Product Sampling: What Is It and How Can It Benefit Your Business?

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Ever been to a grocery store and been handed a free sample of something delicious? With the taste fresh in your mind, and the product within reach, you can easily slip it into your shopping cart. Everyone loves getting something for free, and product sampling is no different.

Want to see how you can surprise and delight your customers by offering free product samples from your online store? We’ll take you through how you can balance cost versus budget to generate awareness of your brand and develop new relationships with customers.

What Is Product Sampling?

Product sampling is a marketing tactic where businesses offer a freebie to tempt potential customers with a lack of confidence in their brand into buying a product.

It’s particularly common with fast-moving consumer goods, such as food or drinks, so that people can taste and experience the product before committing to buy. But sampling products can also be a really effective way of promoting your brand and developing relationships with new customers – by giving them something to remember you by!

tapi carpets free flooring product samples
Tapi Carpets & Floors allows customers to select up to three free product samples, which is great for customers not ready to commit to a whole order yet.

Benefits of Product Sampling

There are plenty of benefits that product sampling can add to your online store. Let’s go through a couple of them here:

Generate Brand Awareness

One of the biggest obstacles in building your online store is getting customers to trust your brand. How do they know it’s for real? And that they even want to buy it? By offering a freebie you’re not only providing an opportunity for people to interact with your brand, you’re showing them that you’re willing to go the extra mile to give them a great experience.

Exposure to your brand doesn’t stop at handing out freebies though – 59% of consumers are likely to tell others about new products they’ve experienced. If people enjoy your product sample, they’re likely to spread the news by word of mouth or via social media, for example.

You can learn more about how to build a brand online in our helpful guide!

Receive Valuable Feedback

In the world of digital marketing, data is king. By constantly monitoring and analyzing data about how people view, use, and understand your product you can create a feedback loop that you can use to drive improvements.

You can also use product sampling to trial new products or variations of existing ones, so you can understand how people might react to them, without too much financial risk. With a lack of time in their daily lives, it’s so easy for people to ignore an online survey, but much more difficult when they’re standing in front of you and you’ve given them something for free!

Take the opportunity to gather as much feedback as you can to improve your products and services.

Types of Product Sampling

Traditional Sampling 

Traditional product sampling works by giving shoppers miniature versions of full-size products when they visit a retail store.

For example, by offering product samples to customers at checkout, setting up a sampling station by the entrance to encourage passersby to drop in, or by offering customers who make orders over a certain amount free samples.

Digital Sampling 

For ecommerce businesses who want to incentivize online shoppers to try new products – digital sampling is a great way of getting sample-sized or even full-sized products in the hands of buyers.

Consider giving free samples as part of a promotion for a limited time, or as part of a campaign for returning customers.

warby parker product sampling example
Warby Parker, an eyewear company, allows potential customers to select up to five different frames to physically try on at home.

Product Sampling Tips

Take a look over the following tips to set up your own product sampling for your online store:

#1. Define Your Target Audience 

This is, broadly speaking, one of the golden rules of digital marketing, and one that you should consider every time you start a new campaign.

Do some research to understand the pain points, needs, habits, and wants of your current customers, and – if relevant – the new audience you’re trying to reach with your product samples.

For example, ask yourself:

  • Where do they spend most of their time?
  • What kind of sample would be most useful to them?
  • Why would they be hesitant about buying your product in a traditional setting?

#2. Set Clear Goals 

Product sampling can be time-consuming and costly – so think about the cost versus budget and make sure you know exactly why you’re creating product samples by setting clear, measurable goals for your campaign.

Figure out who you want to try your product, and how you might be able to get the product samples into their hands.

Often the aim of product sampling for many online stores is to engage people who are too hesitant to pay full price for an item. If that’s the case for your store, try using sample-to-purchase conversion rates to determine whether your campaign is successful.

#3. Utilize Social Media 

Free product samples are intended to surprise and delight – so make sure you encourage recipients to show their appreciation by sharing the news with friends via social media. This is all about raising your brand awareness and building trust with new audiences via a recommendation from a friend.

On the flip side, you could reward users on social media with product samples for sharing your page on their story, for example. Check out our article for other ways you can attract new customers to your online store.

#4. Find the Right Time 

As with any campaign, timing is key. Always make sure you give people sampling products enough time to see, and then to act on your promotion. Leave it too long, and the buyer may lose the incentive to make a purchase and receive a sample.

On the other hand, if you push for a sale too quickly you run the risk of bombarding potential customers with too many marketing messages, before they’ve had a chance to experience the product for themselves.

Take a look at your sales data to see the average time period between someone taking a free sample and buying the full-priced version. For example, if you’re offering a sample size of your essential oils, you might find that people make a full purchase two weeks later when they’ve run out. Therefore, a few days before that two-week trial period is the perfect time to send a reminder email to make a purchase.

#5. Monitor Your Feedback 

Even if your free samples don’t lead to a sale, they could lead to other valuable information, such as feedback on a new product or an existing one. Make sure you ask customers for reviews, and provide a way to gather important feedback from them. Key insights you may want to consider include: why didn’t they make a purchase? What did they think of the product sample?

You could do this a few days after their reminder email, providing they didn’t make a purchase.

Summary

Product sampling is a great way to give people a meaningful interaction with your product, to raise awareness of your brand with audiences you may not have come across before, and to gain valuable feedback about your products and services.

They’re a great opportunity to get something real into the hands of potential customers who might have a lack of confidence in your brand, leaving them with something to remember you fondly.

Too often brands don’t use product samples to promote their brand, whether that’s because of a lack of time, or they cannot balance the cost versus budget of product samples. But if done well, with clearly defined and measurable goals, product samples can be the key to attracting more customers to your online store.

FAQs

Take a look over our tips above to see how best to set up product sampling for your online store. To set up an effective product sampling campaign that leads to sales, you’ll need to:

  • Set clear goals
  • Know which audience you want to target
  • Use social media effectively
  • Nail the timing of your reminder emails

If done effectively and efficiently, a product sampling campaign doesn’t have to cost the earth. Always think about your cost versus budget – is it affordable for your business? And does it meet your overall goals for your online store? For example, if your goal is to attract new customers to your online store and build awareness of your brand, then product sampling can be a really effective way to do this. Ultimately, only you will know what is affordable and financially feasible for your business.

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