Product sampling has been around for decades, and there’s a reason why it continues to play a critical role in a CPG brand’s marketing mix - it works. The COVID-19 pandemic forced marketers to reimagine how to get their products into the hands of their targeted consumers and digital product sampling quickly became an essential part of their marketing toolbox. -
Overnight, traditional marketing strategies like in-store sampling and product testing were considered high-risk interactions and digital product sampling offered CPG brands a safe, contactless, and memorable way of getting their product into the hands of their consumers.
Whether you’re considering it for the very first time or looking for ways to improve your existing campaigns, we’re arming you with 7 actionable tips you can use today to launch your most successful digital product sampling program yet.
Have a clear brand objective
Whether you’re an emerging looking to generate brand awareness, or a top 100 CPG brand working to build your CRM database, one thing holds true: setting clear objectives early on is crucial for success. Setting clear goals from the get-go allows you to strategically design your program and acquire the specific insights you need to achieve those goals. Here are some examples of what your digital sampling program objectives could be:
- Drive product trial and awareness
- Collecting ratings and reviews
- Building your email list
- Finding and testing your target market
- Gathering product feedback for improvement
- Growing retail distribution
- Shopper marketing
Whatever it is, honing in on the purpose of your program and communicating that to your sampling partner is key.
Start with broad targeting, then refine
One of the first things you’ll work on with your digital sampling partner as you set up your program is defining your target audience. With over 700 consumer segments and 19+ data points per consumer at Sampler, the targeting possibilities are huge. You could go as granular as reaching expectant mothers with a particular dietary preference in a select region for example.
With this in mind, one of the biggest tips we give brands as they set up their program is to consider starting with broader targeting and narrowing down to a more high value audience based on their consumer survey results. This helps you identify the key sub segments that may be far more interested in your product and therefore more likely to purchase.
For example, if you initially start your program targeting consumers with a variety of different skin concerns, you may find out from your survey results that consumers who are experiencing fine lines have a much higher intent to purchase your product than the rest of the audience. Knowing this, you can work together with your Sampler rep for recommendations on how to continue targeting that specific segment and bring them closer to the next purchase.
Boost fulfillment efficiencies
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, there are a few things you can do to boost efficiencies and lower costs. One way is to opt for an exchange program where you are not only sharing a sampling box with other brands who are targeting the same consumers but also splitting the cost of shipping and fulfillment.
An essential part of a sampling program is allowing your product to shine and stand out amongst your competition so choosing a partner that guarantees category exclusivity is key in achieving that. The great news with an option like the Sampler Exchange is that while you’re able to minimize costs, you are always guaranteed exclusivity so you won’t have to worry about sharing a box with competing brands.
Bonus tip: Take full advantage of this share of voice by adding an insert along with your sample showcasing your unique brand story and leave a lasting impression on your targeted consumer.
Study the insights
One of the prime benefits of going digital when it comes to product sampling is the wealth of valuable data you collect during your program. For any brand, acquiring insights on demographics, lifestyle habits, preferences, and purchase intent of customers is pivotal.
Discovering things like why your consumers choose your brand over others or which of your products they enjoy best can help you detect important patterns and make every sampling dollar count. You’ll start to uncover answers to important questions like:
- Who your consumers are (age, demographics, lifestyle, dietary preferences, shopping habits)
- Why they choose your brand over others
- What retail stores they shop at most often
- How likely they are to recommend your product
- What their purchase intent is
All of these insights can be put back into your sales and marketing efforts and even help redefine your targeted audience. If growing retail distribution is important to you for example, you can look at retailer specific data (i.e. consumers shop most often) and use that information to support conversations with retailers and prove the demand for your product.
Plan effective remarketing strategies
With traditional in-store product sampling, brands lose touch with consumers the minute they walk away with a sample. Digital product sampling on the other hand, transforms this touch-and-go interaction into a long lasting relationship. Planning how you continue the conversation with your consumers all the way to purchase is perhaps the single most important aspect of a successful digital product sampling program.
Consider this: offering a high-value incentive like a product sample will typically drive a 5-10X increase conversion to CRM. This not only helps you target more specific demographics in the future, but also helps you plan more effective remarketing strategies. By understanding more about your consumers’ demographics, psychographics, behaviours, and lifestyle, you can personalize the communication and improve your overall consumer experience as they move along the funnel.
These valuable tidbits of information arm you with the insights you need to personalize your content, build targeted email campaigns, and effectively guide consumers through every step of the shopping journey.
Leverage your ratings and reviews
Word of mouth has and continues to be a powerful driver in consumer spending - even more so in the digital era of growing eCommerce business. When shopping for any type of item, consumers often turn to online reviews to help them make their decision.
For many brands, it can take a significant amount of time and effort to generate a sufficient amount of reviews. Digital product sampling is not only a great way to engage consumers in a memorable way, but also an effective way to build and sustain a steady flow of consumer feedback.
In fact, we know that 1 in 4 consumers who get a free sample leave a review of the product. By adding a sampling CTA to your current marketing channels like your digital ads or influencer marketing campaigns you’ll populate ratings and reviews quickly for both new and established products.
The key here is to put all of this valuable feedback to good use. With Sampler, you can easily syndicate all of the ratings and reviews you collect during your program to your website helping you build trust and credibility at the point of purchase.
Foster loyalty with User Generated Content
There are very few tactics more powerful at encouraging User Generated Content than actually getting your product into consumers’ hands. Delivering a deeply personalized experience to a consumer in the comfort of their own home not only captures their undivided attention, but immediately offers a reward that inspires them to share their experience.
One scan of the #SamplerLove hashtag on social media is enough to recognize the influence an at-home sampling experience has on consumers. By simply optimizing your channels and powering consumers to try your product, easily share feedback, and document their experience, you’re creating a direct line of communication with them to foster brand advocacy and ultimately drive them down the funnel to purchase.
Displaying a curated gallery of UGC on your brand pages allows your potential shoppers to witness people just like them using your product in real life. This further humanizes your brand and allows consumers to relate to your products on a much more personal level.
CPG brands worldwide have had to readjust to the sudden suspension of one of their most trusted marketing tactics. What was once perhaps a nice channel spread of in-store sampling, experiential activations and digital marketing have now been dwindled down to at-home delivery and digital marketing. Digital product sampling however, is not only offering brands a safe avenue to reach consumers at home, but enabling them to collect indispensable insights that power lasting consumer relationships. By implementing these 7 actionable tips, you can ensure your next digital sampling program is built for ultimate success.