This year’s Connections did not disappoint, returning to its roots with new product announcements, inspirational keynotes, and thought-provoking sessions. Not to mention DEG started off the week on cloud nine (pun intended) by receiving the most prestigious award and honor in the Marketing Cloud community (for the third time!): Partner of the Year.

Mobile-first or mobile-only? We can argue the two ideas, but we can’t argue that mobile is here to stay.

With so much to take in over those three days, we asked some of our DEG attendees to look back on the conference and share what resonated most with them. The biggest takeaways for me were:

  • Mobile-first or mobile-only? We can argue the two ideas, but what we can’t argue is that mobile is here to stay. According to Vala Afshar, Chief Digital Evangelist at Salesforce, mobile was the only category in the 2016 State of Marketing report that experienced triple-digit, year-over-year growth across all mobile applications tested. Enter: Marketing Cloud Mobile App. The application is available to all SFMC users and will change the way we interact and experience Marketing Cloud all together.
  • Salesforce spares no expense on entertainment and marketing stunts work! In addition to experiencing a once twice-in-a-lifetime music performance by Stevie Wonder – he also played at Dreamforce – I met the one and only, Fabio! However, getting to hear one of my favorite morning show hosts, Robin Roberts, give an inspirational keynote was the highlight for me.
  • Email is not dead. Another great nugget from Vala Afshar during the partner summit: Although social (or any other channel) might be cooler and more appealing than email, revenue is the coolest. In just 60-seconds on the Internet, email sends surpass all other channels by, well, a lot. See below: What happens in an Internet minute?

Did you know… 150 million emails are sent in an internet minute?

Connections 2016: Internet Minute

Cara Olson, Director of Relationship Marketing (Connections Veteran)

Connections was a great opportunity for me and my colleagues to meet with the product development teams to understand where certain feature sets – like Advertising Studio, Social Studio, Predictive Intelligence, and Audience Builder – are heading this year. This helps us match clients to beta programs of new enhancements with these tools.

Brent Walter, Marketing Automation Strategist

It was cool to see Pardot get more of a dedicated track at this Connections compared to the last. Not only were the sessions bigger, the case studies presented were more ambitious. The case study that Avvo shared about how it is using both SFMC and Pardot in conjunction with the Sales Cloud was pretty inspiring (session was called “How to Build a Marketing Automation Machine that Generates Sales-Ready Leads”). The company shared how its operations team bridged the gap between sales and marketing through themed playbooks to capture and retain leads and get them from new customer to converted customer.

There was also a theme of integration throughout the expo hall. With all the new product offerings being launched, it was evident that Salesforce is really pushing to provide a cohesive solution that integrates all apps in the platform, as well as external vendors via Hub applications. Salesforce had several hands on training desks to demo new integrations and adoption, and most of the vendors had ready examples of how their product integrated seamlessly into the SFMC workflow.

Laura Madden, Email Marketing Strategist

I enjoyed seeing clients get excited about not only email, but the possibilities of impacting the entire customer experience through thoughtful, cross-channel journeys and messaging. I saw a lot of ah-ha/lightbulb moments with my clients, and it is fun to see them geek out about this stuff as much as we do.

I also enjoyed the new “Shopping Deconstructed” model outlined in the Retail Keynote:

  •      Research and curate
  •      Buy
  •      Save and Pay
  •      Fulfill and Deliver

This gives us a new way of looking at the shopping experience in this new age of the customer.

Julie Hodges, Manager of Operations

The main message of Connections was equality. They did a great job of weaving the message of equality throughout the conference including. It is wonderful to see companies that have a large footprint standing up and advocating for what is right. What I also took away was the new look of the email platform. The rollout of Email Studio brings a sleek new look to the former ExactTarget product. Also, the blending of the different clouds is becoming more seamless, making it faster and easier to connect with customers across multiple channels

Matt Olson, Account Director

I had a great time connecting with client contacts. Our dinner on Tuesday night was very cool – nine different contacts from five different clients all sitting around a table with three DEGers and one SF AE. DEG being named partner of the year was a highlight, and it really had an impact on our clients. If they didn’t realize it before, they knew after the conference that they are working with the best.

Jeff VonSeldeneck, Business Development Director

We had some really smart and talented marketers from large well-known brands come by the booth to talk about our services. We also had a lot of visitors come by the booth because their Salesforce Account Executives suggested they do so. That’s very rewarding as a partner.

Steve DiFranco, Business Development Director

It was great to finally meet some of the clients I have talked to over the phone, and to hear them sing the praises of our email program management team.

Stephen Lambert, Team Lead, Campaign Management

It was great to put a face with a name and voice on clients that I’ve collaborated with for so long at DEG. There were lots of exciting things to come with the rollout of the Email Studio, and it was great to represent the three-time SFMC Partner of the Year at the digital marketing event of the year!

Brandey Smith, Team Lead, Program Management

The new Marketing Cloud app release looks to have some of the most impactful updates we’ve seen in a while.

Nearly everyone I met commented about DEG being the three-time SFMC Partner of the Year when they learned what company I was with. It’s pretty cool to hear that recognition over and over! I thought the DEG reception had an incredible turnout. It was great to see so many clients turn out to meet other team members and network with other DEG clients.

Robin Roberts was my favorite keynote speaker – she had an inspiring message with the right amount of humor and business relevance mixed in. One of her big takeaways was to never give up and to be willing to adapt and change when unexpected or new opportunities come along – even if it’s not what you planned or wished for. I thought this was a relevant message I can tap into often in my work here.

I’m excited for the new Marketing Cloud app and release. SFMC did a great job of getting the hype started. This release looks to have some of the most impactful and significant updates we’ve seen in awhile, and it will certainly affect the work going on in our campaign management group.

What did you think of Connections 2016?

What were your biggest takeaways from the conference? Did you feel it was better than last year?

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