This week I will be attending my sixth ExactTarget Connections conference. I’m as much a veteran of this conference as anyone and still look forward to the keynotes, break-out session tracks, and presentations. ExactTarget has packed a lot into just a few days, and I can guarantee that you’ll be well educated and incredibly entertained, as well.

But it’s the little details that make the difference between an ExactTarget conference and any other marketing conference—those little things you begin to look forward to after you’ve been in this space for a while. You hear rumors throughout the year or pick up on hints from different places, and Connections is the best bet for seeing your suspicions confirmed.

As a Connections veteran, I have my suspicions about what’s going to happen this year. Here’s what I’m looking forward to:

1. ExactTarget will unveil a more robust partnership with ReturnPath.
Day One typically kicks off with keynote presentations from both Scott Dorsey and Scott McCorkle focusing on the future of ExactTarget and product innovations. Recently ReturnPath launched a new product called Inbox Insight that offers emerging email metrics like read rate and deleted unread, in addition to insights on your competition’s email programs. With ReturnPath’s Connections sponsorship level much higher than years past, I predict their products will be more closely integrated with ExactTarget than ever before.

2. Day One will leave you crying.
In keeping with the conference theme “Inspire the Future,” day one’s sessions wrap up with a keynote presentation from Michael J. Fox. Pack your Kleenex, because I’m sure Fox’s inspirational story here won’t leave a dry eye in the house. Expect 90 minutes of humor and humility from the actor that is synonymous with driving a Delorean 88 mph, and who is leading the charge to find a cure for Parkinson’s disease by raising nearly $300 million. Given his remarkable story, I am quite sure his words will make you both laugh and cry.

3. Content will be centered on email and mobile.
If last year’s Connections was focused around email and social, this year the focus will be all about the marriage of email and mobile. Day Two offers 48 sessions via eight tracks, so whether you are a beginner or an experienced coder, there is something that will change how you work. Given the advances in digital marketing over the last year, marketers are far more sophisticated in their email programs and are looking to opportunities to better acquire and engage subscribers on the go. Sessions beyond the beginner track will assume more than a base level of mobile marketing savvy and offer more advanced case studies, solutions, and innovations.

4. You will wish you had banked more sleep.
ExactTarget will have you busy from 8 a.m. to midnight. It’s exhausting but rewarding and you won’t want to miss any of it. The evening event on Day One (Tuesday) is a “hub crawl” with different partners sponsoring different parties. Here’s a shameless plug: After the opening reception, join the DEG crew at Sensu nightclub for drinks and dancing to celebrate our clients.

And what are we celebrating? Simple:Our clients. We love our clients so much we are bringing them to you! At the conference you’ll have the chance to enter to win prizes from our amazing clients and one of our grand prizes, two concert tickets from AXS, will be awarded at our party. Even if you don’t win concert tickets, we have more great giveaways including diamond stud earrings from Helzberg Diamonds, gift cards from Life is Good, Purina, Bag Borrow or Steal, Crocs, Rockport, and amazing prize packs from Cabela’s.

Trust me on this: In addition to being the best in the ExactTarget business, we throw a great party. Get some sleep before the conference, because there is no rest for the weary at Connections.

5. David Blaine will make Joel Book disappear.
Sending emails that render correctly in Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook and more on the desktop, iPad and phones can seem to require magic. On Day Three, David Blaine will perform some magic of his own to close out Connections with a bang. Perhaps he will make the infamous Joel Book disappear on stage! That would be “KOA.” Immediately following, all attendees really will disappear as the conference that takes a year to plan will come to a close.

More than anyone else in my experience, ExactTarget rolls out the red carpet for their attendees. In addition to being a unique learning experience, Connections promises to be a huge amount of fun. Leave a comment and let me know what you are expecting out of Connections!

Or better yet, come by the DEG booth and introduce yourself. We’d love to get to know you better and find out how DEG can help you achieve your goals.

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