We’re all familiar with in-store food and beverage samples. Sample programs are popular within the food and beverage sector because they are extremely effective. For instance, when Costco offers samples of their pizza, sales increase by 600%.
People change their behavior patterns when the word “free” is mentioned. Receiving a free sample evokes an emotional trigger similar to receiving a reward. This emotion can positively influence their perception of the business that provided the sample.
The good news is you don’t have to be a grocery store or in the consumer packaged goods industry to reap the benefits of free sample marketing. Businesses that offer product samples via their website or ad generate up to seven times more conversions.
The concept of a sample program can even be used for service-based businesses, too–but with a twist.
How? You just need to offer something tangible. Service-based businesses, such as those in the financial sector, can give prospective customers a sample of the top-tier customer service that they will receive in the form of tangible content.
For example, a bank can offer an informative, high-value financial planning kit that includes flyers, brochures, a wall calendar and a financial planning guide to showcase their service offerings. Since the items are tangible, they don’t get buried in the inbox and the brand remains top of mind every time the prospective customer glances at their wall calendar.
Promotional items can also boost conversions just as effectively as a product sample. A survey found that 52% of consumers did business with an advertiser after receiving a promotional product.
>>>Related Resource: Read our guide to promotional products for prospects, customers and employees.
In addition to boosting conversion rates and increasing sales, let’s look at the other benefits of sample order marketing.
Benefits of a Sample Program
1. Make a great first impression.
A sample of your product (or, for service-based businesses, a sample of the experience customers can expect with your brand) is likely the first hands-on experience potential customers will have with your brand.
This critical first impression can create a long-lasting connection that keeps your brand top of mind and sets your business apart from the crowd.
Make this critical first impression count by ensuring that your sample program includes:
- A streamlined, efficient and fast process in place for sample order fulfillment.
- Inventory management controls to guarantee that ready-to-ship samples are always in stock.
- Professional assembly and packaging that showcases the top-tier product quality and customer service your brand is known for.
>>>Related Resource: Learn why building manufacturers use product samples to boost leads.
2. Influence purchase decisions.
That first impression often influences future purchases.
Digital tactics such as social media, email and influencer marketing are all effective in their own ways, but nothing keeps your business top of mind like a tangible piece of your brand.
Emails get buried in inboxes, social feeds are inundated and banner ads aren’t seen half of the time since nearly half of all internet users report using ad blockers.
A tangible piece can serve as an extension of your brand to help you stand out in crowded markets and keep you on your customer’s radar.
>>>Related Resource: Find out how you can stand out in crowded regional markets.
3. Collect customer data.
Even though today’s consumers are hesitant to share their personal information, sample order programs provide consumers with something of value in return for their information. A sample order program allows businesses to mitigate consumers’ hesitancy to share their information and collect important customer data.
The more information you collect about potential customers, the more you can tailor their customer journey and create a one-to-one connection that converts leads into customers.
>>>Related Resource: Discover how the home service industry leverages data to boost conversions.
Now, let’s talk more about data and the importance of personalizing the customer journey.
How Data Personalizes the Customer Journey
Product samples allow your business to collect one of the most important parts of your marketing strategy: customer data.
The customer data collected from a sample program is filled with valuable insights that allow businesses to tailor the customer journey, and the power of personalization cannot be emphasized enough.It creates a one-to-one connection that humanizes your brand.
Modern printing technology like variable data printing (VDP) allows businesses to personalize each individual mail piece with a variety of variables, including:
- Names and location.
- Taglines and special offers.
- Images and logos.
This gives marketers the ability to create irresistible offers tailored specifically to the needs and preferences of the individual.
Unfortunately, businesses often miss out on a golden opportunity by only requiring prospects to provide geographic data, such as their address, when requesting a free sample.
Make sure you’re collecting as much data as possible, including:
- Demographic Data: Gender, age, ethnicity, income, occupation, education level and home type.
- Behavioral Data: Buying patterns, habits and preferences.
- Psychographic Data: Interests, lifestyles, activities and values.
>>>Related Resource: See how variable data printing allows businesses to personalize every printed piece.
Here are some other tips to ensure a successful sample order program.
Tips for a Successful Sample Order Program
A successful sample order program is so much more than just getting the shipment out the door. Seamless orchestration of managing, printing, storing, assembling, packaging and shipping is required.
However, sample order fulfillment can easily drain bandwidth and resources when handled in-house. One weak link in your marketing supply chain can cause delays, incorrect orders or out-of-stock items that leave a poor first impression of your business and may cause prospective customers to look elsewhere.
Since 1993, Jet Mail has worked with businesses to create custom sample order fulfillment solutions that convert prospects into customers. Jet Mail can streamline the entire process, thanks to our in-house marketing fulfillment services, such as:
- High-speed digital and on-demand printing.
- Commercial mail and on-site USPS facility.
- Full-service fulfillment center for storage, assembly, pick and pack and distribution.
- Same-day order processing from our 80,000 square foot on-site warehouse.
- Domestic and international shipping solutions.
Our experienced team of marketing fulfillment experts will work with you to ensure every sample order that we ship leaves a lasting impression. Contact us today to learn more.