[tweetmeme]Free samples have always been an important and highly effective marketing strategy. They can provide quick consumer awareness for a new brand and make it easier to target a new consumer demographic. They can also help spur repeat purchases of the product that consumers wouldn’t have otherwise bought as free samples make it easy for them to try out the product. Free samples also play an important role in creating brand loyalty and inertia.
Yogi Products, the makers of Yogi Tea and Yogi Cereals, understands the power of free samples and has made it an important element of their online strategy. At the bottom of their website http://www.yogiproducts.com/, users can click on the Well Wishes Tree to “Share the benefits of Yogi tea by sending a Well-Wish to a friend.”
Clicking on the Well-Wishes Tree allows the visitor to send a complimentary pair of Yogi Teas to a friend. The referring friend can also send alongside a personalized message that they can select from a drop down menu or craft their own (e.g. “Hope you get your groove back” or “Thought you could get a boost”). Senders can choose a combo pack they want to send to their friends, and they can opt to put their greetings up publicly on the “tree”.
The free sample offer provides a number of benefits to Yogi Tea:
- It’s a viral marketing tool. While samples are limited to one per U.S. household, well-wishers can send them to as many friends as they like.
- It is a lead generation tool. Yogi Tea collects the names and email addresses of both the sender and the recipient. In the case of the recipient, they also get the physical address and tea preference. The company is getting high quality leads that can be leveraged using other campaigns to increase sales.
- The referrals create an immediate level of trust. The program is a direct referral of Yogi Tea products from one friend to another. The question that is often first and foremost in a prospect’s mind is “How do I know I can trust this person and this company.” A referral from a friend – a trusted source — helps remove that question from the equation. As a result, referrals tend to listen more closely to the message and buy at a higher rate compared to other lead sources.
- Free samples help increase awareness of the product. The viral nature of the Well Wishes Campaign help raise awareness of the brand among its relatively upscale and well-educated sustainable living population segment.
Yogi’s campaign seems to be working. In an interview with Retail Online Integration magazine (Sept. 2010 issue), Yogi’s Brand Director Melanie Haliburton said that about 36,000 well-wishes have been sent from January to June 2010. Their Facebook fans http://www.facebook.com/yogiproducts have also increased from a few hundred to more than 12,800.
Yogi’s Well Wishes Tree campaign offers a number of valuable lessons to small businesses on how to run a free sample campaign online, such as:
- If you are selling products on the Web, consider running a free sample campaign. Like other marketing campaigns, however, track the ROIs carefully.
- Place the notice about your campaign in all pages of your site. In Yogi Product’s case, they used their website footer.
- Think of an eye catching creative to entice users to click.
- Collect leads and pertinent information about users.
- Tie up your free sample leads capture with your email marketing promotions.