20 Must-Attend Digital Strategy Conferences in the U.S. 2017 - 2018

  • Prema Srinivasan
  • July 11, 2017

Online summits and virtual events have become de rigueur these days, but in-person events are, nonetheless, still quite popular, and for good reason. Conferences can be a great place to listen to subject matter experts talk about cutting-edge topics, find strategic partners and clients, and walk away with fresh ideas to take back to your team. And it goes without saying that there’s just something about stepping away from your office and going someplace new that can spark creativity and inspire innovation. But with the plethora of options out there, it’s not always easy to figure out which conferences to attend.

We’ve identified 20 digital strategy conferences (within the verticals that we focus on – Education, Healthcare, Nonprofits, B2B, and Associations) that we believe are some of the best out there. We’ve personally attended many of them over the years, and plan to attend many of them again this year. We hope to see you at one of them!

Education

Are you a digital strategy or marketing professional in the education space? Then the Edu Web Digital Summit has your name written all over it. According to their site, “eduWeb has established itself as the only conference focusing on your institution’s integrated digital marketing presence.” Starting 12 years ago, eduWeb has put itself on the map as a must-attend conference. And this year’s summit is in the mecca of higher education – Boston, Massachusetts – home to over 50 colleges and universities. http://eduwebconf.com

Philadelphia is not only known for the iconic liberty bell (you thought we were going to say Philly Cheesesteak, didn’t you?), it is also the host for EDUCAUSE’s annual conference this year. The event brings together professionals and tech providers from around the world to collaborate, share ideas, and propose solutions to today’s challenges in higher education IT. With over 8,000 attendees and 275+ exhibitors, it’s a massive conference with an equally impressive roster of program tracks featuring the latest and greatest in the world of IT. From big data to cloud computing, to reducing and managing risk in a digital world, to transforming the student experience, we’re pretty sure there’ll be something for everyone.  https://events.educause.edu/annual-conference

Healthcare

The Healthcare Internet Conference (HCIC) organized by Greystone.net is the premier conference in the healthcare marketing space – perfect for IT, digital marketing, PR, and communications leaders alike. Whether you’re in charge of your organization’s website, intranet, portals, CRM, or marketing channels (including social), this conference is the place to be to learn about best practices for healthcare brands from leaders in the space. You’ll have access to case studies, tips, and strategies, and the chance to look at the latest tools and emerging technologies from vendors around the country. And the best part? You’ll get to do all this in the locale that’s quickly becoming known as the emerging hotbed of all things digital – Austin, Texas. We hear the Austin music scene is worthy of an extra day, if you can spare one. https://www.hcic.net

Nonprofits

You might not need much of an added incentive to attend this conference, as few people can resist Miami Beach. But the location of this conference is only the tip of the iceberg (or beach, that is). The Communications Network conference is a global gathering geared towards foundation and nonprofit leaders who are passionate about using strategic communications to help further their mission of building a better world. Bringing together 600 fellow colleagues in the foundation and nonprofit space, this conference promises to be a place to connect, learn, and share. http://www.comnet17.org

Over 2,000 of the top nonprofit professionals from around the world come together at the Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC), the signature technology event for the nonprofit sector. Whether you’re in the market for a new product or service, or want to explore the best strategies and the latest technologies, NTC has you covered with over 100 sessions, an exhibit hall, and networking events every evening. Don’t forget to check out New Orleans’ iconic French Quarter while you’re there!  https://www.nten.org/ntc

B2B

Content may be king, but impactful content still requires putting together an assortment of puzzle pieces to create the well-designed system your organization needs in order to make a difference. The Gilbane Digital Content Conference brings together the whole kit and caboodle – from experts in content strategy and marketing, to IT and business. Teaching people how to deliver superior customer experiences is the goal, and they’ve pulled out all the stops to create a comprehensive program track for everyone, regardless of their area of expertise. So, book your ticket to the land of the pilgrims the week after Thanksgiving this year. And don’t forget to add a few extra hours outside the conference to explore the city!  http://gilbaneconference.com/2017/default.aspx

Maximizing digital ROI is the name of the game, and the Digital Strategy Innovation Summit brings together innovative, high-level execs in digital strategy who have proven expertise in adapting to an ever-changing business environment, where new technologies influence business success. You can’t go wrong networking with some of the most senior executives in business in the city that never sleeps.  https://theinnovationenterprise.com/summits/digital-strategy-innovation-summit-new-york-2017/speakers

If you’re a SiriusDecisions customer, or marketing or sales executive, you’ve got to mark this one on your calendar. Aside from a packed four-day conference showcasing new innovations in the B2B space, and networking with product leaders, and marketing and sales professionals, this is the place to be to get the most from your SiriusDecisions investment. With over 3,000 people attending, it’s sure to be a great place to network and learn. http://siriusdecisionssummit.com

Associations

Whether you’re an IT director, membership manager, developer, project manager, customer service rep, or marketing team lead at a professional membership organization, the Aptify Users Conference (AUC) has something tailored specifically for your area of expertise. The AUC brings 300 of your fellow Aptify users together for 3 days filled with collaboration, learning opportunities, and networking. Also, Aptify is an ASAE-approved credit provider, so many of the sessions are eligible for CAE (Certified Association Executive) credit. http://aptifyusersconference.com

ASAE's (American Society of Association Executives) Technology Conference & Expo provides the perfect opportunity to meet CIOs, CEOs, and other executives and technology professionals to share insights and ideas in the Association space. They have a variety of opportunities for learning, from pre-conference workshops to keynotes, to sessions that span three levels: foundational (intros to different content areas), applied (practical examples based on existing knowledge), and strategic (the most up-to-date info on highly technical and detailed topics). https://technologyconference.asaecenter.org

PersoniFest is no stranger to the conference scene – this year’s conference being the 19th annual! Whether you're a Personify client or partner, PersoniFest is an exciting forum to attend to network. You’ll be able to exchange ideas with industry professionals who are using Personify360 and Small World Community, and learn about how to automate processes, optimize relationships with your core audience, and more. You’ll also be able to sign on for additional training to utilize Personify360’s extensible platform and designer tools, and learn how to configure the platform for your specific needs. This year’s conference is in the rapidly growing and evolving city of Austin that exudes the casual and hip atmosphere you’d expect, along with world-class restaurants and a digital presence that has attracted some of the biggest companies to put down roots there. https://personifycorp.com/personifest-2018  

Technology

Acquia Engage is your opportunity to become more familiar with Acquia and its products, partners, and other users. Aside from getting to speak with product experts, you’ll also get a look at Acquia’s long-term vision and product roadmap. Surrounded by thought leaders and business executives from around the world, you’ll get to learn how to hit it out of the park (FYI... Fenway Park is less than 3 miles away) when it comes to taking your organization’s digital game to the next level. You’ll get to learn from Acquia customers and partners as they share how they’re using digital to advance their organization’s mission, utilizing the power of cloud and open source technologies.  https://engage.acquia.com

The Sitecore Symposium is the place to be for all things Sitecore. You’ll have access to Sitecore experts and industry leaders to learn how to utilize Sitecore to put your customer data into action, create highly-tailored and personalized digital experiences, and much more. Whether you’re a marketer, developer, partner, analyst, or customer, this is the place to learn how to use Sitecore to enable business success. This is one of Velir’s top picks for conferences to attend each year. We’re platinum partners this year and will have over a dozen staff attending, including 3 team members who will be presenting at the Symposium! So, don’t be shy. Stop by our booth and say hello. http://www.sitecore.net/en/landing/xc/2016/sitecore-symposium-2017-save-the-date

Key challenges that are top of mind for most of us in this space are delivering experiences that matter, and providing value to our customers. The Adobe Summit is the place to be to get an understanding of how to use the Adobe Experience Cloud to get deep customer insights. Whether building personalized campaigns, or optimizing how you manage content and assets, you’ll be sure to gain valuable takeaways that you can put to use at your company. The breakout sessions created for professionals of varying proficiencies in the Experience Cloud, and 150 sessions and labs across multiple tracks, will include topics from customer experience, data-driven marketing, and programmatic marketing among others. Held in one of the top destinations for conferences, it’s sure to be a powerful experience in and of itself.  https://summit.adobe.com/na/preregister​

Your headquarters for everything Drupal-related, this conference hits all the right notes from dozens of curated sessions and panels, to opportunities for development sprints, networking, and conversations with fellow Drupal-enthusiasts. There are also full-day training programs with topics ranging from the basics of Drupal to best-practices and deep-dive workshops. Learning and sharing about the future of technologies on the Drupal platform is only one reason to attend. The DrupalCon community and sponsor-driven evening events will also keep you engaged throughout the week. And of course, there’s Nashville’s country music scene and Southern charm which will have you wishing you’d stayed an extra day or two, so plan ahead! Thousands of people from around the world attend DrupalCon every year, so don’t miss out.  https://events.drupal.org/nashville2018

Data Viz

The Data Visualization Summit is the powerhouse of conferences when it comes to understanding how data visualization can be aesthetically pleasing and also deliver real business value. Now more than ever, companies and organizations have access to incredible amounts of data, but the real opportunity lies in converting that data into visuals and stories that spark action. Bringing together 30+ speakers from a variety of organizations who are leaders in the Data Visualization space, this conference will cover everything from data journalism, to UX/UI design, and more, and is hosted in Boston, a city with a flourishing tech scene.  https://theinnovationenterprise.com/summits/data-visualization-summit-boston-2017

General

If you’re a marketing or PR professional who is in charge of content marketing initiatives, look no further than Content Marketing World to help you identify new and exciting ways to use content to build your business. Now in its 7th year, this conference continues to bring together the industry’s most influential people, and covers everything from how to budget and hire for content marketing success, to providing first-hand accounts of how top brands in B2B, B2C, and the nonprofit space are using content to drive their brands forward. With specialized sessions by sector, intensive workshops, and industry-specific labs, Content Marketing World is the conference to be at this fall in Cleveland, Ohio, the midwestern city taking the food and arts scene by storm. http://www.contentmarketingworld.com

The Industry and Community (IC) Digital Marketing Summit is a one-day educational opportunity for marketing professionals. Though this summit’s speakers represent a variety of verticals, if you’re a digital marketer in the healthcare space, you’ll appreciate that some of the speakers at this summit come from highly-regarded healthcare institutions including Mayo Clinic, United Healthcare, and Fairview & University of MN Health. It should come as no surprise that the summit draws speakers from prominent healthcare institutions; Minnesota is known in the business community as Medical Alley, home to more than 600 medical services and technology companies.  https://icsummits.com/minnesota 

MarTech is an international conference that brings together a variety of senior-level professionals who are immersed in the intersection of technology and marketing. Whether you are a marketing or creative technologist, growth hacker, data scientist, or digital strategist, this vendor-agnostic conference can provide the insights and understanding your organization needs for successful digital transformation. Breaking traditional boundaries between marketing and IT, this conference inspires cross-functional collaboration.  https://martechconf.com

As a CMO, brand awareness and engagement, data-driven marketing strategies, and ROI on your marketing spend are likely to be top of mind. The CMO Summit brings together senior-level executives from a variety of industries to discuss professional challenges, and share ideas and insights. It also doesn’t hurt that this exciting 2-day conference is hosted in the vibrant city of San Francisco.  https://theinnovationenterprise.com/summits/chief-marketing-officer-summit-san-francisco-2018​

So, that’s out list! Will you or your colleagues be attending any of these? Are there other conferences that you would recommend that are not listed here? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Share your insights below and keep the conversation going.