CFO World

What’s next for Campaign Monitor and CM Group’s family of martech brands

CM Group chief talks to CMO about how the martech vendor's portfolio of brands is expanding and the customer and growth ambitions behind its acquisitions and innovation efforts


Marketers can expect to see Campaign Monitor complete another meaningful acquisition by the end of the year as parent company, CM Group, looks to accelerate growth across its family of martech offerings.

Speaking to CMO in an exclusive Australian interview this week, CM Group chief, Wellford Dillard, said the group’s strategy is to assemble a collection of distinctive brands helping support marketers as they transform and mature their marketing and company strategy. It’s an approach he claimed contrasted with the rise of unified enterprise martech platforms today, and one that puts the emphasis on customer retention.

To get there, Dillard said CM plans to acquire more brands as well as invest in building fresh capabilities. These are designed to not only complement existing offerings, but to add breadth and depth to the portfolio, such as new features that can be integrated across different platforms.

Wellford Dillard
Wellford Dillard


One acquisition already underway is aimed at growing the breadth of its flagship email management product, Campaign Monitor. Dillard also flagged further innovation from an analytics standpoint, bringing more artificial intelligence (AI) capability to the platform.

“We will continue to add breadth to each of our platforms, either by building or buying,” Dillard said. “We have another meaningful acquisition for Campaign Monitor in the next 3-6 months and have built clarity on what we are going after. We will have something big on that front soon.”

Campaign Monitor, an email management platform aimed at small to mid-tier marketing teams, was founded in Australia in 2006 and quickly proved a hit. In 2014, company founders, Dave Greiner and Ben Richardson, sold a $348 million stake to private equity firms, Insight Venture Partners and Accel Partners, and took on US$160m in debt in order to pursue more acquisitions. These included customer data management offering, Tagga, and survey tool, GetFeedback.

At the time, Campaign Monitor boasted of more than 200,000 customers including Apple, Adidas and Vice Media.

In 2017, the founders stepped down and Campaign Monitor became one of three platform offerings under the new-look CM Group alongside Emma, an email and digital marketing executive platform; and Delivra, a marketing automation solution. The Nashville-headquartered business now has offices across the US as well as in Australia, the UK, New Zealand and Uruguay.

And the family of brands has continued to expand. In January, the CM Group acquired Sailthru, a cross-channel experience management platform, as well as LiveClicker, a real-time email personalisation solution. The deal added nearly US$60 million in revenue and 540 new customers globally. In May, CM Group also acquired Vuture, a dominant cross-channel marketing platform specifically for legal and professional services firms.

Coinciding with the Vuture deal was a $410 million financing round to pay off debt and refinance the group while topping up the war chest to pursue more acquisitions and accelerate growth.  

Dillard noted the global market for email service providers (ESP) is worth about US$3.4 billion and growing at 8-9 per cent annually. About half of growth comes from pricing growth, list and email volume.

“Email is an established technology, and no one comes to the business asking us for more about electronic mail. So the fastest way to effectively grow is by not losing the customers you have,” he said.  “We see a lot of undifferentiated mid-market ESPs and brands constantly trying to innovate, and add breadth to the platform. But as you do that and stretch into new areas such as ecommerce, you end up leaving your customer base behind.”

Dillard claimed a number of CM’s competitors were going that way. “In contrast, we are assembling a family of brands that help take marketers on a journey,” he continued.

“What if you grow the business by creating a path for them to go on the journey, from the self-service that comes from Campaign Monitor, to adding marketing automation, which we build the connectors to, to doing personalisation, all while having a consistent customer experience?

“Our customer acquisition costs become more efficient, as we can pass leads across the businesses, and our lifetime customer value becomes longer and our relationship stronger because we grow together as we help them on this journey.”

Finding the right martech fit

Dillard pointed out customers across CM’s portfolio vary depending by brand. Campaign Monitor, a self-service offering, resonates well with marketing teams focused on newsletters, not-for-profits and publishers, while Emma’s sweet spot is those starting to undertake more personalisation and organisations that are generally larger, he said. Emma also offers functionality for franchises and distributor organisations. Delivra’s marketing automation opens up the B2B space, and Sailthru is pitched at large enterprise customers and a much wider marketing play.

“We want to have a home that helps marketers grow their businesses. It’s great if they outgrow the initial platforms as we’re taking them on the journey to the next one,” Dillard said.

Informing CM’s acquisition strategy, therefore, is a focus on where customers churning out of the group or across all platforms, and leads CM can’t fit to an opportunity with existing offerings, Dillard said.  

“The convergence of these two things is the perfect place for us to think about M&A or innovation,” he said. “As the martech world continues to evolve, we also try to look beyond the hottest things now to bring into those stacks.”

Dillard said the hardest challenge internally is changing each acquired business’ “muscle memory” to be group-led. To help, CM has introduced incentives and is retraining account managers and sales people to modify behaviours and recognise business across platforms. The group also brought together customer success teams under one leader to foster a sense of shared success.

“It’s the hard part: Retaining the culture of the business that made it great and successful, but at the same time, working to ensure the common thread running through each business so there is an ‘us’ mentality,” he said.

Another priority for CM Group is brand identity, and identifying where to keep brands as distinct offerings, versus products within an integrated offering.

“We have brands with tremendous brand recognition – Campaign Monitor for example. We are very focused on retaining that equity, and to leverage that strength to bring these other businesses into that fold,” he said. “It’s an exercise we’re going through right now as we solve the bigger branding story.

“From a customer perspective, things have changed so rapidly adding in Sailthru and Vuture. So it’s been about reaching out to customers where we know we have a much better home for them. We can sit through each of our businesses, go through the customer lists, and we know by vertical or size they should be sitting somewhere else. That’s how we are helping customers as it stands today.

“As we do smaller, innovation tech acquisitions, how to bring those into the businesses and potentially become elements of a product, rather than standalone brands, is the big question. Ultimately, these brands could become products under Campaign Monitor. These are the questions we are working through right now.”  

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