Change is the only constant. This truism is one of the reasons why web intelligence is so much fun to cover at Forrester Research. Web analytics, site optimization, mobile measurement, and the online marketing suite are constantly evolving, which is not only fascinating but will – one would hope – lead to increasingly productive and relevant marketing. 

The market moved again yesterday, as Hubspot announced the acquisition of Performable. You can read the official Hubspot announcement here and the matching Performable announcement here. I had the opportunity this morning to speak with Hubspot's Kirsten Knipp to learn more about the transaction. The terms of the transaction are undisclosed, but clearly Hubspot is feeling empowered in the wake of their recent funding round. The entire Performable team is staying on board, and it appears to be a very collegial meeting of the minds; Performable CEO David Cancel and Hubspot CTO Dharmesh Shah have known one another for several years. 

This is a particularly interesting event to me; I have known the Performable team since the early days of the company. I met them due to their original focus on optimization (you may recall that I spent the bulk of 2010 researching online testing), but Performable's emergence from landing-page testing to a full-fledged analytics platform has been fascinating to watch. First and foremost, I'd like to offer the Performable team a hearty congratulations and best wishes for the future. Understandably, the joint Performable-Hubspot team has a lot of details to work out as they work toward a combined product by the end of 2011 or early 2012, but the mutual benefits are straightforward:

Hubspot gets:

  • Accelerated product development. Hubspot gets an immediate leap forward in depth of analytics functionality, bolstering their content and execution capabilities with more sophisticated analytics and automated testing.
  • Talent. Hubspot gets experienced senior executives, such as David Cancel, and an engineering team with proven UI/UX chops that can be brought to bear across the platform.
  • The ability to move upstream. Both Hubspot and Performable have traditionally focused on selling to smaller companies, but advances in analytics should expand their appeal to smaller companies with sophisticated marketing requirements, mid-size companies, and enterprises in search of departmental marketing solutions.

Performable gets:

  • Distribution. As the two product lines are integrated, Performable will receive nearly instant distribution to Hubspot's 4500 customers.
  • Analytics in context. Performable's capabilities will be combined with the Hubspot platform, aligning analytics and optimization with Hubspot's content and execution functionality, ensuring accessible, actionable analytics throughout the marketing funnel.
  • Ongoing investment. Hubspot offers a long-term commitment to develop, distribute, and support Performable's products within their platform.

And there is more to come, as Hubspot apparently has big plans: CEO Brian Halligan noted in the Performable announcement that "This acquisition is just the first in a series of partnerships, acquisitions and other announcements you can expect to see from us in the coming months." 

So then, what have Hubspot and Performable taught us this week?

  • Marketing technology must benefit – surprise! – marketers. Marketers are hungry for technology to help them manage today's demanding and complex environment without needing to hire an army of agencies, consultants, and systems integrators. Performable is part of a new generation of analytics and optimization vendors that are focused on providing tools for business users that are integrated, easy to use, and affordable, thereby democratizing capabilities that have previously only been available to large companies with large budgets and highly specialized skills.
  • "Good enough" analytics isn't good enough. Many tools provide marketers with a dashboard of basic metrics, but sophisticated marketers need more. To understand what's really happening and to ensure that marketing is delivering against business objectives, marketers need cross channel analytics, optimization, attribution, and reporting with visibility to the entire funnel.
  • Analytics builds value. We've seen a significant number of acquisitions and funding rounds in the analytics and optimization space in the past year. Marketers value analytics, and that trickles down to the additive value of analytics for vendors and investors. 
  • The online marketing suite is in demand. This is yet another market move that validates the online marketing suite, Forrester's framework for coordinating interactive marketing. Content, analytics, and execution must be managed in balance as a holistic approach. All of the channels and devices that marketers have at their disposal to engage customers are fundamentally related; it is impossible to be successful with siloed or disconnected marketing.

It will be interesting to see where Hubspot goes and to what degree they can move toward an enterprise-class solution. Again, I offer my congratulations to the Performable and Hubspot teams. 

What do you think? How will this resonate with marketers? Does this put pressure on traditional marketing and analytics vendors? Who will make the next move?