Must-attend marketing events in 2016

Potentially uncool opinion: I like business conferences. I don’t attend them that often—possibly in itself the key to my cheerfulness about them—but when I do, I usually find value, both personally and professionally. As an added bonus, as an occasional conference organizer myself, I enjoy seeing how different hosts roll out different versions of the red carpet.

What are the highlights on the horizon for my fellow marketers?


MarTech, March 21-22, San Francisco

Practically every session here looks like the sort of topic we love exploring on this blog, as a lot of the focus is on collaboration (e.g. “Bridging The Gap Between Marketing And Finance” and “Secrets To Successfully Partnering With Marketing Technology Sourcing”). Scott Brinker’s blog was (and is) way ahead of the curve on marketing technology, and his conference provides a vendor-agnostic opportunity to see what’s really going on in that universe.


ClickZ Live, April 11-13, New York

I admittedly haven’t checked out a ClickZ conference yet, but this one is high on the wishlist this year, with tracks that drill down into the practical stuff that makes your marketing sink or swim: engagement, conversion, retention, and evolution in an ever-changing digital landscape. If you’d rather learn about “connecting the multi-device search dots” than listen to inspirational-keynote-reminders-of-your-hidden-potential-or-whatever, this could be the event for you.


Social Media Marketing World, April 17-19, San Diego

Don’t be deterred by the name; SMMW isn’t just about building your Twitter following or the mystical art of social selling. The lineup for 2016 looks pretty similar to years past, featuring star fixtures of the marketing circuit like Chris Brogan, Guy Kawasaki, Ann Handley, Joe Pulizzi, Mark Schaefer and “Queen of Facebook” Mari Smith. Like Coachella, though, look beyond the headliners to get the most out of the event. And if you’re really lucky, you may even catch an amazing moment like this.


Marketing Nation Summit, May 9-12, Las Vegas

This is a preemptive inclusion, as sessions haven’t been posted yet—this should be happening soon—but count on Marketo (and its host city) to provide plenty of thought leadership and entertainment.


Salesforce Connections, May 10-12, Atlanta

I attended Connections in 2015 (in NYC) and was impressed by the scale and cost-effectiveness of the event. I filled numerous notebook pages—yes, I’m old-fashioned, but I was hardly alone—with things to try when I got home. The talks are a blend of pragmatic inspiration for Salesforce customers and higher-level talks that are relevant for all forward-looking marketers. They haven’t announced details just yet, but last year involved a variety of leading brands, as well as headliners like Coach K, Seth Meyers, Diane von Furstenberg, and The Roots.


Collabosphere, September 25-27, Los Angeles

The ultimate collaboration conference is chock-full of content for marketers; last year’s talks included tips on building better relationships with agencies, practical advice on workflow and user adoption of your marketing processes and tools, and an illuminating panel on the evolving relationship between marketing and IT.


ad:tech, November 2-3, New York

The massive Javits Center opens its arms for 7,000 attendees, 200 exhibitors and 120 speakers. ad:tech is entrenched as an annual highlight for marketing technologists and anyone in the vicinity of the brand-agency intersection.


Inbound, November 8-11, Boston

HubSpot’s annual conference bought an impressive breadth of topics and tracks to the stage last year, and aren’t likely to rein it in for 2016. Last year’s headliners were a blend of well-known conference keynote speakers (Seth Godin, Jonah Peretti) and famous comedians and writers (Amy Schumer, Marc Maron, Aziz Ansari, Jon Ronson).


What did I miss? There’s obviously no shortage of events vying for your attention and your dollars, and making the wrong choice can lead a conference-goer to swear off live events altogether. Where will you be?

Post by Adam McKibbin

Adam McKibbin is the content marketing manager for iMeet Central. His writing has been featured in Adweek, the Chicago Tribune and The Nation, and he’s produced content for some of the leading tech brands on the Fortune 500.