around the areas of e-commerce, recommendations and tracking site visitors to improve the buying experience. Clients of iGoDigital speak to how that technology gets used: they include Walmart, Amazon and Best Buy.
iGoDigital also offers predictive analytics services, an area that is becoming increasingly important as companies look to become more sophisticated in how they create content, sell products and in general do business online.
The idea behind buying iGoDigital is also to bring web-based marketing services closer together with the direct marketing that ExactTarget already offers. That underscores a trend for more convergence in how brands present themselves to consumers over the Internet:
“Consumers expect a seamless experience across every interaction with a brand,” said Scott Dorsey, ExactTarget co-founder and CEO, in a statement. “With the addition of iGoDigital’s advanced Web capabilities and predictive analytics to the ExactTarget platform, we will continue to revolutionize marketing with a powerful suite of new applications to transform data into highly personalized, seamless experiences across email, mobile, social media and the Web.”
ExactTarget already had a track record buying smaller companies that took the company away from its original email roots. Among past acquisitions is CoTweet, which helps enterprises manage Twitter accounts, which it bought in 2010 for $8.1 million.
In its pre-IPO days, ExactTarget had raised $188 million from VCs including Insight Venture Partners and Battery Ventures. It looks like neither Pardot nor iGoDigital have ever taken any significant VC investment, meaning that this would have represented a healthy exit for its founders and shareholders — and shows that even Silicon Valley outliers can make significant headway with the right product.
A note to our valued Pardot clients:
I’m happy to be able to share with you some really exciting news about Pardot. As of this afternoon, Pardot is now a part of ExactTarget – the leading global provider of email and cross-channel marketing.
What does that mean to our clients? It means that we’ll have even more resources to serve you. Creating an above-and-beyond customer service experience has always been our goal, and it’s only going to get better as a part of the ExactTarget team. Our team remains dedicated to fast and furious product development, working to add new features that will help improve your marketing processes. You’ll also benefit from the increased global product support and extensive email marketing expertise that ExactTarget will provide.
As we have always maintained, today’s announcement will not change the pricing or terms of your current package.
I’d like to personally thank you for being the most awesome clients that any company could ask for! We absolutely love our customers, and your ideas inspire us to continue building a better Pardot.
I hope that I get to meet many of you in person at our upcoming Elevate conference. If you have any questions at all about our new relationship with ExactTarget, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your Pardot Client Advocate.