The Event Marketer’s Guide to Virtual Swag Bags: 15 Ideas to Wow Your Attendees

April 8, 2022

Meisha Bochicchio, Senior Content Marketing Manager at Goldcast

By now, every savvy field marketer knows the true value of virtual and hybrid events. 

And while the brand and revenue-boosting benefits may be epic, there’s one thing virtual attendees have been missing out on: swag.

That’s a problem. Because, let’s face it, sometimes the only thing keeping us from skipping an event is the thought of the fabulous freebies we might be missing out on. 

With an unforgettable virtual swag bag, your attendees can stop missing out and start maxing out on the same awesome swag they’re used to seeing at in-person events — only this time, with a fun and virtual-friendly twist.

If you’re looking to wow your attendees and use branded swag to make a powerful impression at your next virtual or hybrid event, we’ve got all the virtual swag bag ideas you need to help make it happen. 

Ready? Let’s get gifting!

Here’s what we’ll cover:

  • What is a virtual swag bag? 
  • What are the benefits of a virtual swag bag?
  • 15 brilliant swag bag ideas to wow your attendees
  • How to pick and promote the perfect swag bag for your virtual and hybrid events

💡 Tip: Ready to take your event gifting to the next level? Our smart gifting masterclass with Nina Butler, Senior Director of Revenue Marketing at Alyce, is a must-watch!

What is a virtual swag bag? 

Swag simply means ‘stuff we all get.’ 

Which is funny, really, because in many cases, it’s the one thing virtual attendees don’t get. 

Traditional swag bags are typically handed out as you enter the venue at an in-person event or later when your vendor visits begin. 

Swag bags give attendees a place to collect and store all of the promotional items you and your sponsors give away throughout the event — kind of like trick-or-treating, just with branded bags and stationary instead of empty pillowcases and bite-sized Snickers.

Swag bags for virtual events can go one of two ways:

  1. They contain all the swag you need but in digital format and are “handed out” in your virtual lobby or exhibitor/sponsor booths.
  2. They contain similar physical gifts to what attendees usually receive at in-person events but are mailed out before or after the event.

Whichever option you go for, the idea behind virtual conference gifts is always the same: to boost brand awareness and increase engagement

As well as a few other nifty benefits too. 👇🏻

What are the benefits of a virtual swag bag?

A virtual swag bag that packs a physical punch takes time and budget. 

Selecting the perfect small gifts for your brand. Customizing them. Paying for them. Mailing them. It’s a whole thing.

If you’re going to go to all that effort, you’ll want to know what you’re getting back in return.

Here are just ten of the benefits virtual event swag bags can deliver: 

  1. Swag bags make your event more engaging through a shared experience everyone can buzz about, even if you’re at home alone.
  2. They’re a slick way to introduce your event theme and tell a compelling brand story. 
  1. They provide strategic product placement opportunities to drive brand awareness for you, your sponsors, and exhibitors.
  2. They fuel brand recall after the event is over. Truly awesome swag doesn’t just stir up positive brand connotations for attendees; it inspires swag-envy in everyone else who sees it too. 😏
  3. They allow you to personalize and customize the virtual swag to deliver a personalized experience for attendees.
  4. Instead of worrying about missing or surplus stock, fully digital swag bags have a super simple set-up.
  5. Digital swag also creates a more convenient and sustainable alternative than physical swag bags. 
  1. Digital swag bags can be a data goldmine. When was each digital bag opened? What was purchased with donation or gift cards? Which discount codes were used most often? And so much more.
  2. Sending gift bags in advance reminds attendees to show up and helps build anticipation for the event.

Used strategically, swag bags can present a curated call to action for attendees to continue engaging with your brand, sponsors, or exhibitors.

Source: Markletic

15 brilliant swag bag ideas to wow your attendees

So you're sold on swag. Nice move!

Your attendees are going to love you for it. But now what?

How do you know which virtual event bag ideas will tell your story, excite your prospects, and help take your virtual event game to the next level? 

Here are 15 awe-inspiring ideas to help you nail it.

1. Go totally virtual with digital-only swag 🖥️

Going digital has obvious financial benefits — no stock investment, postage needs, or staffing requirements. But for trade show and event attendees, digital gift bags can be just as exciting and, in some cases, even more useful than physical swag.

Examples: 

  • Event essentials: an agenda, event navigation, and speaker bios
  • Educational gifts: whitepapers, ebooks, and online courses
  • Participation gifts: virtual fitness classes, app subscriptions, print-out coloring pages, and downloadable Slack stickers
  • Monetary gifts: discounts, coupons, donation allowances, and gift cards

2. Show you (self)-care 💆🏻

Since the pandemic hit, Google searches for ‘self-care’ have shot up — and stayed there. With customers becoming increasingly aware of which brands actually care for them, virtual swag bags are the perfect opportunity to show that you do!

Examples: face masks, sleep sprays, oils, diffusers, candles, uplifting and motivating books, massagers, retreat discounts, treatment codes, wellness planners, and cozy clothing

3. The basics 💁🏽

Branded items to be used during and after the event are a great way to boost engagement while driving brand awareness with free promo opportunities.

Examples: t-shirts, hats, pens, wristbands, lanyards, notepads, and drinkware

4. Food is life 😋

We all have to eat. And if your event is longer than a few hours, attendees will need to feast along the way. So whether it’s a sweet or savory snack, a cooking kit, or discounted food delivery, prioritize those tasty treats. 

Example: cookies, baking kits, fruit baskets, candy selections, healthy grazing options, branded cupcakes, UberEats codes, DoorDash discount, and Grubhub vouchers

5. A drink a day 🥤

Beverage-related gifts are great for bringing everyone at your event together. Whether you’re toasting with tea or celebrating with champagne, be sure to hype up the hydration. 

Examples: wine-tasting, tea-tasting, coffee selections, and seltzer samples

Source: Heinz Marketing

6. Travel in style ✈️

If you’re diving into the world of hybrid, travel-focused swag bags are a great way to go. 

Examples: luggage tags, travel toothbrushes, passport cases, airport lounge passes, discounted parking, airline codes, and neck pillows

7. Office essentials 💼

Fuel the ultimate office FOMO with essentials sure to attract attention for your brand.

Examples: wireless chargers, lanyards, 3-in-1 pens, mouse mats, tote bags, laptop bags, briefcases, and desk calendars 

8. Games 🎲

Engagement matters. And with nearly 60% of marketers using event gamification strategies at their virtual events, you can keep the fun going with your virtual gift bags. 

Examples: playing cards, fidget spinners, travel games, and downloadable app access 

9. Seasonal swag 🌦️

Whether the sun is shining or the rain is pouring, think about what your event attendees need this time of year. Then brand it up and send it out. 

Examples: sunscreen, inflatables, sunglasses, umbrellas, ponchos, discounts on adventure days, cinema tickets, and duffel bags  

10. Fitness gifts 🧘🏿

Break up your event with a fitness class and provide the branded swag attendees will need to take part. 

Examples: yoga mats, resistance bands, sweatbands, water bottles, jump ropes, and digital discount cards for gym and class facilities

11. Techy treats ⌨️

We’ve all gotten a little cozier with tech since Covid hit. With working from home (WFH) becoming the norm, use your virtual swag bags to provide the WFH equipment your conference attendees never knew they needed.

Examples: webcam covers, laptop stands, cable tidies, seat massagers, keyboards, mice, desk lamps, ring lights, focus apps, and discounted phone lines/internet access 

12. Movie night 🍿

Maintaining focus is hard work. Reward your attendees at the end of your event with a fun-packed movie night kit they’re sure to love. 

Example: streaming access (voucher for Netflix, Sky, Prime, Apple, etc.), popcorn, drinks, chocolate, or even a gift card to spend at a nationwide movie chain  

13. Go green 💚

Sustainability is becoming an increasingly important consideration for customers. Let your attendees know environmental friendliness is top of mind for your brand with gorgeously sustainable swag.

Example: plant a tree, send seeds or potted flowers, bamboo straws, reusable cutlery and food bags, plastic-free water bottles, shampoo bars, and cosmetics

Source: Simon-Kucher

14. Influence the influencers 📸

If you really want your attendees to share their experience, give them the tools to do it (and gain some totally organic promo at the same time). 

Example: a selfie ring, tripod, disposable cameras, clip-on lenses, or discount codes for photoshop and editing apps

15. Hamper heaven 🧺

Spoiled for choice? Go ahead and mix it up! Different virtual swag bag ideas will work for different attendees. A little variety can go a long way in making sure there’s something for everyone.

Example: customize your own branded or event-focused bags with a variety of swag

How to pick and promote the perfect swag bag for your virtual and hybrid events

Once you’ve chosen the best virtual swag bag idea for your unique event theme and goals, you’re ready to get them out to your attendees. 

To make sure every attendee gets the right swag at the right time, don’t miss these key event planning steps!

  • Collect a mailing address at the point of registration, so you know where to send your swag bag (without having to chase).
  • If you want to ensure only registrants who attended your event receive their virtual swag, collect the mailing address via a link in your virtual lobby (just remember they won’t be able to use the product on the day).
  • Use the registration process to find out what your registrants actually want to see in their swag bags.
  • Add a ‘create your own’ option when registering for ultra-personalized swag content.
  • Consider costs. Virtual gift bags that require mailing will need a little more budget. And swag comes in all shapes and sizes, which can impact shipping costs. Luckily, virtual events usually cost less to execute, so you can easily offset this expense.
  • Remember to allow enough lead time to get your swag out to attendees.
  • Incorporate wearable virtual swag using your brand logo and colors to gain extra promo points. 
  • Add an event hashtag to your virtual swag pack to encourage those social shares and create organic content that you can repurpose.
  • Create an unboxing experience. The better your swag reveal, the more your attendees will treasure the experience.
In 2020, the most common owned promotional products were writing instruments, t-shirts, drinkware, and bags. Break the mold with virtual swag that really shakes things up. Source: Statista.

Skyrocket your event success with swoon-worthy swag 🚀

Whether you’re going for a digital-only virtual swag bag or mailing out physical products, swag is the cherry on top that every virtual attendee wants.

But virtual swag is also a tool that every brand needs in its event marketing arsenal, especially when it comes to virtual or hybrid events.

With the right approach and some seriously irresistible swag, you’ll elevate the attendee experience to be just as magical as the feeling of networking face-to-face.

Prove your event ROI. Try Goldcast for your next event.

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