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Building brand loyalty in 2021: digital product sampling & CRM

April 15, 2021
  ●  
Charlotte Crawford

TABLE OF CONTENTS

If recent industry news has shown us anything, it is the importance of owning our interactions and relationship with consumers. Google’s end to third-party cookies, Apple’s app tracking transparency policy change and even last year’s possible TikTok ban in the U.S all work to illustrate the increasing need for brand managers, sales associates and marketers alike to develop strategies that can independently manage consumer data and engagement.

It is no surprise that Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is currently the largest and fastest-growing enterprise application software category of 2021.

Increasingly, one of the top use cases for digital product sampling is the ability for brands to capture CRM (email addresses and declared first-party data) far more cost effectively than traditional CRM acquisition methods. In fact, offering a free product sample on your website or your ads can drive up to 7x higher conversion to CRM registration in comparison to a digital ad or CTA with no incentive.

By investing in channels like digital product sampling, brands can achieve the same or better CRM acquisition metrics while having their target consumer actually experience a product that is personalized to their lifestyle. CRM and digital product sampling inspire brand loyalty as brands plan for the future - let's see how.

What is CRM and why is it so important for Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) brands?  

CRMs are a one-stop-shop for engaging with customers. They also act as a “single source of truth” for prospect data. This allows varying departments (sales, marketing, customer service, IT, leadership, etc.) to speak in unison across multiple interactions and pick up right where the other left off with a specific customer or prospect. Even FMCG brands whose marketing and sales activities are not direct-to-consumer can benefit from the brand affinity CRM activities not only spark but maintain with customers and new audiences.

CRM answers foundational questions:

WHO: are our consumers and target  audiences?
WHAT: are consumers buying and not buying from us?
WHERE: are consumers shopping and engaging with us?
WHEN:  are consumers buying, browsing or engaging?
WHY: do consumers buy our product(s) or not?
HOW: do consumers find us?

From the customer’s perspective, they have an ongoing and evolving relationship with one brand - not a collection of different people across different departments, companies or retailers. So, it is pivotal for brands to regard their relationship with consumers as an ongoing conversation across offline and online touch points - rather than siloed individual events.

This understanding will determine who will gain customer loyalty and lead their categories in 2021 and beyond. In the case of customer experience, the whole is definitely greater than the sum of its parts.

brand loyalty - Alicia Thomas Klaviy quote

CRM allows customer and prospect engagement to become a scalable and growth-driven activity for FMCG brands, rather than administrative heavy guesswork. As Salesforce has stated, “today’s consumers expect fast personalized support at any time of day or night.” And in a world where digital adoption, e-grocery and eCommerce are here to stay - that is only possible with a digital and data-driven CRM strategy.

Digital product sampling & CRM

The possibilities for consumer insights and demographic targeting are some of the  pivotal differences between digital and traditional product sampling. Sampler’s digital sampling programs allow for seamless integration into your CRM - this drives personalization, consumer focused innovation and omni channel customer experiences for your brand, here’s how.

Personalization

Corner of a marketer's computer open with gmail open ready to start their brand loyalty strategy.

CRM strategies paired with digital product sampling provides a personalized experience for consumers from the moment they claim their sample all the way to writing a review to purchase. This kind of customer journey is full of actionable consumer insights for brands, and was once far out of reach with stand alone in-store and in-person sampling.

For example, a snack brand can leverage all of the dietary restriction insights they collected during their digital product sampling program to ensure consumers receive email content that speaks directly to their unique interests and lifestyle.

Our sampling experts guide our brand partners on how to consistently leverage their email opt-ins to drive brand objectives at every stage of the sampling journey. Including how to utilize consumer insights for multi-channel post-program re-marketing initiatives with new or existing audiences. Depending on your brand objectives, email opt-in strategies could include illustrating brand differentiation from competitors or sparking brand affinity through value-driven organizational storytelling.

"We got an amazing number of emails out of the (digital product sampling) program. We had a really high opt-in rate which meant that consumers were liking our product and then we could then communicate with them. We also got their consumer reviews and that's not something you always get from a sampling program. They were all available to us and they are super valuable. You can't put a number on that."   Rosemary Whaling, VP of Marketing at Love Good Fats                                                     
Rosemary Whaling, VP of Marketing at Love Good Fats smiling with a blurred background                

Consumer focused innovation

Have you ever wondered why a certain product was not successful with a specific target audience? Or what kind of product messaging drives in-store purchases vs. e-commerce? And how can those purchases be made long term and ongoing? These market research questions can easily be answered with data with digital product sampling with Sampler - and these insights can be just as easily integrated and acted upon across your existing CRM.

For example, through their digital sampling program with Sampler, Kashi was able to receive direct consumer feedback from a target audience they were not directly engaging with (millennial moms and health conscious consumers in specific metro-areas). Our sampling experts were able to then categorize trends within that feedback to guide future Kashi product lines innovations.

This kind of customer focused innovation is foundational to long-lasting loyalty programs and repeat purchases. As simple as it sounds, people just want to be treated as people -- to have their concerns accurately acknowledged and to feel as part of the solution.

Ensuring your message not only stands out but also resonates with customer bases can make or break brands today in the existing competition-heavy FMCG landscape. As McKinsey & Co. discusses in their "Trends that will define 2021-- and beyond" report, “the COVID-19 crisis has created an imperative for companies to reconfigure their operations — and an opportunity to transform them. To the extent that they do so, greater productivity will follow.”

Data-driven CRM strategies paired with an ongoing digital product sampling program ensures your brand is consistently accounting for the evolving needs, expectations and pain points of your existing customers and emerging audiences.

Testing products or branding with sampling before sending them out to the rest of your CRM database could also determine the difference between inspiring one-time buyers or life-time loyal customers.  Digital product sampling with Sampler further allows testing to be an ongoing and systematic business function - as BigCommerce, Mckinsey & Co. and Forbes say it should be.

Holistic omni channel customer experiences

 Two people shopping and browsing vegetables at the grocery store

Omnichannel marketing provides a cohesive and seamless customer experience -  no matter where someone reaches out. Whether that be in-store, online, on social media and everything in between - omni-channel marketing strategies support a single view of the customer and their experience across platforms.

How does digital product sampling & CRM support omni channel marketing strategies?

82% of consumers consult their smartphones for research before making an in-store purchase. For today’s consumer, digital product sampling and CRM provides value, inspires a sense of reciprocity and ensures your brand is top-of-mind in pivotal consideration or inquiry moments.

brand loyalty - CRM buying journey

Imagine being able to seamlessly guide consumers from claiming your sample online to an in-store activation in their neighbourhood. Brands can then support their entire sales cycle through a single interaction with a customer. This kind of a holistic omni channel customer experience characterizes Sampler’s digital sampling programs. Brands are positioned as the leader of their category and consumers are enabled to harmoniously move around the brand’s ecosystem (offline and online) while rallying increased engagement at every stage.  

Takeaways

More than 50% of consumers expect to spend more in a post-pandemic future. FMCG brands can optimize their strategies to include CRM and digital product sampling in order to tap into this emerging market. The personalized, customer focused, innovative and omni channel features that define CRM and digital product sampling with Sampler will determine whose future brand loyalty programs break through the noise (and do not).

CRM
Consumer feedback
Shopper marketing
Retailer

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