Digital sampling

6 digital sampling strategies to boost your 2023 holiday sales.

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Emma Hardy
Thursday, September 28, 2023

Holiday season is just around the corner. The days are shorter, the mornings colder and consumer spending is at its peak. But with increased demand comes increased competition. So how can brands stand out among the crowd and capture the interest of their target audience? 

Now is the perfect time for a holiday sampling campaign. Consumers have ample time to enjoy your products, and you can collate those crucial insights before unleashing your irresistible holiday promotions.

We’re sharing six cutting-edge sampling techniques to thrust your product into the spotlight and boost your 2023 holiday sales.


Why run a holiday sampling campaign?

6 holiday sampling strategies for 2023

Why run a holiday sampling campaign?

Before we get into the how, let’s explore why digital sampling is the rocketfuel you need to boost your sales and marketing goals this holiday season.

Increase brand awareness

What better way to stand out in a sea of holiday ads than by offering a free sample? 

Not only will this help you cut through the noise and nudge those who may not have bought from you in a while, but it will etch you into the minds of consumers when they're ready to buy.

We helped Tanqueray boost awareness of their gin and drive sales during the holidays.

Just two weeks after sampling, 89% of consumers had already purchased or were likely to buy the full-size bottle, and 81% had recommended the gin to a friend.

Grow your marketing database 

You'll find consumers are eager to hand over their details in return for an exciting free sample. In fact, we see average marketing opt-in rates of 70% across our sampling campaigns at SoPost.

By encouraging consumers to opt in for more, you're expanding your database and creating a pool of potential customers ready to participate in your holiday promotions.

Generate reviews and user-generated content

Where do shoppers turn when hunting for the perfect gifts? Reviews! Surveys show that almost 100% of people read reviews before buying a product. 

Gifting samples in exchange for product feedback yields authentic endorsements that instill trust, guide purchasing choices and propel your brand to the top of shoppers' wish lists. 

We partnered with Hellmann's to reach new, non-vegan consumers and grow reviews of their new vegan mayonnaise as part of their "Veganuary" campaign. 

After sampling, 97% of consumers recommended the product to a friend, and 84% gave the mayonnaise a five-star rating.

Consumer review of Hellmann’s Vegan Mayo sample

5 Star Review

“Didn’t have great expectations to start with (being honest), however my expectations were exceeded, exploded, annihilated and sent to another galaxy, far, far, ever so far away…I will never buy another mayonnaise again…”

Capture consumer data and insights

Uncover a goldmine of consumer and market insights through sampling, to refine your marketing strategies in preparation for the busiest shopping period of the year. 

Take Clinique, as an example. We helped them gather key audience insights to power their new foundation launch, and discovered their audience's biggest priority was hydration. We also collected intel on what their usual go-to foundation was.

This helped Clinique sharpen their messaging to address consumers’ most important benefits and gauge a better understanding of their competitor landscape.  

holiday sampling

6 holiday sampling strategies for 2023

1. Product bundles

Offer consumers the ultimate sampling experience with exciting product bundles. It's a win-win situation: consumers get a taste of a high-value sample and you can showcase multiple products ahead of the holiday season.

Plus, thanks to the high-value nature of bundles, you’ll find consumers are more than happy to pay a small fee to cover shipping costs. 

That's right - bundle campaigns allow you to give away larger, high-value samples while keeping your campaign's fulfillment costs down.

One recent SoPost campaign for a popular haircare brand offered a bundle of three full-sized product samples and resulted in:

  • 100,000 bundles claimed in just six weeks
  • The campaign going viral on TikTok, with hundreds of videos and influencers sharing the brand and products
  • 77% of consumers saying they'd switch to the brand as their new go-to
  • 69% saying they're likely to buy the products in the next six months

2. Virtual try-on

Let's say you're launching a new foundation or lipstick for the holidays. Sampling is the perfect opportunity to amplify awareness and get your product into the hands of your target audience. 

And naturally, you'll want consumers to find their perfect match easily.

Incorporating virtual try-on technology lets consumers find and sample their ideal shade without leaving their screens to go into busy stores. Encourage engagement and create a personalized, seamless sampling experience, all while significantly reducing product waste.

At SoPost, we typically see a 27% boost in shade-matching accuracy and a 57% increase in post-trial purchases compared to campaigns using traditional shade selectors.

So, if you’re looking to boost sales of your beauty products this year, combine sampling with virtual try-on technology for a match made in beauty heaven. 

digital sampling ideas

3. Get-one, gift-one campaigns 

92% of people are said to trust friend and family recommendations over brand messaging when it comes to buying decisions. 

And get-one, gift-one sampling campaigns are super effective at sparking word-of-mouth magic, especially when everyone is already in the spirit of giving!

How do they work? The consumer completes their request to claim a sample, then they’re prompted to gift a sample to a loved one with a heartfelt message via email, text or even WhatsApp.   

At SoPost, we’ve witnessed 100% marketing opt-in rates across some of our get-one, gift-one campaigns due to the incredible excitement and engagement they generate. 

4. Sweepstakes and giveaways

Sweepstakes and competitions give consumers the chance to win a product sample, while generating buzz around your brand and growing your marketing database ahead of the holiday season.

And since you're handpicking only a select few as winners, these campaigns also keep your sample fulfillment costs in check.

Utilize influencers and social media to promote your giveaway, and once it’s closed, target your new, engaged leads with tempting holiday promotions.  

This is an incredibly popular tactic for our clients here at SoPost, to help them amplify awareness and grow their database just in time for prime shopping seasons.

For example, we launched a competition for a popular cleaning brand to give away bundles of their new spring collection. It attracted over 56,000 entries in just two weeks, with an incredible 74% signing up to the brand’s marketing database.

5. Email marketing campaigns

Over 50% of shoppers buy from marketing emails at least once a month. For loyal customers, offering a sample keeps your brand front of mind throughout the holiday rush and helps you stand out in a flooded inbox of holiday promotions and messages. 

It's also a great tactic to rekindle relationships with those who may not have purchased from you in a while. 

But why stop at your existing customer base this holiday season? Tap into third-party audiences by sampling through other retailer, publisher and community databases. 

These databases are full of high-intent, engaged consumers waiting to participate in your holiday promotions. At SoPost, we typically see an average of 1 paying customer for every 7 samples through our targeted email marketing campaigns.

Our community sampling campaigns alone also generate average review and feedback rates of 36% – that’s way above the industry benchmark.

6. Create omnichannel retail experiences

According to forecasts by eMarketer, overall retail spending is set to increase by 4.5% to $1.3 trillion for the 2023 holiday season.

Harness an omnichannel sampling strategy to bridge the online-offline gap and engage consumers at every touchpoint during the busiest retail period of the year. Here’s some inspiration:

  • Integrate sampling ads across popular retail websites
  • Targeted social media posts from popular retailer social accounts
  • Influencer video claiming a sample in-store
  • Email marketing campaigns to relevant, high-intent shoppers
  • In-store QR codes linking to your online sampling campaign

At SoPost, we join forces with leading retailers to tap into relevant, high-intent audiences as they browse online and have helped brands like philosophy generate an incredible 3.2x return on investment through our retail partnerships.

Launch your 2023 holiday sampling campaign

Holiday sampling can be extremely powerful when executed strategically and with the right experts behind it. 

As you gear up for the holidays, think about your overall objectives this year, what’s going to resonate with your audience and where digital sampling fits in.

At SoPost, we’ve mastered the art of strategic digital sampling over the past decade, helping the world’s biggest brands accelerate their sales and marketing goals through our innovative sampling technology and expert guidance. 

Want to see how you can leverage SoPost in your holiday sampling strategy for 2023? Let’s chat!


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