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RECAP: Pilar's takeaways from the ExactTarget Connections Conference

  ExactTarget Connections 2012 –“Inspire the Future” By Pilar Bower, Email Marketing Manager, Red Door Interactive Last week I attended the ExactTarget Connections conference in Indianapolis for the 2nd year in a row.  While this conference has a (great) reputation for entertainment, big name keynotes, concerts, and very little sleep, it also provides user education, inspiration and relevant content. As Email Marketing Manager at Red Door, I attend the  Academy Day of the conference to get certification in key areas of Email Marketing.  If you use ExactTarget and execute email campaigns, I highly recommend this part of the conference. This year I attended the Email Deliverability Certification class (and passed the exam!).  Inbox Deliverability is extremely important and should be top of mind for anyone with an email program.  It doesn’t matter how strategic your emails are if they aren’t getting to the intended recipients, and there are many factors that can affect this process.  What you do need to know is that subscriber engagement and consistent list management is very important to your sender reputation.  I know this can seem like an overwhelming subject, but do not ignore it.  Be on the lookout for a follow up post from me focused on Email Deliverability, or if you have any questions you can contact me at pbower@reddoor.biz. Now, on to some takeaways from the rest of the conference - with 4,000 attendees from all over the globe, and tracks for every level and focus area, there are many sessions to choose from. My favorite moments were from the opening day keynotes and panels.  The overall theme was “Inspire the Future” and I can say that I came away inspired.

1.      
ExactTarget specific users will be excited about the introduction of ExactTarget’s platform improvements, especially the “Playbooks.”  These step-by-step program set-up tools for important email programs will make things much easier to execute (examples: Mobile opt-in, Welcome Series, Birthday emails, Win-back campaigns).  I also can’t wait to dig into “SocialPages™ Partner Gears” with our Social Media Strategist – “a continually expanding toolkit of apps that helps you streamline your social media management into a single, integrated platform.”

2.      
CMO Panel: Inspiration and the Future CM - This panel gave insights into the evolving roles that Marketing has in organizations.  A few takeaways I took note of:

  • Make sure the brand people are perceiving is what you are delivering.
  • CMOs and CIOs should be “best friends” – the synergy needs to real, not just talk.
  • Create a Test & Learn culture – Test, Test, Test.  Take calculated risks.
  • If you do, you don’t measure. If you measure, you don’t do. (roles & responsibilities)
  • See full video of panel

3.      
Michael J. Fox While it’s easy to get caught up in a celebrity keynote, it was special to have Michael J. Fox present.  Many people grew up with him, and while his role as Marty McFly inspired some futuristic moments, it is his current role that is most impactful. I didn’t take any notes during his speech (or tweet or check my phone) as I wanted to soak it in right in the moment, but I do remember his tip to “look at your goals before your methodology.” This can apply to so many things, and it is a good reminder of what we should be doing and recommending for our clients on a daily basis.  The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research is an amazing example of how he puts his words into action. As a user of multiple ESPs including ExactTarget, this conference stays with me all year as it truly creates Connections – with people, with the platform, and with the future. I bring back knowledge not only on capabilities to use for our ExactTarget specific users, but overall insight into upcoming digital trends and innovative ideas on what we can do for our clients. To learn more about the conference, ExactTarget has an “Experience Connections” page on their blog with recaps, videos, and more.
The Delorean from “Back to the Future” was also present at the conference!

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