The reason ExactTarget is so widely used, is because it’s owned by Salesforce.
Salesforce is worth 100 billion dollars and is a ginormous sales machine. Their events are mind-altering cool, their stocks are going up and everyone just falls in love with the whole brand.
And sure enough, Salesforce.com, the CRM system, is one of the most versatile business platforms out there. It takes a strong effort to set it up effectively and it’s hard to keep using it effectively – but there’s a ton of businesses that are very happy with it.
Acquisitions are not developed enough
The same cannot be said for the acquisitions that Salesforce has made over the years – including ExactTarget and Pardot (the latter being bought by the former, before both of them were bought by Salesforce).
The problem with all these major acquisitions is that they’re expensive – and for a company that’s either run by investors or shareholders, earning that money back (with interest!) is a prime concern.
This inevitably leads to acquired platforms being less and less supported and developed, but instead focus is shifted to selling as many licenses as possible. Ask any of the “pre-acquisition” users for platforms like Pardot or ExactTarget (or Oracle Eloqua for that matter) if they feel like the platform has progressed significantly since the acquisition. The answer you’ll get is: “It was so promising, but now it’s being used as a cash cow.”
So why is ExactTarget so widely used?
So, to answer your question: ExactTarget is so widely used, because Salesforce markets and sells the sh*t out of it. It’s presented as a marketer’s dream that can do anything you want.
Sure, it’s powerful, but it’s a beast to work with. It also doesn’t help that Salesforce says it’s perfectly fine for mid-market businesses – but it’s clearly not (and if that’s you, you should check out Net-Results instead).
It’s interesting, but concerning, that a company like Salesforce has now become the exact thing they set out to challenge: a big software company that locks customers into big, multi-year contracts and values shareholders over customers.