For many B2B software companies, conferences are a huge opportunity to generate leads and close big deals. But what if you just want to learn about the latest in B2B marketing, network with your peers, and come back to your boss with some actionable ideas? What conferences for B2B software marketers actually exist and are worthwhile to attend?
Many software companies actually host excellent educational conferences, but they’re not always right for every kind of software marketer. Some feel like one long sales pitch, which no one enjoys for two to three days straight. And there are some that have a fantastic reputation but you can’t attend because they’re hosted by a competitor.
So what’s left? I’ve researched some of the best conferences for B2B software marketers that all have one thing in common: they’re not a user conference. That means no overt sales pitches or events run by competitors. In chronological order, here are the conferences you and your marketing team should attend this year.
1. SaaStr Annual: February 7-9, San Francisco, CA
This isn’t your average marketing tech conference; like it says in the name, this is just for members of the SaaS industry, no one else. From start-ups to tech industry giants, SaaStr Annual offers the opportunity for every SaaS marketer to walk away with new ideas and a better understanding of the fast-growing business software industry.
Session topics include Three Non-Obvious Lessons Learned Selling to SMBs, How to Actually Get More Leads, and Growing Pains, Going Global, and More.
SaaStr Annual is this week, so if you’re in the Bay Area, and not already attending, there’s still time to attend and talk all things SaaS with your fellow software marketers.
2. B2B Marketing Exchange: February 20-22, Scottsdale, AZ
Most B2B marketers have heard of the Content2Conversion conference, but now it’s a part of B2B Marketing Exchange, an event focused on the challenges of B2B marketing and sales. Over the course of three days, you’ll hear from industry experts and thought leaders, like Lee Odden, Ardath Albee, and Jonah Berger. The name may have changed, but the overall goal of this conference is to come away with more knowledge on how to convert prospects into customers.
Topics covered include How Buyer Personas Power Sustainable Stories That Turn Prospects Into Customers, Customer Advocacy & Account-Based Strategies, and Applying “UnMarketing” To B2B Engagement.
3. SXSW: March 10-16, Austin, TX
South By Southwest began as a primarily music-focused event in 1987, with just 700 attendees. To say it’s grown enormously since would be an understatement! For two weeks, Austin plays host to thousands of music lovers, film buffs, and yes, tech marketers. Interactive is the branch of SXSW that’s ideal for any software marketer looking to hear the latest trends from the biggest names in the industry.
Interactive sessions include The Evolution of Podcast Advertising, Living Profiles & the Power of Personalization, and Moving at a Mobile Minute.
4. The Small Business Web Summit: March 21-22, San Francisco, CA
The overarching goal of this event is to discuss how B2B SaaS companies can grow through partnerships, integrations, channels, and platforms. The Small Business Web Summit offers software marketers at the executive level the chance to not only network with their peers, but learn from them and make important connections that will actually help the growth of their business. Only a few hundred leaders in the industry attend, so it’s a truly intimate and comfortable alternative for those who abhor the conferences that draw crowds in the thousands.
5. Social Media Marketing World: March 22-24, San Diego, CA
Social media is still an integral part of any software marketer’s strategy. Whether you’re new to the social game, or an early adopter, Social Media Marketing World offers an event for all marketers to come together and Tweet, Like, Snap, or Pin about social media in the business world.
Session topics include How to Become an Evangelist on Social Media and Beyond, The Changing Role of Blogs in a Social Media Age, and How to Use Social Media to Engage, Connect and Convert at Each Stage of the Customer Lifecycle.
6. MarketingSherpa Summit 2017: April 10-13, Las Vegas, NV
As one of the top marketing research companies, you know MarketingSherpa will focus on the numbers and actionable takeaways at their summit. It’s focused on the latest trends in digital marketing, with four main agenda tracks you can follow: Email & Mobile, Digital & Data, Content & Social, and Best Practices. The summit also offers more than just long panels or keynotes all day; coaching clinics and roundtable discussions are scattered throughout for marketers to really dive into their current challenges and get actionable tips from industry experts and peers.
Sessions set for this year include Creating Value Through all Email and Mobile Touchpoints, Making Your Customer the Hero, and Sustainable Social Media Success.
7. Hero Conf: April 18-20, Los Angeles, CA
Most marketing tech conferences will have a few sessions or panels on PPC, but what could be better for those who live and breathe PPC than a conference fully dedicated to the subject. Pay-Per-Click channels are tricky to manage, as you’re juggling quality and quantity of leads, all while keeping an eye on how your costs and revenue compare. At Hero Conf, you’ll hear from PPC experts and gain real-world, actionable tips to optimize your PPC strategies.
Topics include Optimization in a Mobile-First World, Leveraging Analytics For Remarketing, and Bidding in Paid Acquisition.
8. MarTech: San Francisco – May 9-11; Boston – October 2-4
Even though MarTech is all about marketing software, it’s not affiliated with any software companies. So if you’re looking for a place to learn how to create and maintain the best marketing tech stack for your company, look no further than Scott Brinker’s premiere event. Brinker, best known for his Marketing Technology Landscape, hosts this conference to help marketers navigate the the complex world of business software tools. And even software marketers need to understand which solutions are best for their business!
Topics covered include How Today’s Chief Marketers Are Transforming Their Teams and Talent to Meet New Customer Demands, Human Factors in Marketing Ops and Technology, and How to Build a Martech Stack That Fits Your Company’s Needs.
9. Content Marketing World: September 5-8, Cleveland, OH
Content marketing isn’t going away anytime soon, so if you haven’t taken the time to hone your strategy, consider Content Marketing World the place to be. The only event of its kind, you’ll hear from industry experts about exactly how content marketing benefits your software business. The results aren’t always immediate, but this strategy as a whole is one of the best ways to make a positive impact on your brand, and generate more leads as a result. So whether you’re a newbie or a ninja, Content Marketing World is essential to any software marketers looking for more about this specific tactic.
This year’s agenda includes sessions on How to Create a Documented Content Marketing Strategy, Social Media & Content Creation for B2B, and Creating an Influencer Marketing Strategy.
10. B2B Marketing Forum: October 3-6, Boston, MA
As a B2B software marketer, if you haven’t heard of MarketingProfs or Ann Handley, you’ve probably been living under a rock. I invite you to emerge and secure your ticket at one of the best conferences for B2B marketers. During the day, you’ll sit through engaging, educational, and entertaining sessions for the world’s leading B2B marketers. At night, you’ll party with your peers in and around Boston. If you had to choose only one conference to attend from this list, it’s this one.
Last year’s sessions included The Most Important SEO Ranking Factors Today In B2B, How Online Chat Might Just Be Your Most Effective Inbound Lead Gen Tool, and Content Marketing Strategy For Any Size Budget.
What are some of your favorite conferences for B2B software marketers? Keep adding to my list in the comments below!