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Julia Manoukian


November 8, 2017

Beyond Vanity Metrics: How to Measure And Grow ROI from Sampling Events

Julia Manoukian

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Samples, giveaways, promo items -- everyone loves a freebie. Brands who optimize sampling experiences at trade shows, conventions and live events often generate more customers and sales. Eighty-one percent of consumers say free samples motivate them to participate in an event or experience, while 78 percent are more likely to purchase a product if they had the opportunity to try it first.

Watch our latest webinar, "Event & Experiential Trends in 2018: What Consumer  Experts Are Saying," and learn what major brands are doing to drive engagement  and lift sales.

Here are three ways brands can improve their existing sampling experiences and use experiential marketing to improve consumer experience and ultimately influence sales.

Capture Data During a Sampling Event

Brands with a good data capture strategy collect and manage a whole host of information from prospects at special events. Companies can then use this data to optimize their marketing campaigns. Names, addresses, email addresses, dates-of-birth -- brands can capture all of this information at an event and get to know more about the people who buy their products.

Trade shows, in particular, are a great place to capture valuable data. Statistic: Eighty-one percent of trade shows attendees have buying authority, and the average person spends 8.3 hours at an exhibition (CEIR: The Spend Decision, Exhibit Surveys, Inc.)Big data is essential for any alcoholic beverage brand: "It is an effective way to draw insights on consumer behavior and generate greater value from marketing campaigns," says James Rubin, writing for Forbes magazine.

The NBWA Annual Convention, BrewExpo America, Brewers Association Craft Brewers Conference -- these are just three places where alcohol companies can leverage the power of trade show data capture and drive brand engagement.

These events attract hundreds of craft beer vendors and thousands of thirsty customers who are searching for new alcoholic blends and brews. Here, vendors tempt visitors with free samples -- sometimes in exchange for personal data. Companies also advertise their presence at these exhibits before the event. Italian wine company Borboleta Wines‏ hashtagged their booth number on Twitter prior to the famous Nightclub & Bar Convention and Trade Show in Las Vegas, for example.

Collecting data during a sampling event often proves lucrative. People are more likely to hand over personal information if they feel like they are getting something in return, such as a glass of wine or a small bottle of beer. According to one study, 27 percent of customers are willing to share data in exchange for benefits or rewards. A separate study suggests this number is even higher: 99 percent of people are willing to give information for rewards.

Use Analytics to Scrutinize Data After a Sampling Event

Data capture presents brands with valuable business intelligence for decision-making and problem-solving. Statistic: 82% of marketers cannot quantify the data received from attendee interactions at their corporate events. (Kissmetrics)Clever analytics software provides these marketers with a solution. These programs give users real-time data insights after an event. Visitors, leads, sign-ups -- marketers use these key performance indicators to measure the success of past events and plan future campaigns.

Marketers can also utilize analytics to measure social media campaigns. Despite strict federal government regulations concerning advertising in the alcohol sector, some brands have generated a significant return on their social media marketing efforts. Napa Valley winery Whitehall Lane, for example, experienced a boost in month-on-month direct sales and a 39 percent rise in wine club member sales after using platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Create New Experiences

The U.S. alcoholic beverage market is booming.Statistic: Total alcohol sales totaled $223.2 billion in 2016 — the most successful year yet for the industry. (Statista)Still, the drinks market is crowded, with hundreds of beer, wine and spirit brands jostling for shelf space at stores like Walmart. Marketers need to think up new brand experiences that resonate with the general public in order to stay relevant and drive engagement. Otherwise, future drink sales could be a sobering experience.

Some of the most original sampling activations in recent years include the launch of 50 Cent's vodka brand, Effen. Prospective customers were invited to the rapper's mansion in Farmington, Connecticut, where they could meet the man himself and sample vodka cocktails. This VIP-only event included 200 reps, casino game tables and live music performances. The launch proved successful: Effen generated much media buzz in the days after the event. 50 Cent also promoted his vodka on social media, where he popularized the hashtag #nopuffyjuice -- a reference to P Diddy's rival vodka brand, Cîroc.

Marketers, regardless of their niche, can connect with customers through innovative brand sampling experiences. Customers love free products, but it's about creating an event that really gets people talking. "You must think about both the totality of the experience as well as the tonality," says marketing expert Jim Joseph, writing for Entrepreneur magazine. "The right combination will make the experience unique to your brand and motivating for your customers."

These three methods help brands maximize their future sampling activations. The result? More leads, sign-ups and social media followers.

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