Will the Acquisition of ExactTarget by Salesforce create a market and technology leader in marketing?

Salesforce.com and ExactTarget announced this week that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which salesforce.com will acquire ExactTarget in a transaction valued at approximately $2.5 billion.

ExactTarget, a leading cloud marketing platform, is used by more than 6,000 companies including Coca-Cola, Gap and Nike to manage their digital marketing. Salesforce.com’s acquisition of ExactTarget will further its mission of being the world’s leading CRM platform. By combining ExactTarget’s digital marketing capabilities salesforce.com will create a very strong marketing platform across email, social, mobile and the web.

According to Gartner, Marketing was the fastest growing CRM category in 2012, growing at 21% (more than four times the software industry forecast norm in 2012). Gartner is predicting a 21 percent growth through 2017.

“The CMO is expected to spend more on technology than the CIO by 2017,” said Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO, salesforce.com. “The addition of ExactTarget makes Salesforce the starting place for every company and puts salesforce.com in the pole position to capture this opportunity.”

The acquisition of ExactTarget is expected to accelerate the growth and leadership of the Salesforce Marketing Cloud. The combination of ExactTarget’s marketing automation and campaign management capabilities with salesforce.com’s social marketing solutions—listening with Radian6, publishing with Buddy Media, and advertising with Social.com—should deliver the a strong marketing platform of choice for CMOs. Would Salesforce emerge the market leader in marketing?

A lot remains to be seen. Integration is not just a technological challenge , but also a customer facing challenge. What will happen with ExactTarget’s customers that are do not use Salesforce ‘s other services or solutions.

A lot remains to be seen, but I think the answer lies in what Benioff said on the analyst call: “We couldn’t just keep making these small acquisitions — that strategy was taking, honestly, too long, We need to work even harder to become No. 1 in marketing.”

Amanda is the Lead Author & Editor of Rainforce Blog. Amanda established the Rainforce blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Salesforce usage.