Goodbye, South By.

We had some great times together. In fact, I was one of your biggest fans. We started trends together, launched little startups like Twitter and Foursquare, and kept Austin weird. You taught me so much, and I’m thankful for that.

But it’s time to move on. We’ve changed; we’ve grown. Or rather, you’ve changed, and you’ve grown into a sprawling behemoth with 30-minute walks between sessions that I can never get to on time. There’s been a corporate takeover: instead of a gathering of innovative startups, SXSWi has turned into an exposition for major corporations. Big brands set up six-figure “experiences” where you can try out the latest in quilted toilet paper. Because…interactive?

So, at BuzzShift, we’re no longer paying for employees to go to SXSWi. They can still go, but we’re not going to fund it (the way we pay for employees to attend other conferences that help make them smarter and better at their jobs).

In fact, we’re not that interested in any general conferences: the jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none surface-level events. If you already know the basics, you won’t learn much of anything there. The only reason I consider going anymore is for networking purposes, but that’s about it.

Instead, we encourage people to dive deep at more specialized digital marketing conferences. If you want to learn about different topics, go to different deep-dive conferences. Cross-pollinate between conferences. Be a conference-hopper.

What are the best digital marketing conferences in 2016?


 

An Event Apart Nashville

An-Event-Apart-Nashville-2016

Where: Nashville, TN
When: March 14-16, 2016
Focus: Design
Why You Should Attend: Because you care deeply about design, code, content, and country music.


Adobe Summit

Adobe-Summit-2016

Where: Las Vegas, NV
When: March 20-24, 2016
Focus: Data-Informed Content
Why You Should Attend: Learn how to combine creativity, content, and data to reach customers. In Vegas. With George Clooney.


MarTech

Mar-Tech-2016

Where: San Francisco
When: March 21-22, 2016
Focus: Marketing Technology
Why You Should Attend: “Marketing” and “technology” are now so intertwined, combining them into “MarTech” actually makes sense.


Conversion XL Live

Conversion-XL-Live-2016

Where: Austin, TX
When: March 30-April 1, 2016
Focus: Conversions
Why You Should Attend: This conference is at “a remote location” where “nobody leaves.” Though that might sound ominous, the idea is that everyone there is serious and focused on learning and networking.


An Event Apart Seattle

An-Event-Apart-Seattle-2016

Where: Seattle, WA
When: April 4-6, 2016
Focus: Design
Why You Should Attend: Because you care deeply about design, code, content, and coffee.


FBF8

FBF8-2016

Where: San Francisco, CA
When: April 12-13
Focus: App Development, Performance Advertising
Why You Should Attend: If you build apps for Facebook, this is the conference for you. It’s also a good place for performance marketers to see what’s being built, and learn about what’s next to come in advertising on Facebook and Instagram.


Conversion World

Conversion-World-2016

Where: Online
When: April 18-20, 2016
Focus: Conversions
Why You Should Attend: This is an online-only conference, which does have its drawbacks. However, it also has one big positive: it costs much less to attend. That makes it still worthwhile, especially since conversions are where you really make your money.


Collision Conference

Collision-Conerence-2016

Where: New Orleans, LA
When: April 26-28, 2016
Focus: Technology, Startups
Why You Should Attend: It’s the startup conference—you know, kind of like SXSWi was back in 2007. It’s also the Web Summit (see below) with lower airfare.


99U

99U-2016

Where: New York, NY
When: May 5-6, 2016
Focus: Creativity
Why You Should Attend: You’re a creative, but have trouble making your big ideas become a reality.


Conversion Conference

Conversion-Conference-2016

Where: Las Vegas, NV
When: May 18-19, 2016
Focus: Conversion Optimization, UX
Why You Should Attend: Because you’d much rather have 1,000 sales than 1,000 eyeballs.


Internet Retailer Conference + Exhibition (IRCE)

Internet-Retailer-2016

Where: Chicago, IL
When: June 7-10, 2016
Focus: E-commerce
Why You Should Attend: If you sell online, this is the conference for you.  It’s also a great conference for marketers and agency folks to mingle about…you know, for all you new biz kids.


Call to Action Conference

Call-To-Action-2016

Where: Vancouver, BC
When: June 19-21, 2016
Focus: Conversion Optimization
Why You Should Attend: Register now!


Podcast Movement

Podcast-Movement-2016

Where: Chicago, IL
When: July 6-8, 2016
Focus: Podcasting
Why You Should Attend: Because you’re a podcaster, want to become a podcaster, or are a podcaster groupie.


#BlogHer16

Blog-Her-2016

Where: Los Angeles, CA
When: August 4-6, 2016
Focus: Content, Influencers, Native Advertising
Why You Should Attend: You create content for a mostly female audience, want to meet up and network with others who do the same, and don’t mind the fact that the name of the event is literally a hashtag.  


Content Marketing World

Content-Marketing-World-2016

Where: Cleveland, OH
When: September 6-9, 2016
Focus: Content
Why You Should Attend: It’s the biggest content marketing conference on the planet. You could try traveling to another planet, but that gets really expensive.


TechCrunch Disrupt

Tech-Crunch-2016

Where: San Francisco, CA
When: September 12-14, 2016
Focus: Startups
Why You Should Attend: If you’re a startup, this is a place where you might—might—get noticed. But, everything’s a longshot when you’re just getting started, and a small chance of hitting it big is better than no chance at all.


MozCon

Moz-Con-2016

Where: Seattle, WA
When: September 12-14, 2016
Focus: SEO, Digital Paid Media, UX
Why You Should Attend: Rand Fishkin and his team at Moz curate some of the best speakers with highly valuable content. Come here to learn something new. Guaranteed.


Dreamforce

Dream-Force-2016

Where: San Francisco, CA
When: October 4-7, 2016
Focus: B2B
Why You Should Attend: Dreamforce is Salesforce.com’s annual conference, and is the largest B2B conference in the world. Like, 170,000 attendees big.


Web Summit

Web-Summit-2016

Where: Lisbon, Portugal
When: November 7-10, 2016
Focus: Technology
Why You Should Attend: It’s what SXSWi used to be, but with an international flair.


State of Search

State-Of-Search-2016

Where: Dallas, TX
When: November 16-17, 2016
Focus: Search Marketing
Why You Should Attend: OK, we might be a little biased toward our hometown conference. But stop by and we’ll tell you about the time a CEO called us up and offered to hire us solely because we ranked #1 in local search results. In other words, this stuff works.


So, what do you think? Is there another 2016 conference that should have made the top 20, but didn’t? Which digital marketing conferences are you going to in 2016?

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