The 7 dos and don’ts of Digital Product Sampling

Digital product sampling uses digital marketing tools to serve consumers with a sample product or full free product (e.g., an online sample request, digital coupons, mobile cashbacks, digital vouchers) that can be redeemed at a pre-determined point of sale. In the previous article, we explored the main difference between traditional sampling and digital product sampling. Traditional sampling goes to a point of sale and waits for the consumer while digital product sampling goes to the consumer and drives them to the point of sale. 

To further recap, digital product sampling is important and has a bright future because of its ability to link the consumer journey all the way from touchpoint to point of sale. This allows brands to acquire the right & true consumer (due to digital product sampling requiring a consumer to act, it guarantees the consumer is at the very least interested), zone in on the specific target groups, and reach a critical level for a new product launch. To add to this, it can provide insights on the real Sales Impact & ROI in real-time.

To achieve impact and ROI however, is a trial-and-error process. Making digital product sampling effective is more difficult than it seems. There is a formula to impact as without the right approach, it will be easier to do it wrong and get no results than it is to get it right. The formula sets a series of parameters and if they are done right in consecutive order, impact can be achieved. 

The Impact Formula

Impact = CTA (call to action) x creative x discount x touchpoints x media buying x  journey x mechanic 

1 x 1 x 0 x 1 x 1 x 0 = 0 impact 

1 x 1 x 1 x 1 x 1 x 0 = 0 impact 

1 x 1 x 1 x 1 x 1 x 1 =  impact 

Like a mathematical equation, you must get all the elements right to generate impact. 1 mismatch on the formula can result in very low impact. 

AB testing is further recommended to ensure that the right data-driven decisions are being made. Be prepared to test small, learn fast, & scale what works.

So how can you ensure that you get the impact formula right? Here are 7 dos and don’ts that’ll help you achieve impact when doing digital product sampling:

1. Optimize your call-to-action:

DO: Be directive and clear to the action you want the consumer to take (i.e., CLICK HERE to claim a free sample today!).

DON’T: be lofty or vague. Don’t focus on your brand messages or unique service proposition. It can be included, but it mustn’t be the main message you want the consumer to see on such a promo.

2. Optimize Creative:

DO: Shout! Use loud colors, grab attention, stop the consumer in their tracks, force their eyes to move towards your message by using color codes that let them know this is a special deal.

DON’T: Whisper, prioritize pretty branding over strong message focused branding, try to ‘blend in’ the CTA.

3. Optimize value perception:

DO: Be GENEROUS with your discounts, focus on giving away free product. For low value items, give away more than 1 product. These actions create a high value perception for your product. Focus on building customer lifetime value. Higher initial promotions will increase impact tremendously. 

DON’T: be cagey with free product or go for low perceived value discounts. People won’t put in the effort for low value discounts (remember, you want people to sample the product so make it easy for that to happen).

4. Optimize media/ marketing touchpoints:

DO:  Choose touchpoints with high attention-grabbing power such as influencers, social media ads, brand website. The closer the touchpoint is to the sell, the better the performance. 

DON’T: Use touchpoints with low stopping power such as outdoor advertising or bannering.

5. Optimize media buying:

DO: buy media on conversion KPI (This is possible with clicks; however, you can add conversion metrics further down the funnel). 

DON’T: Buy reach or media with awareness KPIs (However, if you choose to, make sure the CTA is extremely clear and the focus of the communication- repeat CTA more than once, if possible, in the messaging).

6. Optimize consumer journey:

DO: Make it short & sweet- the faster the better. Plug into pre-existing habits like instant messaging.

DON’T: Make it complex. 

  1. Try to change the consumer’s regular behaviour (e.g., download this app to claim your voucher- remember phone real- estate has become expensive). 
  2. Put too many steps in the journey.

7. Optimize promotion mechanic

DO: Be flexible and adapt to the medium. Have different approaches for different touchpoints. A QR code can work well with in store promos, a link on an influencer social media bio, or an SMS Short code for a radio shout out. 

DON’T: Be rigid and take a 1 size fits all approach.

If you apply the impact formula to your digital product sampling approach, you will be well on your way to ROI your brand can be proud of.

At Hashting, we have created a direct to consumer at scale marketing technology platform. Our work in over 30 countries through hundreds of campaigns has helped us develop unique expertise on what works and what doesn’t. Our next article will focus on a real-world case study that brings the power of digital sampling to life. For any enquiries on how to improve your digital product sampling, contact us at. 

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