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Digital product sampling: everything you need to know

March 12, 2021
  ●  
Charlotte Crawford

Traditional product sampling methods (think Costco sample stands) have long lacked the actionable consumer data insights that drive successful brand marketing campaigns. COVID-19 has only intensified this shortcoming, with 78% of consumers unwilling to try samples in-store.

As Shopify's Chief Product Officer, Craig Miller, said when the COVID-19 pandemic began "it almost became 2030 overnight." What were once nice-to-have digital brand capacities are now brand must haves, including digital product sampling.

Despite the pandemic, CPG product sampling marketing is very much still alive and well, and here to stay. Consumers still want to try new products, but through contactless methods they deem safe.

Digital product sampling fills the gaps of traditional sampling by powering data-driven product experiences that not only ignite but maintain personalized relationships between people and brands.

So, what would starting a digital sampling program with Sampler look like for your brand? Let’s get into it

1. Pick your digital product sampling objective: moving beyond trial and awareness

Digital Product Sampling CPG Brand Objectives

Most product sampling initiatives support some kind of brand trial or awareness. Whether that be through drive-thru sampling stations, at-home party kits, or Amazon’s try at home digital sampling program.

What makes digital product sampling with Sampler unique is the wealth of consumer insights collected for each stage in the consumer journey. Sampler’s digital sampling solution uniquely empowers brands to move well beyond simple brand trial and awareness and tackle objectives at each brand stage (see table below).

Digital Product Sampling Brand Stages

These activities work to build the kind of consumer base that allows brands to conquer their category. Consumers crave this kind of meaningful relationship with brands, as seen in these stats:

  • 80% of consumers want personalization from retailers
  • 72% of consumers won’t make a purchase without reading a review
  • UGC is one of the most trusted forms of marketing for consumers

2. Choose your audience

The next step in building a digital product sampling program is selecting a desired target audience based on your brand objectives. With Sampler, you’ll have the ability to choose between sampling directly to your existing audience, or tapping into Sampler’s high-value audience and get your product into the hands of brand new consumers that match your target demographic. Let’s have a look at the difference between the two:

By selecting Sampler’s audience you get access to:

  • A hyper-engaged audience active on all social and digital platforms
  • 50M consumer reach potential
  • a 100k + Instagram following, 74k on Facebook
  • 700 consumer segments and 19+ data points per consumer, enabling brands to go granular or broad in their consumer targeting

By choosing to sample to your audience directly you can:

  • Leverage your organic website traffic to drive product sampling
  • Integrate a sampling CTA into your existing digital media buys (5x more users complete an ad’s call to action with a sample option than without)
Sampler's offer analytics dashboard for digital product sampling programs

Regardless of the audience you select, you’ll get complete access to Sampler’s analytics dashboard giving you real-time program tracking and insights on:

  • Demographics
  • Lifestyle habits
  • Family insights
  • Interests
  • Ratings & Reviews
  • Conversion to purchase

Sampler’s digital product sampling is also fully transparent with consumers around data collection processes and is compliant with all data privacy & security legislation (GDPR, CCPA, CASL, CAN-SPAM & PIPEDA).

3. Choose an offer type

The next step in building your digital sampling program is selecting the type of offer you want to provide your targeted audience: You’ll have the option to choose between a physical offer such as a product sample, physical coupon, or branded insert card or a digital offer. If you’re working with a product that’s trickier to ship (think frozen or perishable items), consider opting for a high value digital offer like a redeemable discount coupon instead. You’ll still be able to target your ideal persona while collecting valuable consumer insights and opt-ins to power your re-marketing efforts. If you’re unsure which avenue to take, our team of sampling experts can help you determine which of these two types of offers can best help drive your brand objectives and increase conversion rates.

Two iPhones side by side with two different offer types.

4. Choose an experience type  

Once your brand objective, audience and offer type are established, it’s time to design your brand experience. If you’re looking to deliver a product experience tailored exclusively to your brand and have 100% share of voice, you’ll likely want to opt for a fully-branded experience. Through this option you’ll deliver a box uniquely branded to your liking holding one or multiple samples from your brand.

If you are an early stage brand running your very first digital product sampling program, or simply looking to make your sampling dollars go a longer way, you can opt for a Sampler exchange program where you are not only sharing a sampling box with 2-3 other brands who are targeting the same consumers, but also splitting and therefore lowering your cost of shipping and fulfillment. Through this option you’ll always be guaranteed category exclusivity, so you won’t have to worry about sharing a box with competing brands and can rest assured that your product has the space to shine.

5. Packaging & shipping

Now that you’ve designed your ultimate digital sampling program, you can leave the behind the scenes up to us. Our team handles the packaging and shipping of your product samples to make sure they make it safely to your targeted consumer. Having shipped millions of product samples in over 24 countries around the world, we’ve become experts in bringing memorable product experiences right to consumers’ doorsteps so you can focus on what you love the most – building your brand.

6. Ongoing program management

Digital sampling campaigns are far from a touch-and-go tactic and the Sampler platform empowers you to continue the conversation with your consumer, long after they’ve tried your product at home. At the end of your digital sampling program, you’ll receive a full campaign deep dive, identifying key insights, marketing strategies and recommendations from our team of sampling experts to make sure you’re getting the most out of it.

They will help you uncover important patterns based on your program results which you can put back into your sales and marketing efforts and even use them to better define your targeted audience. If you generated a high number of email opt-ins during your program and you’re unsure of how to best leverage them, we’ll work together with you to recommend effective re-marketing strategies so you can continue the conversation with consumers all the way to purchase.

7. Customized re-marketing and data integrations

Sampler’s flexible digital product sampling solution empowers you to meaningfully engage with consumers long after they receive their sample. For example, if you begin your digital product sampling journey with a brand differentiation objective, you can later leverage consumer insights for brand loyalty and advocacy. Subsequent marketing initiatives can then be customized and enhanced on an ongoing basis through the data collected in your digital product sampling program through activities like:

  • A follow-up coupon to incentivize first purchase
  • Follow-up survey to capture insights post-trial
  • Ratings & Reviews: Option to syndicate to ecommerce channels
  • Pixel users to re-target on social

With integrations including SAP’s Customer Data Cloud, you can add data collected in your programs seamlessly into your CRM system, in a flexible, standardized, and secure way.

Takeaways

Digital product sampling arms you with the pivotal consumer insights, campaign management tools, customized re-marketing tactics and data integrations you need to build powerful relationships with the right consumer. Sampler’s flexible solution partners with you to move beyond simple trail and awareness to see a return on investment with brand relevance, differentiation, adoption, and all the way to advocacy.

Your brand’s digital sampling program will be the ultimate driving force for long-term success.

Product sampling tips
Re-marketing
In-store sampling

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