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Virtual Swag Bags: How to Curate Memorable Event Experiences

In this article, we talk about the benefits of including virtual event bags in your next event. We also give you examples and ideas to curate swag bags that will benefit the event and the sponsors.

The event loot bag is synonymous with any conference, trade show, or just about any large-scale event. These usually consisted of branded merchandise from the event hosts or sponsors. While the contents vary based on the event, typical gifts include branded water bottles, pens, or notepads. Some gifts are used by the participants well after the events ended, but they are sometimes tossed. This is why it’s important to know how to curate memorable virtual event bags that the attendees will appreciate. 

In this article, we talk about the benefits of including virtual event bags in your next event. We also give you examples and ideas to curate swag bags that will benefit the event and the sponsors.

What is a virtual swag bag?

A virtual event bag or swag box is essentially a token to thank your audience for attending your virtual event. This can be a physical package that you ship to the participants or a digital gift sent by email. Think of it as the updated version of the traditional event goodie bag. 

What are the benefits of virtual event bags?

Marketing trend reports say that video content, including conferences, will make up 82% of the internet’s traffic by 2022. As virtual events continue to be a safe choice for large gatherings, we need to think of ways to capture in-person events’ magic and energy. Virtual swag bags can provide this. 

Virtual swag boxes also provide plenty of opportunities to improve brand awareness and produce leads for your organization and the event sponsors. They also offer an improved experience for the event participants, making them feel included. 

Physical vs. digital

Choosing between a physical or digital event bag depends on your event goals.  

Physical swag bags allow you to create a unified experience for the participants. Virtual event attendees are also more likely to post about the event on social media, further spreading awareness for your organization, cause, or the event’s sponsors. 

But you need to make sure that you have a system for collecting the participants’ addresses. You will need to factor in shipping time, especially if you expect the recipient to use the items during the online event. You also need to consider the possibility of late or lost packages. 

Digital swag bags reduce your environmental footprint by reducing needless waste. They’re easier to personalize and require a shorter lead time for distribution. Most important, digital event bags allow you to track engagement and return on investment, providing valuable data for your next events.

Virtual swag bag best practices

Whether you decide to go with physical or digital swag bags, here are some best practices that can be applied to both.

Be creative

You can give away e-books, virtual gift cards, discount codes, or access to free online courses. But you need to flex your creative muscles to achieve your branding goals or ROI for the event sponsors.

Due to COVID-19, SmashingConf brought their annual two-day San Francisco conference online. Their virtual swag bag combined event information with fun extras that participants can use even after the event. Participants received a black and white coloring page that they can print and color to relieve stress. They also got downloadable digital stickers that they can use on Slack.

Create a unified experience

With online events becoming the norm, it’s easy for attendees to feel disconnected. Themed physical or virtual event swag can help create an experience for your audience. 

In October 2020, tea aficionados in Europe attended a two-day virtual tea festival called Nomad Tea Festival Europe. Before this, the hosts held a global virtual event that attracted over 550 tea lovers from 59 countries. 

For the localized edition, the event organizers sent each participant a box filled with various tea types. The event attendees chose their drink from the selection as they participated in a virtual tea ceremony.

Increase event engagement by using swag as a reward

SheetsCon 2020 was a two-day online conference that brought together over 3,800 Google Sheets users from several industries to learn from industry experts and network. The virtual event was hosted by Google Sheets developer and data analytics instructor Ben Collins and his team. After the event, the organization gained about 3,500 new and high-quality leads for their online training business.

They created limited physical swag bags filled with statement t-shirts and stickers. To snag one, event attendees needed to either post about the event on social media or visit at least five virtual vendor booths. Hundreds of people competed for the 25 bags. After the event, the team decided to sell more shirts due to the high demand. 

Use virtual event bags to your advantage

Virtual event bags provide numerous benefits. It can reduce attendees’ virtual event fatigue and increase awareness for your organization, cause, and event sponsors. It’s important to curate your virtual event bag to fit your audience’s needs. This reduces needless waste, especially if you decide to ship physical gift bags. But if you choose to go digital, you will reduce your environmental footprint, plus it will be convenient for the participants. 

Use virtual swag bags to your advantage at your next event to create a virtual event experience that will stay with the attendees long after the event has ended. 

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