Definitive Guide to Product Sampling Campaigns
The way consumers shop is rapidly becoming more digital, but physical product samples are still a key part of success for many brands.
In this article:
- What is product sampling?
- Why sampling is important for brands
- Sampling on physical and digital channels
- Types of sampling campaigns
- Measuring the success of digital sampling
What is product sampling?
Product sampling is simply allowing consumers to try your product before committing to a full purchase.
Sampling can be done in different ways, by offering free samples or by allowing customers to purchase a smaller ‘tester’ size of a product at a reduced price. Sample products may be a standalone offering, or included with other purchases.
Product sampling is effective if your product is divisible, and where consumers can decide preferences based on a small number of uses. Traditionally it has been used for beauty and cosmetics and food & beverages.
Although the principle of sampling remains the same over time, technology has evolved to make it easier than ever for brands and agencies to launch campaigns.
Why product sampling is important for brands
The benefits of product sampling are comprehensive.
Firstly, it encourages consumers to try something new by taking away the financial risk of spending money on a product and not liking it. Customers cannot know they enjoy a product until they experience it for themselves.
Receiving a product sample creates an important physical touch-point between a customer and a product, which is an important step in building the brand-consumer relationships that grow loyalty.
Product sampling also plays into the ‘reciprocity instinct’: the human urge to reward someone who does something positive for us. This means they are compelled to ‘reward’ this action by buying the product from your brand.
Product sampling therefore helps businesses drive sales and build brand awareness and loyalty. But when campaigns are conducted digitally, they also offer in-depth insight into consumer behaviours and preferences.
Monitoring consumer interactions and collecting sample feedback helps brands better understand the tastes and needs of different demographics and shows them which aspects of a product and its marketing are successful, and which are not. This insight is invaluable in guiding new product development, designing packaging, shaping marketing strategies and guiding the growth of a business overall.
The data from online sampling campaigns can also be used to hyper-target marketing and personalise consumer interactions to build more meaningful customer relationships.
Sampling campaigns on digital and physical channels
When it comes to product sampling campaigns, they can be conducted digitally or physically.
Physical product sampling has been used for many years, and can still be seen frequently in supermarkets, events like festivals, and high traffic areas such train stations. But this method does have some limitations:
- Lack of targeting - samples are distributed to whoever happens to show up to the locations at the time of your activation
- Footfall issues - many external factors could affect how many samples are distributed eg, weather conditions.
- Measuring success - it is very difficult to measure the return on investment from physical sampling campaigns.
Post-COVID retail is an increasingly digital landscape and the same is true in the world of sampling.
With the right tools, it's possible to create striking digital sampling campaigns in a few clicks and launch them across a variety of online channels. Customers can claim their product sample which is then delivered straight to their home.
Types of digital sampling campaigns
Product sampling campaigns can be launched in several different ways, and brands can run activations on many of the channels they already use in their marketing strategy.
Paid media ads
Paid media ads identify, target, reach and remarket to audiences with ease.
high-trafficIt also helps brands collect rich demographic and analytics data to understand customers better and shape their future business strategies.
Lead forms - often shown to consumers via a paid media ad - are completed directly within an ad placement, reducing friction and complexity for the customer. They’re a perfect way to facilitate sample claims without redirecting consumers to a separate landing page.
Another way to launch a sampling campaign is through a publisher partnership. Publisher campaigns are especially effective for brands with a narrow customer demographic profile, as they can work with publishers to find the best campaign placements to reach consumers.
Collaborating with influencers makes them ambassadors for a product, enabling businesses to grow their CRM as well as target particular audiences for greater acquisition.
Offering samples to segments of existing customers is a great way to build on an existing relationship, to share new products with loyal customers, or to re-engage customers that may haven’t purchased in a while.
Diagnostic tools and profiling experiences
Diagnostic sample campaigns ask consumers questions about themselves and their preferences. This provides a more interactive experience for the customer, building a stronger brand relationship.
Brands can use profiling experience in their campaigns: such as including shade finding tools to help consumers find a perfect colour match.
This form of zero-party data is invaluable for brands, especially as data protection and online cookie regulations get ever more complex.
Measuring the success of a digital sampling campaign
As with all types of campaigns, measuring the success of marketing activity should start before the campaign is even live. Setting clear KPIs that are aligned with the strategic objective of the campaign is crucial to understanding campaign performance.
Some examples of metrics used for measuring sampling campaign success:
- Distribution rate - helps you understand how effective your campaign activation was at reaching your target customers.
- Lead generated - a measure of how well your campaign engaged your desired audience
- New customer rate - important for campaigns where customer acquisition is the objective
- Ad engagement metrics - useful to compare against benchmarks to gauge the quality of your ads
- Purchases made - often counted after a 30 day period
- Reviews generated
Choosing the most relevant metrics for your campaign is just the first step. This data is often spread across disparate systems and third parties, eg. publishers, social platforms etc. This can lead to issues with data discrepancies. Agreeing at the campaign outset how each metric should be measured can help with this, and finding a way to centralise your data will give you a single view of your results.
Is sampling right for you?
If you’ve never run digital sampling campaigns before, or you’re looking for ways to make your campaigns more targeted and effective, book a demo with the Odore team today.