It seems as though in a blink of an eye the world has universally accepted virtual reality as the norm.
But 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 a tangible feel that technology just can not offer. But there’s a way to fix that. Because let’s be honest, one of the best things about going to a conference is the swag!
Why is swag important for virtual conferences and events?
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.
Swag 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. Swag is also a key driver of sponsorship revenue via strategic partnerships at events. But in this new digital world, how can we make virtual reality and swag meet?
How to overcome the challenges of virtual events
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 the user experience
The first thing to ask is, what is your main goal of organizing or attending a traditional conference?
Is it brand awareness? Collecting as many business cards at your booth to later retarget? Is it to network or 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 gaps that swag can help you bridge:
Brand Awareness is probably one of the biggest reasons to attend and/or organize a conference. 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 is a 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.
This part might seem tricky. How do you get your sales team to get out there in a virtual conference to network?
Most virtual conference platforms have profile pages for all attendees to match up 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? Send them to a redeem page for a special swag item 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? Create a dedicated session for your clients only. This can be an invite only session blocked off for your clients. Then send a nice follow up note with swag 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’s easier to do than you think.
Our team of Swag Experts can help you take this a step further. Reach out for assistance making these experiences happen with ease through our platform and integrations. Which brings us to step 2: creating swag to meet your goals!
Step 2 – Create awesome swag
Creating swag is the fun part! And 80% of the work is done with setting up the right approach. You want to select items that match up with your goals.
For example, 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. Conference swag gets a bad rap from companies that went with generic swag that’s been overdone and/or is of cheap quality. And quality is the keyword here, because you want your swag to send the right message. Show people 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!
Now you’ve identified your goals for your virtual event and picked out the perfect swag, there’s only one more step: get it into 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 a simple redeem page.
Step 3 – Use Redeem Pages to Automate Painlessly
So you figured out your goal and selected your swag, now what?
Setting up an event – virtual or not – is a lot of work! It’s time to take it easy. With redeem pages, you can automate the process so sending swag becomes a piece of cake. By the way, don’t let the word ‘automate’ put you off. It’s as easy as setting up a form!
Our team at SwagUp can create unique redeem pages for each touch point at the virtual conference with unique URLs 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 really that simple. No need to store swag in your office or home, keep an excel file up to date, and lug 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:
Arguably the most exciting part of going to conferences! Who doesn’t love to collect their swag bag at the registration desk? For that exciting moment of “signing in” and picking up conference swag, replicate that experience virtually by adding a redeem link to the process.
Pro tip: If you capture recipients’ address details in the registration process, you won’t even need to send them through a redeem flow. Connect your registration form to our API and swag will be sent out automatically 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 are the backbone of the corporate conference industry. So how do you get the most out of sponsorships in a virtual environment? You guessed it: swag!
In a pure digital environment, physical sponsor swag is the easiest way to stand out in the crowd especially since you are no longer competing with hundreds of other companies and the swag they are 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.
Do it right and you’ll be the talk of the show 🤩
AFTER THE VIRTUAL CONFERENCE
Engage attendees after the 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.
ACHIEVEMENTS AND MILESTONES
We love being able to create some excitement over visiting each session.
Allowing attendees to claim swag for visiting a certain number of sessions is a great way to ensure maximum participation and engagement.
You can either use a points system to allow them to redeem some points toward swag or offer swag for each session. The cool part is this can be more difficult to do in a physical environment, so strike this one up as a win for virtual event swag!
Reward swag 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!
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