As expected, 2019 turned out to be everything and more when it comes to SaaS conferences – and we’ve only barely passed the halfway point of the year! SaaS (short for Software as a Service) conferences are among the most highly anticipated business gatherings in the world and 2019 did nothing but further cement the popularity of such events.
We’re in a year riddled with all kinds of conferences packed full of value for attendees. Some events are dedicated to the SaaS industry as a whole, others cater to certain niche topics, some delve deep into specific software solutions and others are devoted to providing guidance to decision-makers from all sides of the globe.
However, while plenty of SaaS conferences out there are certainly worth your time and effort, the fact remains that most of them cost a pretty penny. For early-stage companies and startups, attending all noteworthy events in a single year is simply not a viable option from a financial perspective. Even companies with healthy budgets are aware that sending employees to a bunch of different SaaS conferences is simply not a profitable move.
That’s where our today’s article steps into the picture and saves the day.
Since 2019 is already in full swing, the article before you will have two primary goals in mind. First, it will help you make a decision on which SaaS conferences in the following months are worth your time and hard earned money. Secondly, it will provide you with reviews of the events you already missed this year.
So, regardless of whether you’re looking for fast-paced networking or hands-on mentorship, you’ll find the perfect fit in the list below – hopefully, your ideal conference hasn’t taken place already!
Let’s start off on a positive note – while we may already be in July, there are a plethora of different SaaS conferences you can still attend. While you may have missed out on some fantastic events (as you’ll see later in this text), there’s still more than enough time to make up for lost ground in 2019.
Date: July 15 – 17
Location: Seattle, Washington
What better way to kickstart our list than with MozCon. Organized by the SEO gurus at Moz.com, MozCon will be primarily dedicated to search engine optimization, brand development, conversion rate optimization (CRO), analytics, customer experience and content marketing.
As usual, attendees can look forward to exceptional speakers armed with actionable marketing tactics. By the time this three-day conference ends, visitors will be taken deep into the world of marketing, a ride provided by some of the brightest minds in the industry, like Ashley Greene, Dana DiTomaso and Michael King.
Keep in mind, though, MozCon is intended for experienced marketers who’ve been on the market for some time already. If you only recently started working in the field, perhaps MozCon is not the conference you want to start with.
Main Reason for Attending: While you can learn a bunch of actionable advice for increasing conversions and improving customer retention, MozCon is also an opportunity to learn about other aspects of digital marketing. Want to know how your company can rank higher on Google? Are your email marketing efforts falling to deliver? Need help developing your brand? The folks at MozCon are the crème de la crème of the digital marketing community, so they are bound to have the solutions to whatever’s stagnating your marketing efforts.
Main Agenda: Improving Customer Conversions and Retention
Cost of entry: $799 – $1299
SPOTLIGHT SPEAKERS: Andy Crestodina (Co-founder / CMO at Orbit Media Studios), Areej AbuAli (Head of SEO at Verve Search), Britney Muller (Senior Search Scientist at Moz), Casie Gillette (Senior Director of Digital Marketing at KoMarketing)
What’s this event best for: Learning about marketing and networking opportunities
Why we love it: The Moz team has been leading the SEO and general marketing community for years – who better to learn from than them?
Picture from 2018:
Date: September 3 – 6
Location: Boston, Massachusetts
Over 24,000 people attended the event last year and 2019 projects to attract even more interested parties. INBOUND is a perfect opportunity to learn about inbound marketing and sales tactics from best-selling authors, TV producers and leaders of major corporations. Be ready to take notes from a rich roster of speakers that includes Katie Couric, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Jason Blum and Alex Ohanian.
If you’re having problems with selling your product or service, INBOUND is certainly worth the price of admission. And that’s not even all – INBOUND is also known for the tasty food trucks and world-class entertainment, so expect to have a lot of fun if you do decide to attend.
Main Reason for Attending: Sales are a vital element of any thriving SaaS business, and there’s arguably no better conference dedicated to this topic in the world. If you’d prefer that customers come to you rather than having to chase them around the Internet, attending INBOUND should be at the top of your to-do list.
Main Agenda: Inbound SaaS Marketing
Cost of entry: $199 – $2199
SPOTLIGHT SPEAKERS: Jason Blum (Producer), Rachel Botsman (Author), Katie Couric (Journalist and Author), Jennifer Garner and John Foraker (Co-Founders & CEOs of Once Upon a Farm)
What’s this event best for: Learning about inbound marketing tactics
Why we love it: An incredible roster of speakers from different spheres of business will be teaching you how to improve your marketing tactics
Image from 2018:
Date: September 16 – 18
Location: Boston, Massachusetts
Another conference taking place in Boston, The Business of Software Conference (also known simply as BoS) is an event intended for entrepreneurs that want to scale up their companies.
BoS will cover a wide range of different topics relevant to SaaS professionals. Attendees will learn a lot about cutting edge marketing and good hiring practices, as well as what it takes to be a great leader of a successful firm.
Expect to see a lot of decision-makers from leading companies, including hundreds of founders, CEOs, CTOs, COOs, product managers and directors. This year’s speakers include Teresa Torres, Alex Osterwalder, April Dunford and many more.
Main Reason for Attending: If you decide to pay the ticket for BoS, you’ll be taught by industry experts about scaling up your SaaS business to new heights. Furthermore, you will massively expand your professional network by meeting important people from other firms, which could open up a lot of new doors for you going forward.
Main Agenda: Scaling Your SaaS Business
Cost of entry: $1550 – $1800
SPOTLIGHT SPEAKERS: Teresa Torres (Product Discovery Coach, Product Talk), Alex Osterwalder (CEO/Founder, Strategyzer), April Dunford (Founder, Ambient Strategy)
What’s this event best for: Learning about scaling in interactive workshops
Why we love it: BoS encourages entrepreneurs to listen, help and learn from one another
Picture from 2018:
Date: October 14-16
Location: Dublin, Ireland
SaaStock‘s main selling point is that it gathers speakers from major SaaS companies like Zendesk, Teamwork and Pipedrive. The purpose of their presence? To share tips and tricks for sustainable business growth they used in the past.
SaaStock is projected to gather anywhere between 6,000 and 8,000 attendees. It’s going to be 3 days riddled with valuable programs with over 250 exhibitors all ready to share their growth hacking secrets.
Just about everyone who’s anyone in the world of SaaS will be at this highly-rated conference – and you too can share and learn the strategies that have proven their worth in the SaaS industry.
Main Reason for Attending: While you can learn a lot about how to go about growing your business, SaaStock will also host plenty of hands-on workshops you can attend. Of course, the networking opportunities are abundant too, plus the fact you’re in Dublin pretty much guarantees you will have a great time.
Main Agenda: Actionable Tips for SaaS Companies
Cost of entry: $699 – $999 (Use promo code BAYLEAFDIGITAL-30 to take 30% off all tickets to SaaStock East Coast)
SPOTLIGHT SPEAKERS: Claire Hughes Johnson (COO of Stripe), Girish Mathrubootham (CEO of Freshworks), Rory O’Driscoll (Partner at Scale Venture Partners), Kathryn Petralia (Co-Founder of Kabbage)
What’s this event best for: Participating in hands-on workshops and networking
Why we love it: You will take a sneak-peek inside what your niche-related companies are doing for growth
Video from 2018: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hw4G80EBiv0
Date: November 4 – 7
Location: Lisbon, Portugal
As usual, WebSummit will entertain world-class speakers from Fortune 500 companies and it will gather over 70,000 attendees from 170 countries. SaaS conferences don’t get much bigger than that.
As the case was last year, the 2019 edition of the event will be a fantastic opportunity to learn where the futures of SaaS, startups and general technologies lie.
Main Reason for Attending: Forbes is not the only one to label WebSummit as the SaaS highlight of the year. The New York Times and The Atlantic both give the event high marks too. The conference will cover all sorts of different industries, including digital marketing, growth hacking, cryptocurrencies, music and sports, so there’s a little of something for everybody. At the very least, there probably isn’t a better place for SaaS networking than WebSummit.
Main Agenda: Cutting-edge of the SaaS Industry
Cost of entry: $625 – $24,995
SPOTLIGHT SPEAKERS: Brad Smith (President of Microsoft Corporation), Gillian Tans (Chairwoman at Booking.com), Hans Vestberg (Chairman & CEO of Verizon), Melanie Perkins (Co-founder & CEO of Canva), Wladimir Klitschko (Founder of Klitschko Ventures)
What’s this event best for: Boundless networking opportunities
Why we love it: The conference will offer 24 totally unique tracks that will thoroughly cover all aspects of the SaaS industry
Picture from 2018:
Date: November 19 – 22
Location: San Francisco, California
Dreamforce, an event hosted by Salesforce, is among the biggest SaaS conferences in the world. This must-attend event has been drawing crowds to the bay area since 2003 and this year’s edition promises to be a true gem.
The 2019 edition of Dreamforce will gather more than 170,000 attendees all eager to listen to the industry’s leading speakers.
As usual, attendees will be able to participate in seminars of all kinds – this year, the event will host more than 2,700 breakout workshops dedicated to sharing knowledge and expertise.
Main Reason for Attending: Traditionally, there’s a lot to learn and experience at Dreamforce. Regardless of what field of SaaS you work in, this conference has you covered. Besides, with over 170,000 attendees, the networking opportunities are basically endless. And did we mention Al Gore is going to hold a lecture?
Main Agenda: Breaking Through into the SaaS Market
Cost of entry: $1,500 – $2,100
SPOTLIGHT SPEAKERS: Marc Benioff (Chairman & co-CEO of Salesforce), Al Gore (Chairman of Generation Investment Management), Geisha J. Williams (CEO & President of PG&E Corporation), Ulrich Spiesshofer (President and CEO of ABB Ltd.)
What’s this event best for: Learning about SaaS from the industry’s crème de la crème
Why we love it: While learning about how to run a successful business is why we love it, the allure of Dreamforce parties should not be overlooked
Video from 2018: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=md5DQcLKmog
Date: December 10 – 11
Location: San Francisco, California
Just like the name suggests, Growth Marketing Conference (GMC) is an event dedicated to one single thing – teaching visitors the secrets of growing a prolific SaaS company.
Regardless of whether you recently launched a company or you’ve been running one for a while now, you’ll have a chance to learn best practices when it comes to acquisition, activation and retention of customers, as well as how to encourage clients to spread the word about your business.
Besides getting valuable insights into the latest tactics in B2B and enterprise growth, you’ll also discover the best tricks for organic and performance marketing, which is certainly worth noting.
Main Reason for Attending: Just about every growth-hacking topic you can come up with will be thoroughly covered. People have been attending GMC for years because they want to grow their companies faster and more profitably. If you’re struggling with scaling your business, this conference is the place to be.
Main Agenda: Growth-hacking
Cost of entry: $750 – $1.550
SPOTLIGHT SPEAKERS: Jim Stoneham (Chief Marketing Officer and SVP of Growth, New Relic), Andy Johns (Partner, Unusual Ventures), Hana Abaza (Head of Marketing, Shopify Plus), Jon Chang (Global Product Marketing, IBM Watson)
What’s this event best for: Learning the latest tactics in B2B and enterprise growth
Why we love it: The event will cover just about any “growth” topic you can think of
Picture from 2018:
Okay, now that we covered the conferences that should be on your radar in the remainder of 2019, let’s now take a look at the events that are already in our rearview. Hopefully, showcasing the value behind these missed opportunities will further reinforce your intentions of visiting some of the SaaS events listed above!
Date: February 5-7
Location: San Jose, CA, USA
We don’t want to demoralize you right off the bat, but in all likelihood, SaaStr Annual was the most important SaaS event of the year. Founded by industry veteran Jason M. Lemkin, the tickets were starting from $999 and the event still sold out in a matter of weeks.
The conference was packed with 300+ sessions, 500+ 1-on-1 meetings, 40+ AMAs with top industry VIPs, buddy matching opportunities, and it was visited by more than 15,000 attendees.
Needless to say, SaaStr Annual 2019 definitely lived up to the hype surrounding it.
This year’s edition was devoted to helping visitors scale their SaaS business and improve LTV (Life Time Value) of their customers. Attendees were shown how to scale their startups by industry professionals, and they were also given the opportunity to network with their peers.
Main Agenda: Scaling SaaS Companies and Improving Customer LTV
SPOTLIGHT SPEAKERS: Aaron Levie (CEO of Box), Craig Walker (CEO of Dialpad), Jennifer Tejada (CEO of PagerDuty), Melanie Perkins (Co-Founder & CEO of Canva)
Why we loved it: The event was packed with 300+ sessions, 500+ 1-on-1 meetings, 40+ AMAs with top industry VPs, buddy matching, VC sessions and more than 15,000 attendees
Video from 2019: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rEOc8FreeoI
Date: March 29 – April 2
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Adobe is a company that’s been known to put on great events over the years, but the Adobe Summit really managed to stick out even by their standards. With such speakers as Drew Brees, Reese Witherspoon, Hubert Joly, Susan Johnson and many more, Adobe Summit 2019 dove deep into various topics of marketing.
The event’s main objective was teaching visitors how to create great customer experiences. How your clients interact and use your brand is obviously of great importance as that’s what separates you from the myriad of others fighting for the same market.
Of course, the networking opportunities were also substantial, so you certainly missed out on a lot of value. However, there are still some good news – if you sign up for the event’s email list now, you’ll receive a huge discount on 2020 tickets!
Main Agenda: Crafting Great Customer Journeys
SPOTLIGHT SPEAKERS: Drew Brees (Superbowl champion), Reese Witherspoon (Oscar-winning actress), Hubert Joly (Best Buy’s CEO), Susan Johnson (Suntrust Bank’s CMO)
Why we loved it: Nine tracks and over 300 sessions covered analytics, customer experience design, content management, omnichannel marketing and personalization
Video from 2019: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UwE5cb3KrY8
Date: February 12 – 15
Location: San Francisco, California
If you work within the technology field, attending a conference hosted by a company that’s been pushing technological boundaries for decades probably isn’t such a bad idea, right? Well, as it happens, thousands of other people had the same idea.
Think was a brilliant combination of IBM’s top conferences, like World of Watson, Amplify, Interconnect, Edge and Connect. It was a conference that delivered what many labeled as the “quintessential IBM experience” and, as such, it was a great opportunity to listen from the SaaS industry’s leading minds.
Attendees learned a lot about a range of technology topics, sharpening their skills in all aspects of the SaaS world in the process. If next year’s edition will be anything like the 2019 one, booking this event to your 2020 calendar certainly seems like a great idea.
Main Agenda: The Nuances of the SaaS World
SPOTLIGHT SPEAKERS: Ginni Rometty (Chairman, President, and CEO of IBM), Joe Montana (Legendary NFL Quarterback), John Donovan (CEO of AT&T Communications), Bob Lord (Senior Vice President of IBM Digital Business Group)
Why we loved it: Think was a mix of all the IBM’s top conferences and delivered an incredible amount of value to everyone who visited it
Video from 2019: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XoVi80_VLoA
While you certainly missed out on a few exceptional events, the good news is that the amount of SaaS conferences out there is mind-boggling, to say the least. Hopefully, the above list will help you narrow down your options and make the most out of the value-packed SaaS world in 2019 and forward.
One last thing before you go – if you are working with a limited budget (as most up-and-coming SaaS companies are), then going to even two or three of the aforementioned conferences can be a true financial stretch. That’s why it’s important to do your research, pick the one that suits your business’ type and model the most, and then keep an eye on the ROI you get from the conference.
Measuring the ROI of attending is quite hard though as putting a price on knowledge can be tricky. The best indicator of good ROI is if you’re able to close deals on the spot. Of course, there’s the educational and inspirational side of things that needs to be taken into consideration as well. An idea obtained from a conference can be game-changing for your SaaS company, so take that into account as well.
All in all, pick your spots carefully and make the most of whatever conference you attend – and going with any of the events we listed above will certainly not be a mistake by any means.
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