April 11, 2014, 4:45 PM

IBM to buy e-mail firm Silverpop to build out its e-marketing software suite

The cloud-based Silverpop fills a hole in IBM’s digital marketing portfolio as IBM strives to offer a more complete set of tools for marketing across multiple channels, including to mobile devices and via social networks.

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To boslter its suite of tools for running targeted marketing campaigns across multiple channels, including mobile devices and social media, IBM Corp. says it plans to acquire Silverpop, a provider of e-mail management technology that companies access through the Internet. IBM didn’t say what it expects to pay for Silverpop, a privately held company based in Atlanta.

The deal brings IBM a software-as-a-service e-mail application that is more robust than its existing SaaS-based eMessage application, industry analysts say. “This gives IBM one of the best-of-breed e-mail systems,” says Adam Sarner, an analyst at Gartner Inc.

He adds that companies have been known to use other digital marketing and e-commerce technology from IBM but opt for other vendors to fill their e-mail marketing technology needs. E-retailers including American Girl LLC, No. 116 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, and Moosejaw Mountaineering, No. 268, use Silverpop for e-mail marketing. Silverpop counts 27 of the 1,000 top North American e-retailers by sales as clients. Silverpop raised $25 million in funding last year.

Silverpop also brings IBM new customers, including mid-market companies that will expand IBM’s reach with mid-sized business, says Corrine Munchbach, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc. Among Silverpop’s clients are Mazda Motor of America Inc. and yogurt company Stoneyfield Farm Inc.

Analysts add that IBM can be expected to integrate Silverpop into IBM’s broader suite of marketing and e-commerce software, much of which came from previous acquisitions. But they caution that IBM will have its work cut out for it.

“We continue to wait for examples and proof that these mega-vendors can deliver the integration they promise,” Munchbach says. She adds that IBM will have to show whether Silverpop’s data storage and related technology will be able to handle the big data requirements of many of IBM’s largest clients.



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