Consumers love samples—especially when it comes to beauty. Having the opportunity to try before buying frequently prompts a transaction.
But it isn’t a process without friction. Sometimes trial campaigns are wasted on consumers who aren’t a fit—an acne product for a baby boomer; a flowery scent sample in a magazine won’t appeal to a reader who prefers citrus notes. Social media is on the rise, but that comes with challenges, too, especially with regard to sampling to the right consumer and measuring return on investment. And then there’s the fact that the channels traditionally used to disseminate samples are changing. The bottom line: the methods marketers relied on to reach consumers are no longer the best options.
Anecdotally, brands and retailers believe samples prompt purchase, but tools to prove it are scant. Once samples are sent, there are few avenues for follow-up to build relationships. Sampling is often a “moment in time,” rather than a chance to build lasting loyalty.
One company was built to change the landscape.
SoPost: Puts Results Behind Sampling Efforts
Not satisfied with the status quo, Jonathan Grubin decided to disrupt the sampling industry. In 2012, he founded SoPost to develop targeted social campaigns that can be supported with data and analytics. In just seven years, SoPost has grown quickly into one of the largest digital sampling platforms in the industry with more than 200 brands, including beauty powerhouses L’Oréal, Estée Lauder and Philosophy on its roster. The health and beauty categories represent about 80% of SoPost’s business, and the U.S. has grown into SoPost’s largest market.
“What we found is that when brands are able to get samples into the right hands, sampling can be incredibly effective,” says Jonathan. “Beauty in particular is a category where people like to try before they buy—especially in fragrances, where you can be shown an ad for a $100 fragrance, but you are unlikely to purchase without trying it.”
Frustrated by seeing samples go unused and in the wrong hands, Jonathan built a better way. SoPost’s targeted approach lowers the barriers to sampling and limits waste. “One of the big reasons brands choose to work with us is because we can ensure samples go to the right consumers. SoPost’s secret weapon, ProcessPlus, is an artificial intelligence filter that can sift through sample requests based on a brand’s goal. SoPost research reveals that when the right consumers get the right product, intent to purchase soars to 78%.
SoPost’s infrastructure ensures products get to the right consumer through the ideal channel. That’s accomplished in a few ways:
- Social Media Ads (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, etc.): Users interact with the brand on social and see an ad for a product. Users who are interested in the product can click for a sample, and request one within the ad unit itself.
- Influencers: A follower sees that an influencer is trying out a product. By swiping up on their Instagram story, consumers can opt in for a trial product.
- PopSugar: SoPost powers PopSugar’s program called Dabble, which allows brands to sample directly with PopSugar’s audiences. When a brand comes to SoPost with a target audience, which could even be based on skin type, hair concerns or fragrance preferences, the company can sample directly to consumers with those concerns.
SoPost has garnered an impressive track record with numerous case studies. Philosophy, for instance, was able to strike 3.2 times the ROI from purchases tracked through online retailer Feelunique, with a campaign executed in tandem with SoPost. The brand wanted to reach new consumers with a social sampling campaign supported with post-trial purchase feedback. Consumers were given the opportunity to receive Philosophy’s Purity Made Simple Cleanser via a Facebook Lead Ad and a widget placed on feelunique.com. The numbers are eye opening: 23,725 consumers received a sample, 69% percent said they were likely to buy it in the next six months; almost 90% said they’d recommend the Purity Made Simple Cleanser to a friend. Building upon that, 12,727 agreed to receive further marketing from Philosophy and 1,774 consumers left a review that syndicated to retailers.
Questions & Answers with Jonathan Grubin, Founder of SoPost
CEW: SoPost has accomplished so much in just seven years by targeting the right consumers for samples. What’s next?
Jonathan Grubin: There’s so much misinformation in the market, so we’re really on a mission to change that.
Over the past six years, we’ve been building ProcessPlus, a newly-launched feature using artificial intelligence to help identify those who are looking for a particular product, not just a free item. It can filter out consumers who might have requested a sample, but who we know have very little interest in actually purchasing the product. Our simulations show that ProcessPlus is, in some cases, making campaigns run 50% more efficiently. That’s huge when you think about the impact on ROI and the savings brands can make in their marketing budgets.
I’m also really excited about Campaign Manager, our real-time interface that provides partners with data-driven insights that can drill down into gender, ages and geographic, and even benchmark your products against the competition.
CEW: Social platforms change rapidly. How can you keep up?
J.G.: The way consumers use the internet is constantly changing. We’ve built our platform to provide sampling for whichever channels are popular. Facebook and Instagram are key now, but that may not be the case in 10 years’ time. We can pretty much live anywhere and we’ll be ready for whatever comes along. We’re launching a number of new innovations soon that will enable sampling experiences even more advanced than what brands can achieve today.
CEW: What is your ultimate goal for SoPost?
J.G.: We’re the only company in our space that has solid foundations in technology. This means that we can deliver much better scalability and more efficient results, and our pace of innovation is so much faster than anyone else.
For more information, visit sopost.com or contact: Jonathan Grubin, email@example.com.