Thanks to COVID, event organizers are finding creative ways to make virtual corporate events as engaging as the in-person events they are replacing. Without a physical connection to the ideas, products or people that make these events engaging, it can be difficult to create the same feelings of excitement among participants who are forced to interact solely through our new digital world.
High-quality swag and swag bags are one great solution to the distance challenge presented by the pandemic! Custom goodies, whether big or small, provide a tangible connection to your event that will help people feel more connected to others, and more willing to engage with your content.
There are lots of fun ways you can use swag to make your virtual event more successful. The trick is getting creative with when to send swag, and thinking about meaningful ways that swag can be an interactive experience.
To provide some inspiration, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite strategies from customers planning virtual sales kickoffs, virtual conferences, virtual trade shows and more! Here are a few ideas on how to use swag to make your virtual event more engaging:
Before the event: Creating Excitement
Long before your virtual event starts, it’s important to build excitement about the event among participants. Swag can be a useful tool for connecting your brand or event with attendees. Use pre-event swag to gather information, build excitement and get people invested in your virtual event.
Send a mystery item that will get registrants interested and invested
After people sign up to attend your event, get them intrigued by sending a fun or even mysterious item that hints at what your virtual event experience will be like! No one wants more time in front of their computer for a boring event, so prove that your experience won’t be.
These items can suggest a specific activity you’re planning, hint at the theme to your event or simply delight your attendees in a way that’s related to what your event is about. For example, we’ve seen customers send each attendee a rubber wristband embossed with the anagram of the keynote speaker! Bonus points for creating a hashtag or social media campaign to build excitement among the full audience of virtual event attendees. Try to get in front of your target audience of would be registrants.
Swag Idea: custom silicone wristband
Create a Swag Giveaway to build excitement and create a pattern of engagement
If you want your attendees to get in the habit of engaging with your content, incentivize them to do so by sending a Swag Giveaway link that rewards their participation with a small gift.
Our easy-to-use giveaways feature lets you create a custom landing page tailored to your needs, and send it seamlessly to your attendees. Gather information about their group preferences, content they may be interested and whatever else you want to know! When they’re done, they’ll be able to choose a gift that we can distribute right to their door.
Distribute a custom swag box with event-related gifts
One of the easiest and most effective ways to get people excited is by sending them a customized swag gift box chalked full of great items related to your virtual event. Custom t-shirts or custom hats are a good start, but the more unique you can be, the better!
Try to think about what items might actually be useful during the course of your event as well. A pen, notebook and phone charger set shows that you’ve invested in giving each participant the tools they need to get the most out of your event. The rest is up to them! Remember— we can help you customize your own boxes and easily distribute them around the world!
During the event: Create Connections
Once your virtual event is underway, swag can be the bridge that links people together despite their physical differences. The trick here is to think about which items will make people feel connected, and how they can be used to make your event all the more engaging. Remember that for most of these ideas, you’ll want to have your swag delivered to people’s hands well before your virtual event takes place.
Incorporate swag into a moment of physical connection between your participants
This is where swag can do an awesome job of helping you recapture some of the magic that comes from getting a bunch of excited people in a big room together. It’s not that this energy is gone with virtual events— you just need to find different ways to foster it!
Try sending a wearable item to every participant as part of your pre-event swag gifts. Then, ask them to all wear their swag during a specific portion of your experience. Seeing one another in the same item of clothing, or holding the same fun gift, creates a sense of community that will naturally make people more excited to participate to the fullest extent!
Create interactive experiences using a custom swag box
Create touch points throughout your event that you can link to physical swag delivered right to participants’ doors. Anything you can do to make virtual event activities more immersive is a good idea for keeping people engaged throughout its duration.
Consider creating a swag box full of items meant to make break activities more engaging. For example, if you’re planning on having a guided meditation session during a break, send everyone a custom aroma diffuser! If you plan on including some sort of social cocktail hour, try also adding a customized tumbler.
Plan your swag box around these activities and you’ll keep people hooked on your virtual event. Bonus points for asking participants not to open their boxes until the event begins!
Swag Idea: Allay Diffuser
Gamify engagement and use swag to reward top participants
Gamification means measuring engagement using a point system, and encouraging more engagement by incentivizing participants to rack up those points! You can even create badges, trophies or anything else you want— at the end of the day it’s just about turning the experience into a game.
It’s also about rewarding people who play the game well! Swag is a great way to incentivize participation, especially when you gamify your event and create clear structures for winning prizes! Make sure people know what activities will offer them different rewards, and build excitement around the fact that winners will be celebrated. You’ll have to get creative in how you decide to create games related to engagement, but we can help you make people want to play.
For example, one of our clients offered attendees different badges for attending different breakout sessions at their virtual event. By the end, those who had gotten the most badges received fully-customized Apple AirPods and were celebrated as the most engaged participants.
Swag Idea: Gamify your virtual event so that the more you participate, the more points you build up. Offer three different prizes at the end of your event to people in three different tiers of points!
After the event: Keep the Glow
Swag can be useful in making sure people remain engaged with the core tenets of your event even after it is done and dusted. Follow-up gifts remind people of your brand, and underscore the value and excitement that your virtual event delivered them. You can also use it as a tool to prompt follow-up activities.
Send a small token to remind people of their experience and your brand
Small gifts make a big difference when they’re thoughtful. This is especially true now that people and places feel especially isolated and disconnected from one another. Sending a nice product along with a note will make people feel like your event was a chance for them to spend time in an engaging environment.
Things as small as a pop-socket or card-holder for phones would be enough to remind people that you appreciate their attendance. You can also go bigger and offer a useful gift like a phone charger or power bank. The point is simply to show people that they were a part of something special, and your brand was responsible.
Related: 7 Ideas for Virtual Event Follow-Up
Create a wellness kit to encourage recovery from digital fatigue
Digital fatigue is real. Too real. As an event planner you need to keep this in mind when setting up your virtual event. Do you best to prevent this from making your event overwhelming!
Once everything is done, however, you can deliver people fun items that let them know how much you appreciate them taking the time to be with you via webcam. Things like sleep masks, stone face rollers and even fidget spinners are helpful little tools to decompress and recover from too much time on Zoom calls. Welcome to the new normal.
Use a swag giveaway to collect information about your event’s success
To create the best virtual event possible, you will need to collect information from attendees about what worked and what didn’t. Use Swag.com’s giveaway feature to easily incentivize feedback from participants, and get the data you need. At the completion of an event survey, you can send them a giveaway link at swag.com where they can choose a gift.
Hold smaller follow-up events
Another way for you to keep the warm feelings from your event going and to help foster interaction among your audience is to host a smaller follow-up or networking event. During the event you can ask attendees to opt-in to a happy hour or other networking event based on location, or similar interests or job titles.
Or you can use a service like Radom-Coffee to create roulette style meet-ups after the event. This will allow people to be randomly paired with other attendees to set-up a time to meet for a quick lunch or coffee. This can help facilitate connections among attendees and encourage conversations without the awkwardness of one person having to ask
Engagement = Human Connections
These are just a few of the ways you can creatively incorporate swag into your virtual event! Smart gifting of gear and interactive experiences will make your attendees more excited about the event, and more engaged and present with the content during the event,and ultimately more connected with real, live people after the event.
For more inspiration on virtual event swag ideas, check out our blog posts on the subject!
How are you making your virtual events more engaging? Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to get featured!