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IBM Corp. is scooping up Silverpop Systems Inc., a marketing automation software provider based in the U.S., as part of its bid to bolster its marketing offerings. It did not disclose the terms of the deal.

In acquiring Silverpop, IBM is making more moves into the marketing space because marketers have bigger IT budgets, writes Barb Darrow for GigaOm. With these bigger budgets comes higher expectations, with marketers changing from a “spray and pray” strategy to a more targeted, personalized campaign when they try to make pitches to customers.

Silverpop helps fill that gap by pulling data from different sources, slotting it into a “universal customer profile,” and then building a campaign that works for mobile text messages and email. While Unica, another IBM acquisition, also does something similar, Silverpop is touted as being much more intuitive to use. IBM’s other marketing-focused acquisitions include Core Metrics and DemandTech.

The plan is to bundle some of these acquisitions together into one software-as-a-service (SaaS) suite, said Kevin Bishop, IBM’s vice-president of enterprise marketing, in the GigaOm story.

However, IBM isn’t the only large company hoping to gain some traction with marketers this way. Last year, Oracle Corp. did something similar when it acquired Responsys, and it also acquired Eloqua two years ago in an effort to boost its marketing powers. Salesforce Inc. also acquired ExactTarget last year, and SAP has just signed on with Adobe Systems Inc. to resell the Adobe Marketing Cloud.

Nor is the mass foray into marketing automation set to stop any time soon, said R. “Ray” Wang, an analyst with Constellation Research, with more deals likely to be announced in the next year and a half. Line-of-business managers – including those overseeing human resources, accounting, and marketing – are still going to be spending, and they’ll be turning their attention towards SaaS offerings.

Meanwhile, large-scale general marketing campaigns are falling out of favour, especially as consumers don’t seem to trust marketing emails and website advertising – but targeted messages might make some difference.

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