5 Reasons Digital Trade Show Incentives Are Better Than Swag

5 Reasons Digital Trade Show Incentives Are Better Than Swag
In-person events have been on hold for more than a year, but with pandemic restrictions lifting and vaccination rates rising, it’s time to get your trade show strategy ready. As conferences and other industry gatherings start to return in the second half of 2021, exhibitors and sponsors will be understandably eager to collect new leads. That’s where digital trade show incentives come in to help you stand out and drive more traffic to your booth.

It’s no secret that showgoers love getting something for free. Research has shown that more than half of attendees are more likely to stop at an exhibit that is offering a giveaway of some sort. Traditional promotional products present a number of disadvantages, though, including the fact that almost every company has them. When preparing for your first exhibit after the pandemic, consider instead distributing digital rewards to booth visitors or as part of your gamification strategy. Here are five benefits that digital trade show incentives can offer.

1. They’re Contactless

While almost everyone is looking forward to the return of in-person events, some aspects that were completely normal pre-pandemic will now seem inappropriate. Physical swag items must pass through many hands before reaching the attendee — the manufacturer, the employee unloading the box, the other booth visitors who sifted through the pile before taking one. Not to mention it requires close proximity to complete the handoff. Since a digital reward is delivered to the recipient’s email, the only thing they’ll need to touch to redeem it is their own phone or computer.

2. They’re More Compelling Than Promotional Products

Common event advice is to give booth visitors and prospects something they can use, but how many people really need yet another branded T-shirt, pen, or tote bag? No matter how creative you try to get, no product will be universally useful. People always love gift cards, though: NRF surveys have shown them to be the most requested gift year after year, and the U.S. gift card market is expected to grow to over $221 billion by 2024. That growth is driven in large part by the increasing popularity and adoption of e-gift cards. Offering a digital reward for a popular brand or even a virtual Visa or Mastercard is likely to entice a lot more attendees than standard corporate swag.

3. They Don’t Create (Environmental or Financial) Waste

So many promotional items given out at trade shows end up in the trash, either at the event or once the attendees get back home. As Elizabeth Segran said in a piece for business media outlet Fast Company: “When you think about all of the energy and resources that go into making just one of the tote bags that I have just thrown into the trash — only to end up in a landfill — the impact (is) staggering.” Handing out more sustainable products is better, but it still won’t stop some recipients from dropping them in the garbage. This is bad not only for the environment but also for your brand and your bottom line. Avoid wasting your precious marketing dollars on unwanted swag by using a digital rewards management platform that offers 100% refunds for unclaimed incentives.

4. They Give People Choice While Still Targeting a Specific Audience

If your booth is at a travel show, maybe your go-to swag item is a neck pillow. If you’re a contracting company at a home and garden show, maybe you opt for branded screwdrivers. Switching to digital trade show incentives doesn’t mean you have to give up targeting your audience. Choose incentives that are related to your event and product. In the examples above, you could use rewards for brands like Hotels.com, Delta Airlines, The Home Depot, and Pottery Barn. Better yet, offer recipients a choice of several related reward options, so they can select the one most useful to them. You can even throw in an Amazon, Starbucks, or charity donation option for good measure, if you want.

5. They Help You Build Lasting Connections (and Leads!)

Anyone can come to your booth, pick up that piece of swag on the counter, and walk away. But to get their digital trade show incentive, they need to provide an email address for delivery. As your booth employees collect those emails, they can talk with and qualify prospects and add that contact information to your marketing database as new leads. In addition, you have a built-in way to follow up with those attendees when they go to their email to claim their digital incentive. Customize the reward email with your logo and messaging to keep your brand top-of-mind with recipients.

Getting Started With Digital Trade Show Incentives

Once you’ve decided that digital rewards are the best way to attract more trade show booth traffic, increase leads, and boost brand awareness, what’s the next step? Make it easier with a digital rewards platform like Rybbon, which can help you automatically deliver incentives in the U.S. and globally, customize reward emails, track your recipients and budget, and more.

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Hannah Prince

Content Marketing Manager

Hannah is a reformed journalist who has more than 15 years of experience and now focuses on content marketing for innovative tech companies.