IBM acquires Silverpop, rounds out marketing cloud

IBM acquires Silverpop, rounds out marketing cloud

Summary: IBM has aggressively building out its marketing suite as it tries to land chief marketing officers, which increasingly control more technology buying power.


IBM on Thursday said it will acquire Silverpop, a company that specializes in cloud marketing software.

Silverpop, a privately held company based in Atlanta, competes with the likes of Lithium and Marketo to name a few.

IBM has aggressively building out its marketing suite as it tries to land chief marketing officers, which increasingly control more technology buying power.

IDC: Line of business tech spending to hit $330.4 billion

Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

Big Blue said its plans were to combine Silverpop's personal marketing technology and customer engagement software with its enterprise marketing portfolio. IBM is hoping that Silverpop's customer base which includes a bevy of business to consumer and business to business companies will give it up sell possibilities.

Meanwhile, Silverpop can be rolled out to IBM's marketing customers.



Silverpop automates personalized marketing and uses real-time customer profiles to define audiences on social, Web, email and mobile platforms.

Constellation Research principal Ray Wang said the acquisition is a good move for IBM:

While IBM has an army of assets in play for marketing, the reality is that you need mass personalization at scale to deliver on relevancy and context. Silverpop brings this and their ability to effectively keep identities in context regardless of how that individual is engaging inside a brand and potentially with other brands. The benefit of Silverpop is that it's not limited to just B2B or B2C. It's been effective for customers across all types of companies.

In a blog post, Silverpop CEO Bill Nussey said:

Over the last few years, I’ve looked at many different ways to accelerate Silverpop’s incredible success. But from my very first meeting with IBM, it was clear that combining our companies was better than any opportunity I’d considered...IBM was the first major company to weave together different marketing technologies into a single, unified vision. Their globally recognized CMO reports were among the industry’s earliest visions of how technology would transform marketing and the customer experience.

Topics: CXO, Cloud, Enterprise Software, IBM

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  • The crowd perspective

    Silverpop does indeed compete with Marketo but does not compete with Lithium.

    Based upon 13,812 comparisons run by Marketing Automation software buyers on TrustRadius in Q4 2013, Silverpop was most often compared to Marketo (29% of the time), followed by ExactTarget (11%) followed by Pardot from Salesforce (9%), then Hubspot (8%).

    You can access the data here:

    Other sites have reported the purchase price to be ~3x revenue or $270 million. This is certainly a much lower multiple than Oracle paid for Eloqua, Salesforce paid for ExactTarget, Adobe paid for Neolane. However, I also think it reflects the lower growth rate and competitive challenges Silverpop has been facing of late.

    Vinay Bhagat
    CEO, TrustRadius
    Vinay Bhagat
  • Behavior-based personalizaton is the bigger story

    While Silverpop strengthens IBM's portfolio, I see the bigger story in this acquisition centered on the growing acceptance of behavior-based interactions and -driven personalization. That is the next stage in marketing automation maturity that vendors must excel at in order to compete.

    Only by being able to spot and understand intent of anonymous, as well as known, visitors can marketers engage in a relevant, persistent and meaning conversation with customers and prospects. It's not enough to just offer personalization-capable software, vendors need to be able to help their customer how and when to apply it and what metrics to use to measure its impact on revenue and loyalty. IBM has the professional services knowledge and resources to help their clients get the most out of Silverpop if IBM can get their SMB customers to pay for them.

    At Selligent, our customers tell us that services and knowledge are part of the value proposition of SaaS solutions but those services need to be specific to their industry, end-customers, and programs.

    Andre Lejeune
    CEO, Selligent
    Andre LeJeune