Earlier today, Silverpop announced their acquisition of marketing demand management start-up Vtrenz. My colleague Shar VanBoskirk and I had the opportunity preview this event with Bill Nussey and Will Schnabel. From a B2B marketing perspective, this combination holds promise because email and lead nurturing make good bedfellows. In B2B, email is a low cost way to continue prospect conversations and it gives marketing a direct channel for incubating buyers during longer B2B purchase cycles.

Because there’s not a lot of overlap in technology or customer bases here, the prospects for a richer, more rounded offering are good. However, this combination is not unique: Eloqua also offers email, lead warming, and prospect analytic solutions. So — other than giving Eloqua some stiffer competition — will this merger matter in the greater email market?  Probably not, but I’ll let Shar weigh in on that question.

To make this deal stand out, Silverpop needs to:

+ Demonstrate solid product integration. Buyers expect software that comes from one company to share common user interface and administration features. Also to work seamlessly with incumbent sales automation systems. Silverpop needs to adopt the clean UI and user experience Vtrenz brings to the marriage across both offerings to make the union stand out in the market.

+ Get two separate sales teams to successfully cross-sell. Sure, both products optimize around communications delivery, but customer acquisition activity is quite different from lead nurturing. I’m not convinced the buyers or leverage points inside either installed base are close enough to make the cross-sell a slam dunk. A few solid testimonials here would alleviate my skepticism.

+ Most importantly, show that they can scale from high-volume, batch-oriented email delivery models used for customer acquisition down to the lower volume, ad hoc delivery that lead nurturing programs require. Lead development automation works when telemarketing/inside sales uses customer behavior and engagement to drive the process, aided by tools that make it easy for them to continue the conversation, make appropriate offers, and track prospect responses.

Anyone else have a different perspective on this? Feel free to post your comments about how this merger matters to you.

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