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Vocus Acquires iContact, Plans Integrated Marketing Software Suite for SMBs

By Matt McKenzie, Contributing Editor

Marketing software provider Vocus announced last week that it had acquired iContact, a provider of cloud-based email and social marketing software. The $159 million purchase is expected to be of particular interest to B2B marketers working at small and midsized firms — the primary target market for both companies today.

Vocus originated as a provider of software and services to PR professionals. In recent years, however, the company expanded its cloud-based offering to include a broader suite of marketing-oriented products that embrace social media, search, and publicity tools (including its 2006 purchase of PRWeb) designed for marketers as small and midsized firms.

Adding Email Marketing Capabilities
"We saw the potential to bring these things together in a marketing suite – to combine social marketing, search marketing, and publicity," Vocus EVP and COO Bill Wagner told DemandGen Report. "If you do social right you can identify people you don't know, and then turn them into leads."

According to Wagner, Vocus concluded that email marketing represented a logical extension of the company's strategy. "The [existing] product was great for people you don't know, but how do you market to existing customers? "That's where email comes in – and it provides a very compelling suite of products that's built mainly for marketing pros, not PR pros."

"What's interesting about iContact is its large base of mid-market customers – not just small business," Wagner added. "We're building a suite for small and midsized companies, so it was a perfect match."

In addition to providing a cloud-based set of tools for creating and managing email marketing campaigns, iContact offers integration with Facebook and Twitter, allowing users to launch coordinated email and social media marketing campaigns. According to a Vocus press release, iContact customers will have the option of using the company's product on a stand-alone basis or migrating to an integrated Vocus-iContact solution that will be available later this year.

B2B Marketing For SMB Customers
Wagner stated that while Vocus is focused on the SMB market, more than half of the company's customers are B2B companies. For these B2B marketers, he said, there's a real need for an integrated marketing solution that falls in between entry-level tools and full-scale enterprise marketing automation offerings.

"We're trying to position ourselves between low-end, stand-alone products and enterprise suites," Wagner said. "We believe an integrated suite is important in terms of better ROI and more coordinated campaigns. But we don't want to be an enterprise solution that requires a great deal of integration or support – this is designed to be a do-it-yourself solution."