Why I’m excited about the Salesforce acquisition of ExactTarget/Pardot

As a B2B and demand-generation marketer, the news of Salesforce buying ExactTarget – and by extension, Pardot – for $2.5 billion shot me straight to my computer like a rocket. As a lover of marketing automation, my head is exploding as I think about how quickly this will allow Pardot to capture market share and improve on its offering.

I didn’t always love marketing automation, and I didn’t always love Pardot.

I started using Pardot in fall 2011, and my first exposure was pretty darn painful. My employer at the time had hastily installed Pardot, without thinking through or testing its integration with SugarCRM and home-grown backend systems. As the new demand-generation manager, I inherited a complicated mess.

Added to this mix, I was frustrated by a lack of features in Pardot … problems with the GotoWebinar integration, problems with not being able to easily segment out email responders from nonresponders, problems with lots of little things that kept me from being able to do the kind of sophisticated marketing that marketing-automation software is supposed to facilitate.

But then an amazing thing happened.

Over the next year, Pardot developers quickly released wave after wave after wave of new features that solved all my biggest complaints one by one. I was won over by Pardot’s amazing and amazingly sweet customer-support team that always bent over backwards to answer my questions and solve my challenges.
And right after ExactTarget’s acquisition of Pardot, I spoke at Pardot’s Elevate 2012 user conference, where I applauded loudly at their product roadmap and walked away with a permanent soft spot in my heart for the company. Pardot has a truly great group of employees that puts the customer first.

In terms of features and functionality, Pardot still lags Marketo and Eloqua when it comes to sophistication. But with all the additional money and market share that the Salesforce acquisition will bring, I predict that Pardot will quickly catch Marketo and Eloqua when it comes to its technical capabilities.

I’m excited to see how this plays out in the marketplace – but I’m even more excited to see what it means in terms of better offerings for marketers like me.