Rising Stars: The Social Mailman

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Social media is a total time suck. (Not that we’d know firsthand, of course. But we hear things.) Customers are spending more time on social sites, forcing companies to ramp up their social media interaction skills accordingly. That burgeoning need was clearly the impetus behind on-demand email marketing specialist ExactTarget’s March 2010 acquisition of CoTweet, a start-up enabling multiple operators to handle a corporate Twitter account. 

Moves such as the CoTweet deal (for a reported $8.1 million in stock) and a December venture-capital infusion of $70 million (a total of $148 million to date) may earn buzz and give ExactTarget the air of a newcomer, but the company’s a leader in its original area of expertise, email marketing—perhaps not the sexiest aspect of CRM, but still central to many marketing campaigns. And integrations with two of the leading CRM suites have earned the company nods as a top Microsoft partner and an Appy Award–winning plug-in on Salesforce.com’s AppExchange. 

Meanwhile, Forrester Research named ExactTarget to the front of the Leader segment in its most recent Forrester Wave on Email Marketing, noting the firm “has vastly expanded its organization to cater to marketers in any market segment.” 

But it’s the company’s expansion into social that really caught our attention this year—not just a knee-jerk announcement of half-baked “integration,” but authentic tools, technologies (hello, CoTweet), and processes to get the job done, weaving social efforts into a holistic approach to marketing. “Exact’s done a good job moving from email and including social in the conversation,” says Ray Wang, a partner at Altimeter Group (another of this year’s Rising Stars; see page 28). Not content to let others frame the conversation, the company has also sponsored thought leadership on defining the social Web’s various profiles and personas, and created its own hosted community, 3sixty, which the company claims now has a membership of 20,000 marketers and ExactTarget clients.

Noting Exact’s high satisfaction scores and online community, Forrester also says the firm “can successfully meet marketers’ complex business needs.” With the company’s motto expanded to reflect its wider wheelhouse—“Email. Mobile. Social. Sites.”—that’s just another way of saying ExactTarget seems to have its sights set on exactly the right target: the entirety of the social customer.  

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