6 Tips for Effective Product Sampling Campaigns
By now, most businesses understand that ratings and reviews are a powerful tool to increase traffic, conversion and insights. One effective way to quickly collect more of this powerful content is product sampling.
Product sampling campaigns are a quick and simple way for brands and retailers to increase product review content for both new and existing products. They allow brands and retailers to collect a large amount of review content in a short amount of time and are practical for products of any size — even products as large as luggage and mattresses.
At PowerReviews, we’ve found that brands and retailers using product sampling campaigns see an 85 percent review completion rate, on average, with some clients seeing completion rates as high as 97 percent. Here are six tips that can help brands and retailers get the most from their product sampling campaigns:
1. Know what you’re trying to accomplish.
Maybe you’re looking to generate a high volume of reviews for one particular product, or perhaps you’re hoping to generate reviews across multiple items in your product catalog. Either way, it’s important to understand your end goal in order to run a successful product sampling campaign.
Some brands and retailers opt to send out a low volume of samples for a wide range of products in order to achieve high coverage — i.e., the number of products that have reviews. This is important because, on average, when customers go from displaying zero reviews to at least one review for a given product, they see a 108 percent lift in traffic, a 65 percent lift in conversion and a 92 percent lift in sales.
Some businesses set out to generate a high volume of reviews for one particular product. Our friends at InStyler use this strategy to generate a high volume of content prior to product launches. The resulting reviews give shoppers the confidence to purchase and provide insights to help InStyler identify and fix any product flaws before launch.
2. Know your target audience.
Make sure the people who receive your samples are part of your ideal audience. This will ensure you’re sending to more engaged recipients and, in turn, you’ll see higher review collection rates. Here are a couple ways to do this:
- Send surveys. Always send surveys to your potential sampling recipients with targeted questions about your products. For example, if you’re running a sampling program for a toy train, you might ask if the recipient has any children between the ages of five and 10. And make sure you send new surveys for each campaign. This ensures you’re sending samples to people who are engaged and active, leading to higher collection rates.
- Cultivate your database. It’s beneficial to work with a sampling provider that has a database of customers with many different backgrounds. For each campaign, screen your database with qualifying questions and then only distribute the samples to the respondents who meet your specific criteria. In addition, pull live data points and verify contact information for every campaign.
3. Understand which products lend themselves to the most successful campaigns.
Product sampling campaigns are especially effective for these three types of products:
- Product launches: Shoppers are much less likely to purchase a product that doesn’t have reviews. In fact, a recent PowerReviews study found that 45 percent of shoppers will turn to a search engine if there aren’t reviews (or aren’t enough of them) for a product on a brand or retailer site. Prior to launching new products, execute a sampling campaign to ensure you have plenty of reviews available.
- Seasonal promotions: For products with a short shelf life, such as holiday-themed items, it’s key to generate reviews quickly. A pre-season sampling program will make sure your seasonal product has plenty of reviews available when consumers start actively shopping for it.
- Targeted products: Most likely, there are other products in your catalog that are in need of additional review content. One good example is products that have high traffic but low conversion. Run a sampling campaign for that targeted product to generate reviews. This will give consumers that are coming to your product pages the confidence to make a purchase.
4. Time your sampling campaign right.
A common misconception is that you need to wait for a product to be live on your site before running a sampling campaign. That’s not the case. Instead, run these campaigns before the product is live in order to launch with plenty of reviews.
On average, sampling campaigns last six weeks to eight weeks, and we start seeing reviews generated at the end of the third week. At PowerReviews, we recommend that brands and retailers complete a sampling campaign prior to the product going live. This gives you time to collect all reviews, syndicate them and fix any product issues mentioned in reviews.
5. Send post-purchase emails after consumers receive their samples.
Send emails to recipients once they’ve gotten their samples encouraging them to write a product review. And make it easy for them to write a review — don’t make them log into a portal. Instead, make sure that the collect email you send has a direct link to the Write a Review form.
Consider sending an initial email telling participants the product has been shipped (with a tracking number when available). Also include the Write a Review form in this email. Then, send a series of follow-up emails to maximize collection rates.
6. Badge reviews appropriately.
When it comes to product sampling, transparency is key. In order to preserve trust and transparency, be sure to indicate which reviews were written as a result of the sampling campaign.
Ryann Bird is a client success director at PowerReviews, a platform to increase product ratings and reviews, site traffic, and conversion.
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