By Virginia Sanders
- Enhanced Virtual Trade Shows and Webinars
- Enhanced Virtual Training
- 5 Tips for Integrating Physical Brand Experiences with Virtual Events
In recent years, augmented reality (AR) opened up exciting, innovative ways for brands to connect with people by applying virtual reality to physical reality. Today, brands have an equally compelling opportunity to accomplish the same thing but in reverse — by applying physical reality to virtual events.
Augmented reality (AR) uses virtual overlays atop the real world to enhance how humans experience training, televised sports broadcasts, video games, and even the labels on wine bottles. The experiences created by well-executed AR are invigorating, lively, and memorable.
Enhanced virtual experiences let people interact with physical objects during virtual events. Tactile marketing items have the potential to be just as impactful, helpful, and memorable as augmented reality. Enhancing a virtual event with physical, branded content is primed to be one of the greatest marketing strategies of the coming months and even years.
Read on to find out how some top brands are boldly leading the way by combining virtual events with Tactile Marketing Automation. You’ll also learn how you can successfully enhance your own upcoming virtual event.
Enhanced Virtual Trade Shows and Webinars
First movers still have the advantage with virtual events. But just like with live events, every other vendor and speaker is your competition for attention. Competition will increase when a trade show goes virtual and digital marketing messages fight for attention about the event.
The teams that pair physical brand experiences with their virtual booths and webinar sessions will ensure that their brands are remembered. After remote attendees shut down their computers for the day, your physical branding will remain and reinforce the story you’ve worked so hard to share.
Step 1: Drive attendance.
Stand out from the competition with personalized, physical invitations.
Terminus, an ABM software firm, drove a 50% response rate and 46% attendance rate to their #FlipMyFunnel events with an oversized invite. They delivered a giant printed funnel to targeted contacts, physically demonstrating the difference to the sales funnel and explaining how their contacts will be able to “challenge the status quo.”
Step 2: Bring the trade show or webinar to life in a package.
Put the energy of a live event into the hands of a remote attendee. Here are a few ideas to motivate your audience:
- Include materials you would have given out at a physical trade show, such as collateral, swag, and snacks.
- Provide a personal and warm welcome to each attendee with a handwritten note.
- Encourage attendee networking with a spin the wheel that suggests online icebreakers.
- Use a custom effect like scratch-and-reveal or pull away tabs to reveal raffle numbers for a giveaway that will occur live.
- Include a “Top Secret” sealed envelope to be opened only during the event.
Step 3: Follow up.
Use a multichannel approach to follow up. A well-known SaaS company sent high-value attendees of their recent live event a signed book from their keynote speaker, Colin Powell, paired with a handwritten note. SDRs and AEs received a task in Salesforce upon kit delivery so they could place a perfectly timed follow-up call.
At PFL, we’ve used a popcorn mailer and sales outreach to invite recipients to keep the conversation going. This campaign saw a 32% response rate.
When you enhance your virtual experience for your audience, they’ll walk away saying, “That company went above and beyond, and that’s the kind of team I want to work with.”
Enhanced Virtual Training
Webinars and online trade shows aren’t the only virtual events to consider. Virtual training creates another great channel for sharing your brand story, whether that training is for end users, partners, or even your employees.
At one leading software service company, trainers traditionally instructed all new solution engineers in person, flying them to the company headquarters from all over the country and even the world. When forced to pivot quickly to convert the training into a virtual event, the trainers were determined to bring the positive energy of in-person training to their virtual event in as many ways as possible.
The trainers partnered with PFL to deliver not just the bare necessities but also items that enhance virtual training and make trainees feel like part of the team. The training kit includes:
- Company swag, training materials, and snacks: These are common essentials for long, intensive training sessions.
- Colorful glasses for the class photo: The class photo had been a long-standing tradition. Rather than sacrifice tradition because of the switch to virtual, the trainers sent colorful glasses so that the class could take pictures and be identified as members of the same group, regardless of distance.
- A sealed, secret envelope: Normally, the trainers handed a certificate to each solution engineer for completing the training course. To enhance the virtual training, they sent out a sealed envelope that secretly contained the certificate, with each individual’s name on it.
A breakthrough box from PFL’s Creative Collection provided a polished unboxing experience and helped our customer get the boxes out of the door fast.
The possibilities for enhancing virtual training don’t stop there, either. Consider these additional use cases:
- When training end-users with different roles, send personalized kits with materials specific to the roles. Give them reference guides that help with their unique responsibilities.
- When a learner abandons self-directed eLearning, automatically trigger a personalized mailer to encourage completion, perhaps with a coffee packet for an energy boost.
- Reward learners with a physical gift as they complete major training milestones.
5 Tips for Integrating Physical Brand Experiences with Virtual Events
Here are some tips for making the physical reality of your brand an integral part of your virtual event:
Tip #1: Creative thinking is a must. Sending swag and a snack is thoughtful, but it’s also the starting line for the race to win attention and brand awareness. Think about the messaging of your event and ensure that everything in the package supports that messaging. Find ways to make attendance not just an obligation, but a thrill to look forward to. If those creative ideas prove elusive, let us know! Our expert team members can help boost your strategy.
Tip #2: Automate the customer journey for best results. Using our TMA solution, you get full visibility into your campaign’s progress, detailed analytics for reporting, and an orchestrated multichannel journey. You’ll be able to automatically trigger fulfillment based on registration or any other ideal timing, and you can personalize each package to the recipient. If automation isn’t an option for whatever reason, PFL can still help print and fulfill personalized and branded kits that create a memorable moment. Speaking of quality branding….
Tip #3: Ensure the enhanced virtual experience package you send properly represents your brand. PFL prints and fulfills your packages in house — in fact, we’re a G7 certified print manufacturer, meaning we adhere to the strictest of color calibration so we can consistently and accurately represent our customers’ brands. Not only that, but with us you can always be certain that your brand gets top billing, not ours (which isn’t always the case with direct mail). With PFL, you can rest assured that your brand gets the full spotlight.
Tip #4: Set a deadline for attendees to receive the complete enhanced experience. If someone registers a day before an online event, that creates a shipping challenge for your event package. Don’t be afraid to set a deadline on getting the “full experience” so that you can ship the package in a timely and budget-friendly manner. You can even use the deadline to create a sense of urgency and exclusiveness in your communications.
Tip #5: Ship to preferred addresses. In case your attendees are working from home, you might want to capture preferred addresses for shipping, as we previously demonstrated on this blog. PFL can make it even easier for you. If you don’t want to capture home address information in your CRM platform or you’re short on resources, our professional services team can stand up a campaign and host a web page for collecting addresses. We can customize the page for your brand and get it running in just one day! PFL will then fulfill orders upon form completion and provide order status details back to you.
For your key online events, creating an enhanced virtual experience (or EVE for short) will make your brand memorable, differentiate you from the competition, and demonstrate your company’s strength as a leader in the market. PFL is the leader in tactile marketing automation and will help you to not only enhance your virtual event, but to do so in such a way that any competing events seem lackluster in comparison.
We’re certainly on the EVE of amazing innovations in marketing!
So, would you rather be a successful innovator today…or scramble later when you’re forced to catch up to the competition?