E-mail services provider Responsys will announce today the acquisition of the digital creative agency Smith-Harmon in what's being characterized as an undisclosed cash-and-equity deal. The Smith-Harmon brand will remain alive -- at least in the near term -- as Responsys looks to leverage its newly gained team of designers and copywriters to pick up e-mail clients and other interactive advertising accounts.
"Their creative services are such a big positive that it's sort of a halo effect for us," said Dan Springer, CEO of the San Bruno, CA-based Responsys. "We like the idea of the combo branding... But I think over time, [the Smith-Harmon brand] will become less and less important and will probably fade away."
Springer singled out Smith-Harmon's embedded video-in-e-mail capability and social media know-how as two specifically key assets getting picked up by his firm. Also, he suggested that a wide range of campaign marketing issues like e-mail deliverability and landing page testing can now be more adeptly handled by his company.
And while Springer said that Responsys will continue working with clients' established third-party agencies, the purchase allows it to target more share of the creative design market than before. "[Clients] won't need to have a third-party agency or have any kind of project management or coordination between the two players," he said.
There's no question that Responsys looks to distance itself from an e-mail-channel-only reputation while becoming known as more of a cross-platform brand. With this in mind, Springer lauded the acquisition as a vehicle for his company to improve its strategically planned integrated marketing programs, including various online mediums, mobile, and direct mail.
Its upgraded cross-channel management assets will help power a new set of interactive marketing tools called "Interact Suite," which will also be announced today. Springer said the Smith-Harmon deal is the company's biggest acquisition since buying predictive analytics firm Loyalty Matrix two years ago.
"Smith-Harmon has more experience in deeper cross-channel work," he said. "This was an opportunity to get [talent]...not only from a volume standpoint but also in terms of quality and experience."
Springer said the deal will not affect the jobs of Smith-Harmon's more than 20 employees -- who will remain in their Seattle office. He predicted having a local presence in the Pacific Northwest will bring new accounts that Responsys's Bay area location otherwise wouldn't.
Meanwhile, the two brands were hardly strangers before today's announcement. For instance, they co-released a series of e-mail marketing studies last spring. And they already shared clients, including Orbitz, SalesForce.com, and Walt Disney Co.
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Christopher Heine was a senior writer for ClickZ through June 2012. He covered social media, sports/entertainment marketing, retail, and more. Heine's work has also appeared via Mashable, Brandweek, DM News, MarketingSherpa, and other tech- and ad-centric publications. USA Today, Bloomberg Radio, and The Los Angeles Times have cited him as an expert journalist.
March 19, 2014