This article was written by guest contributor Luke Smith.

Virtual events have become a normal part of everyday life. The lack of in-person gatherings created by the pandemic naturally enhanced the importance of video conferences, online meetings & webinars.

However, as pandemic fears ease, it’s becoming clear that the interest in remote gatherings will be challenged due to they will be competing with in-person gatherings.  The questions are, how will digital events continue to evolve going forward, and how can hosts create gatherings that are unique, innovative, and memorable?

Looking to the Future of Virtual Conferences

According to one survey reported by video software company Vimeo, 72% of marketers and professionals fully expect to continue to attend at least the same number of video conferences, online meetings and webinars when in-person events resume.

This makes sense, since the value of a virtual conference doesn’t purely come from the ability to adjust to external pressures created by a health crisis. Online  gatherings have plenty of value all on their own. For instance, they:

●     Bring together like-minded professionals, who may find it difficult or impossible  to all be  physically present in the same space at the same time.

●     Dramatically reduce overhead costs.

●     Are extremely convenient compared to the hassle of making travel, lodging, food, and other arrangements.

The problem is that many video conferences, online meetings and webinars feel the same. That’s why it’s important for those hosting these online, virtual events to consider how they can make the experience unique. One of the best ways to shake things up is by utilizing promotional products.

How Promotional Products Improve Video Conferences & Webinars

Before discussing the importance of promotional products in an online meeting  setting, it’s worth explaining why these free, seemingly trivial items should make the cut for any event, virtual or otherwise, in the first place. After all, when you’re organizing an event, it’s tempting to cut the need for a SWAG bag out entirely.

This can save you a lot of logistical trouble, from finding sponsors, to getting samples, assembling bags, and getting them into the hands of attendees. This requires a heroic amount of effort as you need to orchestrate each step of the process.

Why bother with the Stuff We All Get then? Because it has serious short, and long  term benefits. On average, promotional products are kept for as long as 16 months, creating thousands of impressions on consumers during that time.

Along with this marketing power, SWAG also has a number of other benefits. For instance, promotional products:

●     Help with engagement.

●     Improve branding.

●     Cultivate lead generation.

●     Enhance customer retention.

While the value of a promotional product is easy to establish, the difficulty is integrating it into a video conference, online meeting or webinar. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to offer virtual conference attendees both physical and digital giveaways, even when they’re dialing into the event from a thousand miles away.

Just because you're attending a virtual event doesn't mean you can't get promotional products and SWAG.

Incorporating Promotional Products into Virtual Conferences, Online Meetings & Webinars

If you want to tap into the power of SWAG in a video conference or webinar, you have to think outside of the box a bit. After all, you won’t be able to hand a bag of goodies to someone over a table when they arrive. Instead, you have to find unique ways to fit promotional products into a virtual setting.

This could be shipping a physical bag to an attendee before or after the virtual event. It could also be giving them digital content during the event.

Either way, using both physical and digital SWAG is smart. This can be anything from a sponsored e-book, to an event-labeled water bottle and anything in between. By using both digital and physical giveaways, you can create powerful in-person experiences while also tapping into the instant gratification element of a digital download.

Here are a few other suggestions for ways to incorporate promotional products into your video conference, online meeting or webinar:

●     Use physical SWAG as a way to get early sign-ups to commit to your event.

●     Remember, quality counts, especially when you’re shipping something to an event attendee.

●     Incorporate your promotional products into the experience, like automatically sending SWAG at sign-in.

●     Use giveaways as follow-up marketing to maintain communication with attendees after the fact.

However you choose to use your promotional products, make sure to create a clear strategy. This is important, as it avoids slipping into the realm of just “giving away free crap.”

Instead, make sure that each and every promotional product that you offer has a distinct and purposeful marketing objective that is designed to increase the effectiveness of your virtual conference.

Using Promotional Products to Elevate Virtual Conferences, Online Meetings & Webinars

Promotional products aren’t just a mindless grab-bag of freebies that no one cares about. They’re a distinctly powerful tool that can bring a virtual event to life.

Digital products can provide instant gratification and offer unique value to attendees. Physical SWAG bags can encourage early sign-ups, cultivate follow-up conversations, and put samples in the hands of consumers.

With video conferences, online meetings and webinars, the challenge of staying unique and fresh can be difficult. Promotional products offer an ideal way to simultaneously boost the marketing and engagement aspects of your online event, creating a more memorable experience in the process.

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