Real-time Marketing and the Dynamic Customer Experience

An interesting paradox has begun to emerge. Our expectations grow faster than technological advances. Data defines us, but we want a personal touch. People are busier than ever, but we want one-to-one interactions.

How can companies meaningfully serve their customers under these circumstances, deliver real and thoughtful experiences all while serving business objectives?

Real-time marketing could be an option. Check out brandwatch’s Guide to providing real value at the right time, across the customer journey, featuring Integer’s VP, Digital Marketing & Commerce Integration, Dennis Wakabayashi.

The power behind clever product sampling

Whenever someone buys something, there is a process that they have to go through. It’s most commonly known as the buying journey and it’s nothing sinister – it’s just a normal path that we all follow whenever we part with our cash.

That process begins with the realization of a certain requirement or desire. After that, consumers normally do their research and judge their needs against all the objections that spring to mind. Next, we look at alternatives and then reconsider the situation.

Only after passing that final test will we actually make the purchase so, as you can see, businesses face a lot of hurdles to overcome. People can and do drop out of that buying journey at any time.

What product sampling does is help companies drastically reduce this process. It cuts out so much of the pain that it’s just not even funny. Clever sampling campaigns target a demographic that has a particular problem or wish. Then, because they’re given a sample, consumers don’t need to do their alternative research.

And whilst they might have objections, consumers are generally more receptive when they’ve been given something free. Plus, sampling campaigns give brands a chance to answer any objections there and then. Quite simply, consumers are able to race through this buying process quickly.

It doesn’t end there either. Freebies generate a feeling reciprocity, which not only could result in direct sales, but also in fostering brand loyalty. And let’s not forget about word-of-mouth recommendations that could yield long-term benefits.

Word-of-mouth marketing is the most powerful marketing strategy that there is. Research has shown that we’re far more likely to try and buy a product if someone that we know, like and trust has said is good.

If you think about it, there’s a good chance that you’ve bought or tested something on the basis of someone you know recommending it. What product sampling does is leverage the power of this kind of influence.

Ultimately, then, sampling campaigns are incredibly effective because they quicken the sales process. The human brain is strangely predictable and we all have to go through a variety of steps before we buy anything. That’s never going to change, so as marketers, we should concentrate on overcoming these hurdles.

Hotcow is a non-traditional creative agency that specialises in experiential marketing that goes viral. Our campaigns generate buzz through crowd participation, PR and content sharing. Contact us on 0207 5030442, or email us on

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Merry Christmas

Christmas is a time for good will, forgiveness and joy so this year we wanted to temporarily put professional rivalries aside and spread a little Christmas cheer in adland.

We sent the entire agency out carol singing on the streets of Soho, singing personalised Christmas carols to our competitors, friends and frenemies and handing out treats from our lovely clients.

Wishing everyone a very merry Christmas, love Quiet Storm x

How to generate reviews from your sampling campaign

Product sampling campaigns are potentially the simplest, and most cost-effective way to generate awareness for your brand, and the item you’re trying to sell. One of the most significant benefits of these marketing strategies is that they allow you to generate more reviews and testimonials from your audience.

As many companies already know, reviews can be the key to creating trust in customers that have yet to sample your services for themselves. But how can you make sure that you’re creating a product sampling strategy that lends itself to increased review numbers?

Assess your audience

Before you even start considering the products that you might have available for an effective sampling campaign, you’ll need to make sure that you know the people you’re marketing yourself to. This will help to ensure that you’re directing your attention towards more engaged recipients, and in turn, this should mean that you can access better results.

Look at the goals you set for your business when you began considering a product sampling strategy. The chances are that you wanted to raise awareness of your brand with at least one target audience. Ask yourself what you need to know about that audience before you start putting your campaign into practice.

For instance, do they respond better to certain items in your portfolio? If so, then you can focus on giving away the free samples that people in your network appreciate most.

The happier a customer is with the sample they receive, the more likely they are to write a review on your behalf.

Choose the right products

Once you know which audience you’re going to appeal to, make sure that you’re selecting the products that best lend themselves to reviews.

For instance, customers are far less likely to purchase a product they know nothing about. If you’re concerned about raising attention for a new product, try giving people free samples to generate trustworthy reviews for future prospects.

It might also be worth thinking about how you can tie your products in with trending topics and issues in the marketplace. This will help to make your brand more conversation-worthy and could enhance the chances that your customers will want to talk about you on social media when they have the chance.

Remember, reach out to your customers and ask them for reviews after they’ve had their sample. People are much more likely to give something back to a brand that has already offered them something of value, thanks to a psychological need for reciprocity.

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Making dollar out of downtime

As schedules become more packed, real leisure time has become sparse and more precious than ever. Ironically, the rise of mobile means consumers may be more efficient in spending money, but the distractions are overwhelming, making downtime more frantic than it should be. How can brands help? By providing a product or service that enriches leisure time rather than diluting it.

How consumers spend their free time and their cash has changed since millennials came into the picture. As The Observer puts it: “It’s not cool to show off your logo or handbag. Now, the way you brag is flaunting your healthy lifestyle, so it’s a selfie at SoulCycle, a 10 dollar green juice or geotagging a hike.” We’ve said it once, we’ll say it again: it’s all about experiences.

Because of this, the fitness industry is booming; nowadays working out is considered a treat rather than a chore. The new influx of boutique gyms in big cities are catering to the needs of millennials who prefer a ‘pay-as-you-go’ system rather than committing to a membership. Consumers’ relationship with fitness is changing; they want bespoke classes, the best instructors in the business and the snazziest equipment out there. Each workout session has to be good enough for an Instagram post. According to Courier: “Eating healthy food, taking part in group fitness activity and choosing where to live based on whether young people can walk or cycle to work is now mainstream and seen as a marked shift from previous generations.” Health is a huge priority for millennials and if their precious leisure time is spent working out, it better be worth it.

What do consumers look to when they have a free minute? In the queue, before bed, during the ads – straight to their smartphones. As Campaign put it: “One of today’s great paradoxes is that mobile technology makes life more efficient and productive, yet it generates enough distraction so it seems there is less free time.” Brands need to capitalise on this by making sure their website is slick and mobile ready. Even the tourism industry has turned ‘mobile first’ as more consumers are not only shopping from their smartphone, but they’re booking holidays too. (Yes, this probably means late at night in bed). Every step of the customer journey in booking travel must guarantee connectivity to allow a good dollop of social bragging. According to Campaign: “Facebook reports the second most shared activity as being a ’travelled to’ event.”

As for hospitality, leisure time doesn’t necessarily mean eating out; now supermarket brands have made it acceptable to eat in. M&S does this well with their hugely popular £10 dine-in deal. The way people consume entertainment has changed too; the rise of Netflix means on-demand TV is the chosen format, rather than passively flicking through channels and therefore wasting valuable time.

What’s the best way to make dollar from downtime? Most importantly, make sure your content fits the consumers’ needs and desires. According to Campaign: “Millennials use cell phones for moments of relief, so brands should consider making their messaging short and snackable.” Whilst they’re scoring their social scrolling hit, if you can shave minutes off, they’ll love you for it. It’s also about timing; see how food brands capitalise on pre-lunch hunger pangs with mouthwatering recipes, whilst fitness brands bombard consumers with inspiring workout videos first thing.

In a world where we’re scrambling for more seconds, leisure time is an opportunity for brands to swoop in to act as help, not a hindrance. People are forever looking for ways to live, shop and work more efficiently, and now is a great time for brands to monopolise on the addiction to mobile whilst maintaining integrity through relevant content and a worthwhile product.

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