Now that Digital Marketing Conferences are back IRL, it's time to dust off your networking skills and head out to some of the most anticipated conferences and expos in 2022.
We've curated this list based on recommendations from digital agency founders in the United States so it's specifically relevant to others running digital agencies, working in digital agencies or planning to one day run their own digital agency.
SEOptimer works with over 2,000 digital agencies and we've heard time and time again that lead generation and staying up to date with the industry are two ongoing challenges faced by agency founders. Marketing conferences offer great opportunities to take a step back, learn new skills and apply knowledge from industry leaders to your own business.
Choosing the best marketing conferences to attend
In 2022, there's so much choice when it comes to digital marketing conferences, summit and expos. Nearly all the main marketing events are back to in-person and or running hybrid events of in-person and online. So if you have limited time how should you choose what events are best to go to?
Broadly there are 4 types of marketing conferences:
1. General marketing conferences
These are the large scale conferences that attract hundreds, even thousands of attendees and are quite general in nature with speakers and topics that cover the entire marketing spectrum. These conferences are great for digital generalists or those who want to stay on top of key industry trends and aren't focused on a particular niche.
2. Niche-focused conferences
These conferences are smaller and specific to either an industry niche (eg: retail marketing) or a discipline niche (eg: lead generation conference). They are perfect for agencies who themselves are niche-focused and aren't interested in the full state of play of digital marketing but want to really go in-depth within their given field.
3. SaaS-run conferences
These marketing conferences are run by software companies like HubSpot and Moz but they follow a long tradition of software companies hosting or running conferences. These events are pitched at generally younger marketers and potentially marketers who are new to conferences. The events are designed to be 'more fun' and less stuffy than traditional conferences.
4. Small, exclusive conferences
These events are much smaller in scale, sometimes they are invite-only and/or capped at a maximum number of attendees. The structure of these events is quite different with a real focus on workshops, mastermind groups and high quality networking. Usually they contain a range of activities that are completely seperate to the conference itself like bushwalks, other outdoor activities and local tours etc.
Naturally you may find certain event formats work better for you and your colleagues. One popular approach in digital agencies is to send staff to conferences that they want to attend and then hold a lunch-and-learn session when they are back at work to share their learnings and insights from the event with everyone else.
Benefits of attending marketing conferences
There are several reasons why marketers attend marketing conferences. You may find multiple benefits in attending some of the great events listed below. Here are just a few reasons why marketing conferences might be valuable for you:
- Expand your professional network: in-person connections are more meaningful than virtual connections so getting out and meeting new people is a big benefit of these conferences, especially the smaller conferences
- Learn from your peers and industry leaders: some of the industry's top thinkers and successful practioners speak at these events so hearing from them and potentially meeting and speaking with them is a great benefit
- Be inspired by case studies and success stories: learning about the tangible tactics and strategies used by others to achieve success is very inspiring and might help you in your role in the future
- Get 'out of the building': there's a lot of value in getting out of the office / home office, changing your scenery for a day or multiple days and immersing in an event which really lets you take a step back and strategize in a different way
- Promote your agency in person or through sponsorship: whilst this shouldn't be the main reason you attend, there are always opportunities to promote yourself and indeed consider sponsoring conference activities or sessions to be more visible in the market
- Generate new leads or even a new client: again, this shouldn't be the focus but there's always opportunties to meet potential clients and get to know them in a casual setting where you might be able to add value in the future
To help you shortlist the best marketing conferences in 2022, we asked over 50 digital agency founders what marketing conferences in the US that they are looking forward to this year, following are their recommendations:
DigiMarCon is an industry bohemoth. It's the largest digital marketing and advertising conference series in the world with 40 annual events across 18 countries. 21 of those annual events are specifically in the US with all the major cities covered.
In 2014, DigiMarCon 'made waves' when they launched DigiMarCon Cruise, a spin-off conference format at sea aboard a 5-night Caribbean Cruise.
Brian Hong, CEO/Owner of New Orleans-based digital agency Infintech Designs, is looking forward to attending DigiMarCon this year.
He enjoys hearing from peers and learning strategies from those who have achieved growth and performance in digital marketing. Apart from DigiMarCon, Brian has a busy year of events as he's also planning to attend MozCon and Content Marketing World too (both of which we cover in this guide).
Brian goes on to say:
"DigiMarCon is jam packed with content marketers, executives and other experts in all areas of digital marketing."
Marketing Analytics Summit
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Date: June 20-23, 2022
Now in it's 20th year, the Marketing Analytics Summit is the marketing industry's biggest dedicated analytics conference and billed as the "conference for digital analytics trailblazers". The conference is run by Rising Media, a conference and events company who also run a number of other marketing-related conferences.
Marketing Analytics has become such a cornerstone of smart, data-driven marketing so while this appears to be a niche conference on the surface, it's a really important subject area for every single marketer. If you don't feel you have a good handle over data-driven marketing strategy or insight generation, this is the conference for you.
Scott MacIver, Digital Marketing Manager from digital agency Think Orion is excited to be attending Marketing Analytics Summit this year.
"I love the pure focus on analytics and using AI to understand data trends. I'm looking forward to hearing speakers like David Macbride, June Dershewitz and Jim Sterne."
Location: Boston, MA
Date: September 6-9, 2022
INBOUND is HubSpot's annual conference and it is one of the most highly anticipated each year by agency owners and more broadly business owners and b2b marketers who rely on HubSpot CRM.
HubSpot have set out to create a fun conference format with plenty of different session types and sideshow activities to be a part of. It's also massive with thousands of attendees and some of the biggest name speakers in the industry (ie Seth Godin, Gary Vaynerchuk, Stewart Butterfield, etc) so you can expect the scale of the large conference format but with the fun factor dialed up to make a memorable conference experience.
Tom Mohr is the Founder and CEO of CEO Quest, a leadership, mentoring and advisory group for business leaders.
Tom co-founded Digital Air Strike, a digital marketing tech and services firm that grew to $20M in revenue and has extensive experience in the digital marketing and tech space.
This year, Tom is attending INBOUND and says:
"I’m really looking forward to INBOUND. The conference focuses on highy relevant strategies surrounding inbound marketing, customer relationship strategies, and increasing revenue."
Content Marketing World
Location: Cleveland, OH
Date: September 13-16, 2022
Content Marketing World Conference & Expo is the event to attend for content marketers. Run by the Content Marketing Institute, CMW boasts over 100 sessions and workshops from industry leaders across all facets of content marketing, SEO and social media. With so many content marketers from around the country (and the world) joining in one place, it's a fantastic event for networking and connecting with other like-minded content marketers!
Google Ads consulltant John Cammidge is the Managing Director at JTC Consultants and is attending Content Marketing World this year.
High quality content underpins all digital marketing disciplines (especially paid media) which is why the conference attracts and broad cross-section of marketing professionals.
Location: Seattle, WA
Date: July 11-13, 2022
MozCon is the annual conference run by SEO tool Moz. Like other events run by tech companies, Moz positions MozCon as a fun alternative to the typically dry conference format. Moz call the event "summer camp for maketers with three days of non-stuffy networking and expert sessions".
Like HubSpot, Moz' annual conference has become a big event over the years and provides a fantastic opportunity for search marketers to all gather in one place to share knowledge, network and be inspired!
Digital Summit Series
Similar to DigiMarCon, Digital Summit is a series of multi-day conferences, webinars and virtual events which originally started in 2008 and has since grown to become one of the leading producers of digital marketing conferences travelling to 18 cities around the US. Today the event series is run by Naylor Association Solutions.
Steve Pogson, Founder of e-commerce marketing agency FirstPier can't wait for the next Digital Summit conference.
FirstPier is part of Helm Digital who operate three seperate industry-targeted digital marketing agencies within the e-commerce, construction and non-profit spaces. For Steve, Digital Summit represents an excellent opportunity to network, and offer an immersive learning experience to for his staff.
"Each regional gathering has the sense of a massive national conference. Innovative thought leaders from Fortune 100 firms are among the speakers."
Location: Napa Valley, CA
Date: May 17-19, 2022
DMO Advanced is the flagship event of the Digital Marketers Organization. DMO position themselves as a social network for brands, digital agencies and marketers to network, learn and inspire each other on all topics related to digital marketing. Unlike the larger conferences mentioned, this event is a bit more exclusive with a smaller group of attendees designed to facilitate better networking opportunities and relationship building.
The event is also held in the wine capital of California, Napa Valley, at the beautiful Artesa Winery with ample time set aside for winery tours and wine tasting.
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Date: March 13-15, 2023
LeadsCon is described as "where the world's top peformance marketers connect". Not only a conference but an expo too, LeadsCon is attended by all business segments with high levels of attendance coming from 25 main verticals including finance, education, automotive, home services and healthcare.
Location: San Diego, CA
Date: June 1-2, 2022
Strategic Marketing is run by Reuters Events and brings together CMO's and marketing leaders to inspire and empower attendees. This conference is pitched at the senior level so won't suit smaller agencies however it does attract attendees from larger agencies and global agencies.
Speakers consist of senior marketing leaders from some of the world's largest brands:
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Date: June 20-22, 2022
Conversion Conference clashes with the aforementioned Marketing Analytics Summit as both events start on June 20 and both are held in Las Vegas. Where they differ though is subject matter focus. The Conversion Conference is the leading event for CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization) professionals and has been running for 12 years.
MarketingProfs B2B Forum
Location: Boston, MA
Date: October 12-14, 2022
As the name suggests, B2B Forum is targeted at brands and agencies selling to businesses. The event is organized by MarketingProfs who run a series of events, conferences and training programs for marketers. Marketers in recent years have found the line blurring between B2B and B2C however, espeically on channels like social media however B2B Forum focused on the primary B2B strategies for lead generation, lead nurture and B2B sales/conversion.
We hope this list is useful to you as you plan your marketing conference shortlist for 2022. Please let us know if you're planning to go to any of these conferences as we'd love to hear your thoughts - tweet to us @seoptimer.