Note: The current climate has led (or will likely lead) to the postponement or cancellation of most, if not all, of the digital marketing conferences featured below. Having said that, many of these events, such as MarTech West, are transitioning online for virtual editions. We’ll be sure to provide updates on these top marketing conferences as info becomes available.
The best digital marketing conferences are not the ones where you get the best swag (though it doesn’t hurt), hear keynote speakers from totally random fields (though they are often interesting), or network with fellow industry insiders (though that can be beneficial).
Rather, the best digital marketing conferences are the ones at which you glean valuable, actionable, eye-opening insights you can use to improve your strategy the moment you leave the convention floor. (Well, not right, right away, but you get the picture.)
We know you, like most expert marketers, have limited time, budget, and resources — enough to attend a few of the myriad digital marketing conferences that take place each year throughout North America, Europe, and elsewhere around the globe (if you’re lucky).
So, instead of listing dozens of the top marketing events — some of which may cost a pretty penny simply to fly to — we’ve narrowed our list down to the cream-of-the-crop ones — including the best marketing conferences where you’ll often find the #BlueCrew.
The best digital marketing conferences to attend in 2020 (and the years ahead)
A quick note about these events: There are numerous niche digital marketing conferences (too many to count) that focus on marketing automation, search engine optimization, content creation, video marketing, and similar digital approaches and concepts.
Other popular marketing conferences — from Content Marketing World and MozCon top Social Media Marketing World— are certainly more than worth the price of admission.
The digital marketing conferences below, though, are geared more toward marketers looking to learn the latest about emerging martech platforms, trends, and best practices.
With that out of the way, here’s our list of what we deem the best digital marketing conferences around — ones you could and should attend with your teams and leadership.
(UPDATE: MarTech West 2020 may’ve been canceled, but the folks behind the conference were able to put together an incredible three-day virtual event. Check out our recap of Discover MarTech 2020, including insights from all keynote sessions.)
MarTech Conference Chair Scott Brinker (a.k.a. ChiefMarTec) said it best when describing the many benefits of the renowned digital conference: “We have to rethink how we manage the marketing organization and really embrace actually a much broader vision for what marketing can and should be.”
It’s always good to take a step back from your marketing strategy once in a while. In fact, doing so at events like The Marketing Technology Conference can allow you to get insights from those who’ve mastered the use of emerging and proven tech solutions to power their own online efforts.
At both iterations of this digital marketing conference — MarTech West in San Jose and MarTech East in Boston — you’ll discover how to infuse the right technologies into your marketing. From deep-dive workshops with marketing technologists and strategists to high-level discussions with CMOs, you’ll come away from the event more empowered.
BONUS: Read our MarTech East 2019 recap to discover martech insights shared at this edition of the digital marketing conference — including from our session.
Preparing for the California Consumer Privacy Act. Understanding the value of “people-based” marketing. Finding out how to craft narratives with customer data. RampUp is the event where marketers go not just to hear about trends, but also to learn how those trends actually impact their marketing programs — and from countless knowledgeable thought leaders.
The overarching focus for this esteemed digital marketing conference relates to adtech and platforms marketers can use to enhance the value of (and reduce the spend around) their advertising campaigns.
Having said that, marketing professionals who attend are privy to a number of other relevant and timely industry topics and common pain points. Case in point: BlueConic’s Cory Munchbach attended RampUp in early 2019 to speak about identity resolution and its relationship with customer experience.
The research and advisory firm covers a multitude of industries and roles: from risk management and supply chain to human resources and IT. Every report the company releases — including and especially its market guides, like those for CDPs — is filled with incredibly useful information.
Thus, it shouldn’t surprise anyone Gartner events geared toward professionals in these fields are equally impressive. Take the Marketing Symposium/Xpo, for instance, which has become a premier digital marketing conference “designed to address the shifts and chaos marketing leaders face every day.”
Want to hear team structure best practices from likeminded CMOs and industry experts? Curious how other marketing VPs allocate quarterly spend? Want to learn your proficiency with platforms like CDPs? Head to this three-day convention, and you’ll get the ideas and answers you’re looking for.
As with the aforementioned consulting firm, there are a variety of unique Forrester events geared toward members of the C-suite looking for guidance on major strategic business decisions.
The CX Forums provide expert advice for business leaders on how to develop a world-class customer experience that exceeds that of the competition. Meanwhile, the Digital Transformation Forums aim to enlighten execs on how to infuse AI and machine learning into their brands’ marketing efforts.
The one event type that applies to all marketers, though, is Forrester’s Marketing Forums. These seminars help marketing managers, CMOs, and others in similar roles learn how to better orchestrate customer lifecycle marketing strategies based on their customers’ journeys.
Some digital marketing conferences take place once or twice each year and feature dozens of inspiring sessions and speakers. The Innovation Enterprise takes a different approach, with several informative summits with lots of distinct workshops year-round.
For instance, data scientists and marketing operations specialists can learn how to better provide the right data to their teams and maximize performance with the right customer databases at summits like DATAx and the Predictive Analytics Innovation Summit.
With events taking place every month, across practically every continent, and in many international cities, there are plenty of opportunities to hear from and speak with innovative minds about data-driven marketing initiatives — and find out how to elevate your own.
Digiday regularly breaks down complex subjects in the digital marketing and media landscapes. What some don’t realize is the brand also hosts its own series of mini conferences for marketers, publishers, and advertisers in just about every sector.
Retail professionals can learn how to augment their individualized customer marketing in forums like The Age of E-Commerce. Similarly, DTC marketers can secure tickets to the Brand Summit to educate themselves on topics around measurement, partnerships, and personalization.
Other digital marketing events cover more distinct themes and topics: from programmatic advertising and media buying to modern retail trends. (In other words, the tactics and techniques of growing importance to marketing pros today.)
“Growth marketing” used to be one of those trendy, buzzword terms without a clearcut definition. Today, though, growth marketing is the blueprint for data-driven marketing professionals everywhere.
With three editions of its highly regarded digital marketing conference held annually, you have three chances to attend master classes at these events and grow your knowledge about customer acquisition, data activation, loyalty programs, and other topics of interest for both B2B and B2C brands alike.
Whether you want to hear other brands’ solutions for high-level pain points related to enterprise growth or organic and paid marketing optimization best practices, the Growth Marketing Conference has a little something to offer every marketer.
When the likes of Seth Godin, Ann Handley, Gary Vaynerchuk, and Steve Wozniak have sufficient praise for your digital marketing conference series, you know you’re doing something right.
The entire online marketing spectrum is covered in the agenda at each Digital Summit, of which there are many that occur across the U.S. Tips and tricks for triggered email campaigns, advice for unlocking greater social media ROI, and lessons in modern lead gen are just some of the typical sessions.
If the digital marketing summit series wasn’t enough, the organizers behind it have a robust resources section for existing and aspiring marketers to offer ideas and inspiration.
The best digital marketing conferences offer ample networking opportunities, access to interesting SaaS solutions, and answers to your most pressing questions. When you go to INBOUND, though, you get much more. You get a unique experience unlike any other marketing event.
HubSpot took the tech conference game to a whole new level with INBOUND. There was a sizable crowd at the inaugural version in 2012. Today, though, the company hosts more than 24,000 guests from 100-plus countries. Its impact on the global marketing community has been considerable.
The HubSpot INBOUND Conference focuses plenty on the data side of modern marketing (as it should). However, the company also ensures the human element is showcased throughout events within the event, like with the success stories shared in its INBOUND Studio series.
The marketing industry has seen its fair share of changes in the 2010s. One of the most notable changes is the increased importance of leveraging marketing analytics in just about every role.
Content creators, social strategists, and SEO specialists all turn to marketing analytics to ensure campaigns and messaging are executed as expected and deliver the desired ROI. Enter the Marketing Analytics Conference, which features data-minded marketers from the biggest brands worldwide.
Workshops on how to improve customer engagement, identify high-value customers, and integrate data for cross-channel marketing are just some of the key sessions. While data scientists arguably have the most to gain from this event, other marketers can benefit from going too.
Alright, fine: We snuck in one niche digital marketing conference in here. But given targeted advertising isn’t going anywhere — another way to put it: It’s vital for just about every organization today — it’s certainly an important marketing event to feature here (and for you to attend).
Marketing executives from agencies, publishers, media companies, and adtech firms come to Programmatic I/O to discover how they can improve their bidding strategies and advertising ROI.
Themes from Programmatic I/O 2018 included how to navigate data regulations, improved viewability standards, and emerging advertising trends, like audio ads via smart-home tech and video ads.
Touted as the “largest free marketing event,” GX Connect is the leading digital marketing conference in The Netherlands. Instead of hearing solely high-level ideas, attendees of this convention can discover specific strategies implemented by many household-name brands.
Securing more sales via email, improving conversions through personalization, and the growing need for 360-degree customer profiles were some topics from the most recent edition of GX Connect.
The overarching theme generally pertains to the technological barriers in front of marketers today — including the adoption of the right marketing technologies. If you need assistance with modifying and maximizing your martech stack, GX Connect and its insightful programs and speakers can help.
The Digital Marketing Expo and Conference is another European tech conference (based in Cologne, Germany) that also features an established international audience of marketing professionals.
There are three main facets of the marketing event attendees flock to each year:
- The Congress Stage features marketing leaders from all over, who discuss groundbreaking topics. Sheryl Sandberg and Jack Dorsey have spoken on this stage before.
- The Experience Stage provides attendees a glimpse into the pioneering marketing tech tools that can help their organizations’ strategies scale smartly.
- The Debate Stage affords guest speakers the chance to share their opinions (usually strong ones) on controversial topics and relevant themes of interest to the crowd.
And if none of those interest you, the expo floor is where you’ll find innovative brands from around the globe. In short, there’s something for every marketer at DMEXCO.
BONUS: Industry-specific digital marketing conferences to know
The digital marketing conferences above essentially apply to just about any marketing professional in any industry. The tech conferences below, meanwhile, are more industry-specific.
Media & Publishing: FUSE Media Summit
Not all digital marketing conferences are pitch-heavy — that is, not all feature endless streams of brands selling this and that. Some, like Publishing Executive’s FUSE Media Summit, focus on (gasp!) casual conversations and idea-shares with fellow media and marketing minds.
Cutting through the noise is the central theme for this popular event for marketers in media and publishing. Peer-to-peer group sessions, one-to-one talks, and “boardroom” case study chats are the types of interactions you’ll find at this acclaimed digital conference.
What’s more, you may even find the BlueConic team here, as we’ve attended in the past. Specifically we’ve joined keynote panels in recent years, including this one on media industry disruption.
Retail & Ecommerce: eTail Conference
Transformation for retail, ecommerce, and bricks-and-clicks brands has been well-documented in recent years. We’ve even written how these brands can establish and evolve their ecommerce marketing strategies to thrive in the new digital-first landscape today.
Sometimes, though, it’s good to get out in the real world — and attend conferences like eTail — to hear from those in the space (competing and similar brands) react and adjust to a rapidly changing industry.
With eTail East in Boston and eTail West in Palm Springs, along with its invitation-only Connect series, commerce marketers — including those at DTC brands — have a wealth of resources at their disposal to learn how to better connect with, convert, and retain their customers.
Travel & Hospitality: Skift Global Forums
Even the preeminent brands in the travel-and-hospitality space — Airbnb, Marriott, TripAdvisor, and the like — need to stay up to speed on consumers’ digital preferences for booking accommodations and general customer experiences with their brands afterward.
Enter the Skift Global Forums series, which focuses on “defining the future of travel.” Berlin, New York, London, Singapore, and an array of other international cities host versions of this marketing conference.
Marketing professionals working for airlines, destination-marketing organizations, hotels, restaurants, and countless other T&H entities can hear how others in the sector continue to alter their approaches to meet consumer demands and continue to grow their businesses.
Watch our MarTech East 2019 session, hosted by BlueConic COO Cory Munchbach and featuring two of our customers, America’s Test Kitchen and Franklin Sports.