Whether I'm presenting or simply attending, I always enjoy the networking and training at top digital marketing conferences. We're a super active industry and probably blog, tweetchat, Hangout and otherwise get together online than most others, but there's still nothing better than the in-person meetings of the minds digital marketing conferences offer.
As you plan your own professional development opportunities for 2016, check out these conferences I've learned from experience are the cream of the crop:
Call to Action (CTA) Conference
The afterparties and swag are always epic with Unbounce. My friend Oli Gardner and other greats will be delivering top-knotch strategies at the largest theater in Western Canada, to over 1,000 attendees. They'll be offering free hands-on workshops to expand your marketing skillset, and I love that it's single-track. June 19-21 is when British Columbia is at its prettiest, so you really won't want to miss this.
ClickZ, SES & Search Engine Watch Connect
The SES (Search Engine Strategies) is a series I've attended for years and it's grown into a premiere digital marketing resource. Now with SES, ClickZ and Search Engine Watch Connect events each catering to different audiences and spanning the globe, you have your choice of intensive one-day workshops, inspirational keynotes from big name speakers like Google's Avinash Kaushik and Randi Zuckerberg, and in-depth sessions with experienced practitioners.
Content Marketing World
Of course, digital marketing needed an event specifically for content marketing, the discipline and tactic that's absolutely exploded over the past two years. Content Marketing World delivers in a big way, with brand marketers presenting over 80 sessions on content strategy, integration, measurement and more. It's coming up September 6-9 in Cleveland, Ohio.
Conversion Conference & Content Marketing Conference
Partner events Conversion Conference by SiteTuners and Content Marketing Conference by WriterAccess take place in the same Las Vegas venue May 17-19, making it a fantastic option for agencies and brands with different types of PD goals. Conversion Conference takes its top quality design, optimization and analytics teachings to London in October and Berlin in November, as well.
Dreamforce by Salesforce.com
Salesforce doesn't do anything small or in half measures. Dreamforce has become THE place to see and be seen in digital; it's a hotbed of inspirational talks from thought leaders, major Salesforce product announcements, and thoughtful panel and fireside on issues like women's leadership. It's a conference for businesses of all sizes, but not for the faint of heart--with over 1,500 sessions in this week-long, supercharged conference (Sept 15-18 in San Francisco), you need to go at it with a plan. Decide in advance what you want to accomplish while you're in the presence of leaders like Travis Kalanick, Marc Benioff and Satya Nadella.
HeroConf 2016 events in Philadelphia (April 25-27) and London (October 24-26) are THE PPC conferences for serious search marketers. The depth of knowledge and experience both speakers and attendees bring to this event is incredible, but I also love the atmosphere. HeroConf events are typically around 300 attendees with 4 keynotes and 40 breakout sessions, so it's one of the smaller, more intimate and hands-on conferences around. It's brought to you by Hanapin Marketing, the same brilliant crew responsible for PPCHero, so you know the quality of content is going to be top shelf.
The dates for HubSpot's late-2016 INBOUND conference have already been announced and it's one I wouldn't miss for the world! HubSpot co-founders Dharmesh Shah and Brian Halligan attracted an astonishing 10,000+ attendees to their 2015 conference in our hometown of Boston, with inspirational keynotes from Seth Godin, Brene Brown, Chelsea Clinton, Aziz Ansari and Daniel Pink. This is one of the largest digital marketing events happening right now, with pretty much unlimited networking opportunities, both organized and informal.
Inc.'s three-day event for business leaders and entrepreneurs attracts incredible speakers; on this year's lineup, Jessica Alba, Joe Gebbia, Daymond John, and Marcus Lemonis are all slated to share their perspective and experience. In fact, you'll recognize a lot of the speakers from the pages of Inc., as many staff and columnists will be in attendance from May 17-19 in Las Vegas. If you're in need of proven strategies to help your business thrive and grow this year, Inc. GrowCo is where you want to be.
Marketo Nation Summit: Tomorrow's Marketer
Marketo conferences are always interesting--they've expanded from small, intimate city-specific events to an entire summit spanning three days at the MGM in Las Vegas. Expect a ton of networking, in-depth digital marketing content, and quite a bit of flash if you can make it May 9-12.
MozCon, coming up this year from September 14-16 in Seattle, is unique in that they hand-pick their speakers. Rather than soliciting speaking pitches, they seek out top performing practitioners, up and comers, and even a few chosen by their online community. On top of those quality sessions, there's ample opportunity to meet new people and network, both at organized events like MozCrawl and MozCon Ignite, and less formally during breaks and meal times. You can be pretty sure the Wizard of Moz, Rand Fishkin, social smartie Jennifer Sable Lopez, and marketing mad hatter Dr. Pete will be there, too.
PubCon is an incredible series that started out wayyy back in 2000. Keynotes from speakers like Matt Cutts, Malcolm Gladwell, Tony Hsieh and Satya Nadella are a huge draw, but most former attendees would agree you go to PubCon for the incredible networking. Plan to spend a week in Las Vegas in the fall for this four-day deep dive (October 10-13) into all things digital and come rested--last year there were an overwhelming nine tracks to choose from!
I love that this is single track, so you don't miss any of the speakers. Prepare to be wowed by insights from industry leaders like Will Critchlow and Wil Reynolds. It's at a really nice venue--the beautiful Harvard Medical School auditorium--and has a more intimate networking environment. Distilled's SearchLove is May 3-4 in my hometown of Boston.
Search Engine Journal (SEJ) recently announced their second round of digital marketing conferences in the U.S. throughout 2016. I love that their content is really tailored for the professional search marketer. Their April 13 conference--what they're calling "A Day of Keynotes," will be in sunny Santa Monica, California. Since each event is limited to 200 attendees, grab an early bird ticket soon.
SMX East, West, Advanced & Social Pro
One of my absolute favorite conference series, MarketingLand's SMX, has been around since I founded my own business in 2007. In that time, I've watched it grow into an insanely informative series that kicks off in Silicon Valley in March with SMX West and visits Paris, London and Munich in spring and early summer. My two favorite events in this series though are SMX Advanced in Seattle, in the summer, and SMX East in New York City in the fall (and not only because it's the closest to Boston). They've also added a specialized social media marketing event called Social Pro in Vegas; stay tuned to this page for the 2016 date announcement.
Social Media Marketing World
Social Media Marketing World by Social Media Examiner is a fantastic and massive conference (with 3,000 attendees last year) happening in San Diego April 17-19. Huge names speak at this premiere social conference created by one of the world's best social media resources--think Guy Kawasaki, Mari Smith, Chris Brogan, Jay Baer, Ann Handley, Michael Stelzner and more. This conference gives you a choice of over 100 different workshops, often led by representatives from top brands like Disney, Cisco, Marriott and IBM.
Do you have another favorite digital marketing event? Share yours in the comments.