Last week I had the opportunity to attend ExactTarget's 6th annual Connections User Conference. Bringing together over 4000 clients, partners and other attendees from across the globe, the name proved an apt fit.
With an eye trained on the horizon and a fitting theme to boot - "Inspire the Future" - the message at Connections resonated loudly. From the opening video, which was broadcast on quite possibly the largest video screens I have ever seen, to the keynote address by Scott Dorsey and his vision for the future, the atmosphere was electric.
As I sat there on Tuesday, I almost couldn't contain my excitement, especially with the recent news that iGoDigital had been acquired and that we were now a part of the growing ExactTarget family. From the time spent in our booth, speaking with interested companies and sharing the iGoDigital/ExactTarget story, in addition to the one or two sessions I was able to attend I noticed several core ideas bubbling to the surface.
BIG Data is here to stay - The marketing of today and of the future must be accountable to the numbers. Fortunately there is more data than ever to aid in effective messaging and campaigns. It is important for companies to use this in the right way and partner with the experts in handling this data where their own capabilities fall short.
- The shift to digital is not just a fad - With more people logging on to source their information or complete their transactions each day/month/year, it is a must for marketers embrace the technology that is out there. Email is still king, but mobile devices and social media booms have changed the way consumers download and ever prefer to access information.
- Strike the balance - While it almost seems to contradict the previous point, leveraging communications across all channels, even traditional marketing outlets, is still key. While the digital wave has certainly lessened the impact of any one channel, the fact remains that consumers are interacting with your brand or company across all mediums. So a cross-channel communications strategy that focuses on the customer is paramount.
- Make it personal - A stated goal of ExactTarget (and iGoDigital) is to tailor each communication to the individual creating a 1:1 message. By engaging your customer in such fashion, whether via Email, the Web, mobile or social, marketers are able to delight their customers. Just think about the last time you felt a company listened to your preferences and showed you your value to them.
- Find the inspiration around you - enough said.
Thursday was the final day of the show complete with an amazing closing keynote from magician, David Blaine. Speaking to the theme of the week, he outlined how inspirational figures played and continue to play a pivotal role in his life (and of course did some incredible magic).
Once I picked my jaw up off the floor, I began to reflect on the past few days of the show - the amazing products that were introduced, the innovation taking place, the ambitious people I met - truly "Inspire the Future" was the right sentiment to encapsulate all that happened. But, if I could make one addendum, a sub-title of sorts, it would be this:
"Inspire the Future - Because the Future is Now!"