20 Top Marketing Conferences to Stay Competitive in 2020

20 Top Marketing Conferences to Stay Competitive in 2020

Has your team identified which marketing conferences will help you stay competitive and grow professionally in 2020? With the end of the year fast approaching, it’s a good idea to make your plans for next year now. We’ve rounded up 20 of the top can’t-miss marketing events for marketers. With hundreds of conferences to choose from, we’ve selected our list based on speaker lineups, agendas, and overall networking opportunities. Happy conferencing!

CES

CES (formerly known as Consumer Electronics Show) is far more than a marketing conference—it’s a technology conference attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world to Las Vegas. As far as global events for marketing executives, this is one you may not want to miss. For decades now, CES has been a place for splashy launches, attracting innovative thinkers and business leaders alike, from companies like Honda, Mercedes Benz, Google, Samsung, and KitchenAid. As the proving ground for innovators and breakthrough technologies, the conference offers 30 Innovation Award categories. This coming year, the keynote will be delivered by Meg Whitman—now CEO of Jeffrey Katzenberg’s mobile video streaming service Quibi—and attendees can expect to hear about a wide variety of topics such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and the future of mobility.

Mobile Growth Summit

Mobile Growth Summit, one of the largest mobile-focused conferences in the world, takes place over two days in San Francisco and is 100 percent focused on mobile user acquisition, monetization, retention, engagement, data science, and analytics. With a significant mCommerce component, the lineup of over 100 speakers includes mobile app marketing industry leaders from companies such as Google and Blizzard Entertainment. There’s always a big gaming crowd at this summit, and as marketing for mobile games gets more and more sophisticated, it’s worth hearing how these companies are investing deeply in consumer insights and cultivating profitable customer relationships. 

B2B Marketing Exchange

The B2B Marketing Exchange is an intimate gathering of 1,000 or so industry leaders who want to network and exchange ideas with one another. The event features a CMO Mentor Program and the #B2BMXpert Bar, which matches B2B marketers one-on-one with experts in their areas of interest. The conference offers six tracks: Content2Conversion, Demand Gen Summit, Digital Strategies ABM In Action Live!, Sales Impact Summit, and Channel Marketer. Over the years, the B2B Marketing Exchange has also raised awareness and funding for nonprofits such as The Pajama Program, K9s for Warriors, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN), and Girls in Tech. 

The Gathering

In its seventh year now, the Gathering is sort of a “non-conference” conference, with an air of mystique that adds to its appeal. Each winter, a selective group of brand leaders (1,000 or so) comes together in Banff—in the middle of the Canadian Rockies—to celebrate achievements in marketing and to share best practices. (Think of it as the Davos of marketing.) Recent guests have included brand leaders from Yeti, The North Face, Marvel, Cheetos, Vans, Molson, M&M’s, LA Lakers, LUSH, and Porsche. With recent appearances by iconoclasts like skateboarder Tony Hawk, participants say they don’t “network” per se; rather they talk about big-picture brand ideas, like how to connect with consumers on an emotional level.

SXSW

Now over three decades old—and with its roots in music and entertainment—South by Southwest (SXSW) has featured keynotes from such luminaries as Michelle Shocked and Bozoma St. John. With dozens of tracks including Gaming, Technology, Advertising and Brand Experience, SXSW attracts creative people from around the globe who come to meet, learn, and share ideas. The show is an interesting intersection of creativity and technology, with exhibiting vendors for robotics and other cutting-edge platforms. There’s also a Marketplace, a Wellness Expo, a Gaming Expo, and Flatstock—an exhibit of the world’s best concert posters. (This one gets two thumbs up for people-watching!)

SMX West

It’s not exactly new, but search marketing is still the largest form of digital marketing, and since it’s always changing, it pays to keep up with the latest news and trends. Search Marketing Expo—SMX® for short—has been around for more than a decade, helping thousands of search marketers boost conversions, increase sales, and maximize awareness. With a new two-day track devoted to Digital Commerce Marketing, next year’s conference allows networking with a community of search marketers and an opportunity to learn from leading marketing solution providers.

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Vertica Big Data Conference

The Vertica Big Data Conference is more technical than many of the marketing conferences on this list, but if you’re a hands-on architect or tech leader who relies on data as a differentiator, this one may fit the bill. Vertica brings together its in-house principal architects and select customers for engineering-led sessions on best practices and tips for the world of big data. Data-driven professionals can sink their teeth into three days of applied use cases and real-world insights based on the power of data analytics and related martech trends.

Pubcon

Billing itself as an adult “Spring Break,” Pubcon is a high-energy, educational summit for marketers to learn the latest strategies, insights, and news about SEO, PPC, social media, content marketing, paid social, local search, Google Analytics, Amazon marketing, video, and more. Multi-track, educational sessions and workshops afford opportunities to learn and to network with fellow attendees.

The MarTech® Conference

Brought to you by conference chair Scott Brinker (creator of the martech supergraphic and chiefmartec.com), the MarTech® Conference was founded in 2008 and offers a program of leading speakers, sharing real-world experiences and expert analysis on the most timely and important topics in marketing technology (aka “martech”). It’s an intense two days of sessions and networking designed for senior-level marketers.

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Digital Summit

Digital Summit attracts seasoned marketers, strategists, designers, and more, offering dozens of in-depth digital marketing sessions and workshops. Companies presenting and sponsoring the next summit include Youtube, Google, Samsung, Refinery29, NASDAQ, Peloton, Wall Street Journal, ClassPass, WIRED, Nordstrom, and more. The 2019 conference featured speakers like Seth Godin, plus execs from WSJ, Airbnb, Twitter, and Samsung.

Experiential Marketing Summit

Unlike most of the other conferences listed, this one is entirely focused on experiential marketing: insights, ideas, emerging trends, and best practices are explained and some of the biggest case studies are shared. For three days—and with add-on field trips, power workouts, happy hours and networking dinners—executives from companies like Pepsi, Uber, General Mills, Under Armour, Samsung, and General Motors share their strategies for success in experiential marketing and CX. If you want to start your day with Soulcycle and end it with Donny and Marie, this one might be your ticket.

Confab

Confab bills itself as the “Content Strategy Conference” for all things content-related. Featuring executives from companies as diverse as Allstate, HubSpot, Shopify, and Brain Traffic, the four-day event is for planners, designers, content managers, marketers, and branding experts alike. With an introductory track as well as an intensive track, the conference covers the gamut: analytics and performance, user experience design, content design for AI and bots, editorial calendars, and hiring best practices.

Digital Growth Unleashed

Digital Growth Unleashed is a two-day digital marketing event focused on converting website traffic into sales, leads, and increased revenue. Formerly known as Conversion Conference, and produced by Rising Media and SiteTuners, Digital Growth Unleashed is entering its tenth year. Attendees can expect to learn how to increase both website conversion and customer lifetime value.

Gartner Marketing Symposium/Xpo

Designed for CMOs and marketing leaders, the Gartner Marketing Symposium/Xpo offers three days of strategic advice, thought leadership, networking among your peers, and the opportunity to evaluate dozens of technology solutions. The Symposium includes more than 40 Gartner experts and over 100 research-driven sessions. Topics include Customer Experience, Influencing B2B Buyers, Multichannel Marketing, Emerging Customer and Market Insights, and more.  

Cannes Lions 

Your pursuit of professional growth could mean a trip to France. The 67th Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity will take place in June. This festival boasts bringing together the world’s biggest brands and the most creative people. Based on extensive research, including more than 100 interviews of industry-leading marketing executives, the themes for 2020 include: Creativity Is the Business Growth Engine, Creative Disruption in Commerce, Post-Purpose: Brand Accountability and Activism, Your Brand Is My Experience, Looking to 2030: Making Your Business Future-fit, Applied Creativity: When Data, Tech and Ideas Collide, Storytelling at Scale, and Let’s Get Back to Brand. 

Moz

MozCon offers a three-day trip down the rabbit hole of search marketing. Its community of experts offers tactical advice from industry-leading practitioners of SEO, conversion optimization, and more. In addition to a great lineup of speakers—as well as the requisite photo booths and karaoke at night—Moz offers the popular “Birds of a Feather” lunch tables, curating a variety of topics for discussion accompanied by facilitators. Topics range from subjects such as “Google Analytics & Tag Management” and “Workflow Optimization” to “Podcasting” and “Influencer Outreach.”

Etail

Etail: the eCommerce and Omnichannel conference isn’t a marketing conference per se, but about half of the attendees typically come from marketing departments to learn new tactics around martech, growth, disruption, and unified commerce. Last year’s conference offered four tracks: Data, Analytics & AI, Digital Marketing & the Customer Journey, Testing & User Experience, and Retailers Only. Past speakers have represented companies like J Jill, The Vitamin Shoppe, Rent the Runway, and Barneys New York.

INBOUND

Sponsored by HubSpot, INBOUND brings together high-profile celebrities and media personalities—like Katie Couric, Janelle Monae, and Jennifer Garner—and break-out industry thinkers for four days of action-packed interactive educational sessions and forums. It’s not exactly an intimate setting (last year’s event attracted more than 21,000 attendees), but it’s chock-a-block full of useful content and different ways for people to learn and connect. With over 250 speakers, INBOUND is well-known for its entertainment lineup; previous headliners have included Cyndi Lauper, OneRepublic, Amy Schumer, and Trevor Noah. 

Reach

G2’s Reach conference is another one of those conferences that’s really about martech more than marketing (the focus is on software), but they feature a first-rate selection of speakers, as well as a variety of fireside chats and interactive breakout sessions that are meant to engage participants. This is a one-day only event, and last year’s conference included Neil Patel and marketing leaders from companies like HubSpot, SproutSocial, Zoom, and The New York Times.

MarketingProfs B2B Forum

This annual conference is a relatively intimate setting for learning about the latest in B2B marketing. It’s a chance to be inspired, talk best practices, and network with peers and industry leaders. This year’s keynotes were made by Neen James, Kara Swisher, Jay Baer, and Ann Handley. The conference offers a full suite of activities, including guided walks, runs, and yoga for active folks as well as cocktail parties and other informal get-togethers (for instance, a good old-fashioned block party with lawn games).

Which Marketing Conferences Will You Be at in 2020?

We’d love to hear which conferences are at the top of your list for 2020—and what you hope to gain from attending. For more conference options, check out my post from last year: 31+ Top 2019 Marketing Conference to Gain that Competitive Edge. Also, if I missed any that deserve to be on the list, just @mention me at Twitter.com/rtmixmktg to recommend an event, and I’ll consider adding it.

Tom Treanor
Tom Treanor
Tom Treanor heads up marketing at Arm Treasure Data. He focuses on marketing, martech, CDPs and digital marketing. Follow him on Twitter @RtMixMktg.
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