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How to Use Swag to Humanize Your Virtual Conference Campaigns

Tips
10 min read
Helen Rankin
Helen Rankin
CMO

Published: March 24, 2020

It seems as though in a blink the world has globally accepted virtual reality as a norm. Amidst covid-19, the rush of canceling all events, moving teams remote and the hysteria of buying all the toilet paper you can find, we still have to continue to stay in business. Businesses, whether the ones hosting conferences, or those exhibiting, quickly adapted and committed to not losing momentum, by offering virtual conferences and webinars on platforms like Hopin, On24,  and Brella

While offering these alternative solutions to keep things alive, there is a sense of loneliness to being virtual. It lacks that tangible feel that technology can not offer, but there’s a way to fix it…

Let’s be honest, one of the best things about going to a conference is the swag. Collecting swag from your favorite companies is like a badge of honor to say you attended. Many times these items become collectibles, cherished for years to come. Take Dreamforce, for example, the Salesforce faithful can’t wait to snag each year’s backpack and other items. Heck, they even put a video together to talk about it!

In turn, this is great for brands as a way of keeping the conversation going and staying top of mind, ultimately moving prospects down the funnel or building stronger relationships with your raving fans, hence the whole purpose of doing swag. Swag is also a key driver of sponsorship revenue at strategic partnerships at events. But in this new digital world, how can we make virtual reality and swag meet? 

We have come up with some creative ways to bring the human connection back through our new virtual world. What follows is our guide to how you can use swag to help bring life your virtual events:

  • Step 1 – Envision user experience

First thing to ask is this, what was your main goal of organizing or attending a traditional conference? Was it brand awareness, collecting as many business cards at your booth to later retarget, network, meet existing clients? Understanding what your main goal is will help create the experience needed for virtual conferences. When creating a virtual conference there are some voids needed to be filled, here’s how swag can help:

  • Brand Awareness – Brand Awareness is probably one of the main reasons to go to these conferences. It allows the competition to know you have your flag on the hill and gives your clients the reassurance they made the right choice. Anyone that’s not a client will simply feel left out. Granted, with virtual conferences you miss out on the opportunity to give people a sense of camaraderie by seeing each other rocking your swag around the conference. But there is still a way to execute this with virtual conferences. You can do this by sponsoring some of the virtual events or rooms within them and then sending swag before the conference to attendees. Give them something they’ll find valuable working from home and make it something worth sharing with a special event-focused social media hashtag.

    If your virtual event platform allows for attendees to engage through video, you can even prompt them to wear that nice branded dad hat during the event.   
  • Collecting data – Collecting Data is great way to build up a list for your sales team to later target paired with some aggressive email marketing. How can you collect emails with no booth in a virtual event? Well the truth is you can probably collect more data during a virtual event than a conference. Why? One, you don’t have to limit the amount of attendees going. People are not limited by travel and dates to be able to attend, so it makes it easier for more people to attend. Also, you can create some great content mixed with, of course, swag, to entice attendees to watch a short demo video to collect some swag – all in exchange for their information. What’s great about this is that you can actually measure impressions from your demo page, retarget, and easily track back to conversion, something that can be difficult to do with in-person event. 
  • Networking- This part might seem tricky, how do you get your sales team to get out there in a virtual conference to network? Well, most virtual conference platforms have profile pages for all attendees and match up services for people looking for your services. Make sure to investigate on which platform the event is being hosted on to see what networking opportunities there are. Platforms like Hopin.to actually offer video chats for people to network right within their app. Other platforms like Brella.io have match up services natively for attendees to sync up and connect. Have a good conversation with a new friend, why not send them to a redeem page for a special swag item sent to them as a follow up.
  • Meeting Existing Clients- Meeting clients face to face really solidifies the relationship more than any call you have. So how can we make this virtual experience more personalized? One create a dedicated sessions for your clients only. This can be an invite only session blocked off for your clients. We can also create a nice follow up sending some swag with a nice follow up note to keep the conversation going even after the session. 

As you can see virtual conferences and swag can play hand in hand to create an engaging experience, and it doesn’t have to be hard! Our team at SwagUp can take this a step further by assisting you to make these experiences happen with ease through our platform and integrations. Which brings us to step 2. Creating your swag to meet your goals.  

  • Step 2 – Create swag 
  • Creating swag is the fun part! Select items that match up with your goals. If you want this item worn during the virtual conference, select items like t-shirts, hats, or socks! For clients, perhaps giving a more personalized gift that will show them their partnership matters. If you are looking to give items to all the attendees, the items can range from notebooks and pens that they can use during the conference to take notes or even a nice pair of headphones or a webcam cover. Whatever you go with, make sure it’s something people will actually use, and shows them you care about them, not just your brand.

Our Swag Experts will help create the experience that makes the most sense for your goals and will create the best buzz for your brand. For more ideas check out our blog on best swag for remote workforce or simply contact us today to get started! 

So now you’ve identified your goals for your virtual event, you’ve picked out the perfect swag, lastly, you need to get it in attendees hands. When it comes to distributing swag, in person-events have a huge advantage in that attendees are easily accessible in one location. It’s this proximity that makes them timeless. Distributing swag at scale to virtual event attendees would be incredibly challenging if you are not set up for it or have a remote workforce. Companies like SwagUp help take care of the process from start to finish, including global logistics, all it takes is setting up a redeem page.

  • Step 3 – Automation using Redeem pages
  • We all know setting up an event whether it’s virtual or not it’s a lot of work! So you figured out your goal and selected your swag, now what? Well let’s take it step further by automating the process. Our team at SwagUp can create unique redeem pages for each touch point at the virtual conference with unique URL’s to each to be “handed out” to event attendees.

    You can insert this unique url at any touch point, capture attendees info, and automatically ship out the respective swag item/pack. Yes it’s that simple. No need to store swag in your office or home, managing an excel file, and lugging swag to the post office. Our platform will take care of the process to get your swag distributed worldwide. Here are some cool touchpoints where you can add a swag redeem flow:
  • Registration 
    • This is probably the most exciting part of going to conferences, who doesn’t love to collect their swag bag at the registration desk? Well, why do we need to get rid of that experience virtually? Add our redeem link to this process.If you capture recipients address details in the registration process you don’t even need to send them through a redeem flow. Connect your registration form to our API and swag will be sent out on command as users register.

      You can even get creative to send something more substantial to anyone that registers early, or different swag packs based on the level of ticket they purchase. The opportunities here are endless.
  • Sponsorships
    • Sponsorships are the backbone of the corporate conference industry, so how do you get the most out of sponsorships in a virtual environment? Swag! Arguably, in a purely digital environment, physical sponsor swag is the easiest way to stand out in the crowd, given you r eno longer competing with hundreds of otehr companies and the swag theta re giving out. If you are an event sponsor, or you are offering sponsorships for your own event, try co-branding the registration swag items and pair it with a digital campaign to watch a video or book a meeting to redeem even more swag. Use the swag as an incentive to drive more attention to you and your company. If you do it right, you’ll be the talk of the show!
  • Engage Attendees after virtual conference 
    • Sending swag after the conference is a great way to keep the relationship going and have an excuse for your sales team to follow up with attendees. Pair this with remarketing campaigns to stay top of mind.
  • Collect swag for visiting certain amount of sessions 
    • We love being able to create some excitement over visiting each session. This is a great way to ensure attendees are actually watching and attending each session is by allowing them to redeem some points toward swag or collecting swag for each session, something that may be difficult to do in a physical environment.

      This creates some excitement and makes for the virtual experience fun! Especially if each link prompts to some mentions on social media to create more awareness for your brand.

Creating a virtual event has endless possibilities to create for a more meaningful connection especially when tied with swag. Remember, in a  virtual environment, data and customization is your secret weapon. Pair it with swag to create remarkable experiences that get people excited about your company. The shift to fully digital meetups will take getting used to, but they present new opportunities for marketers to work through the challenges, get creative and stand out in the crowd. For those that embrace it the upside is endless!
For more information on how we can help you humanize your next virtual conference contact our team or get started here!



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