Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Dell announced today that it has added Pardot marketing automation to its list of Dell Cloud Business Software applications. Other products in the suite include Salesforce.com for sales automation and customer service, Adobe EchoSign for e-signatures, AppExtremes Conga Composer for proposal creation, Dell’s own Boomi for application integration, and a Dell-built analytics platform. That is some pretty good company to keep.
Beyond the Pardot system itself, the Dell offering includes pre-built integration with the other Dell products and with Microsoft Dynamics CRM, and fixed-price implementation packages (from free to $5,000) including training, campaign development, site search setup, CRM integration, and Google AdWords integration. The Pardot system costs from $1,000 to $3,000 per month depending on the email volume, file size, and numbers of forms, landing pages, programs, and automation rules. This is the same as Pardot’s direct-sold prices. Dell also offers a 30 day free trial of Pardot.
The details of the deal are probably less important than its potential for market penetration. Dell hasn’t been on my list of potential entrants into the marketing automation space, but it certainly has a huge presence among small and mid-size businesses. This gives it the capability to add thousands of clients to Pardot’s existing base, which has just recently passed 1,000. Like Intuit’s acquisition last month of local marketing vendor Demandforce, a well-executed rollout could quickly establish a firm whose market share dwarfs existing competitors. In some ways, the Dell/Pardot deal is even more interesting than Intuit/Demandforce, because it touches the small to mid-size businesses that form the core of the B2B marketing automation client base. Intuit/Demandforce will serve many micro-businesses, while other recent deals (FICO/Entiera and Experian/Conversen) are aimed at larger, business-to-consumer marketers.
This doesn't mean an effective Dell/Pardot rollout is guaranteed. These sorts of relationships often fizzle quickly, typically because the larger company’s sales force can’t be bothered to sell the new partner’s product. That seems a bit less likely to happen in this case, since Dell’s cloud business group offers just a handful of applications and Dell has traditionally been a very effective marketer – although its recent performance has been spotty.
Whatever the result of this particular deal, it is more evidence that the B2B marketing automation industry is rapidly approaching consolidation. As deep-pocketed outside companies become active, they battle each other on a grand scale and little firms get crushed almost accidentally. It may be some time before a single victor emerges – if ever – but it’s hard to imagine many of today’s small companies remaining successful as elephants stampede all around them.