Best Practices for Product Sampling
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% review completion rate, on average, with some clients seeing completion rates as high as 97%. Read on to learn six tips that can help you get the most from your product sampling campaign.
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 — the number of products that have reviews. This is important because on average, when PowerReviews customers go from displaying 0 reviews to at least 1 review for a given product, they see a 108% lift in traffic, a 65% lift in conversion and a 92% lift in sales.
Some businesses set out to generate a high volume of reviews for one particular product. This strategy can be used to generate a high volume of content prior to product launches. The resulting reviews give customers the confidence to convert and provide insights to help brands and retailers identify and fix any product flaws before the 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:
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 your 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 example, the PowerReviews sampling database has been cultivated over the last 10 years to ensure that all potential demographics can be targeted by our customers. As a result, PowerReviews can target specific client personas for different campaigns. For each campaign, we screen our database with qualifying questions and then only distribute the samples to the respondents who meet our client’s specific criteria. We also pull live data points and verify contact information for every campaign.
3. Understand which products lend themselves to the most successful campaigns
At PowerReviews, we’ve found that product sampling campaigns are especially effective for these three types of products:
Shoppers are much less likely to purchase a product that doesn’t have reviews. In fact, a recent PowerReviews study found that 45% of shoppers will turn to a search engine if there aren’t reviews (or aren’t enough reviews) 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.
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.
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 — and in turn, give customers that are coming to your product pages the confidence to convert.
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– but 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 6-8 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 being live on your site or on a retailer’s site. 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 Collect Emails to the recipients once they’ve gotten their samples, encouraging them to write a review for your product. And make it easy for them to write a review — don’t make them log into a portal to write content about your products. Instead, make sure that the collect email you send has a direct link to the write a review form.
With PowerReviews, we send an initial email telling the participants the product has been shipped (with a tracking number when available). We also include the write a review form in this email. Then, we send a series of follow-up emails to maximize collection rates.
PowerReviews clients can customize when post purchase emails are sent. For example, a toy retailer might want to collect reviews within the first week after sending a children’s toy, but a mattress company would want to wait a couple months to give the recipient time to experience the new mattress.
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.
Product Sampling Experts
To see what a company that’s running successful product sampling campaigns looks like, see what’s new with our friends at Vornado. The company’s first sampling campaign resulted in an 83% completion rate, and their most recent sampling campaign had a 97% completion rate. Plus, the reviews collected from sampling campaigns are 44% longer than those collected organically. This is important since recent PowerReviews research found that the longer a review, the more likely it is to garner helpful votes.
Ready to start collecting more reviews with product sampling? Get in touch with PowerReviews to learn more!