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The Real Cost of the Free Sample

The free sample is a staple of marketing. Just spend an hour walking through Costco or perusing a money-saving mommy blog. Look at the number of people who will give up a Facebook “like” in order to get one or how many friend’s email addresses they’ll pimp out in return.

The trouble is, free samples aren’t free for the business who provides them. They actually cost quite a bit of money, particularly if they have to be shipped to thousands of people. Consumers don’t get this. Especially if they’re asking a business to donate an item to a local charity. Consumers think, well, you’re making cookies anyway, so what’s the big deal about making two dozen more in support of the youth soccer team? After all, it’s good advertising for your company, right?

Where Do Consumers Go for Product Reviews? Not Social Media

Going online to research a product before you buy it is something nearly everyone does at least a few times a year. People look up everything online, especially high-tech items, clothing, cars, and even DVDs and CDs. And you can bet that what they read online is influencing which item they buy and who they buy it from.

But where do people look for information? Lightspeed Research has the answer.

As you can see, social networking lands at the bottom of the list, which doesn’t bode well for all those brand “likes” on Facebook.

Naor Chazan, Marketing Director, Americas at Lightspeed Research says,

“Despite their role in our digital lives, social networks don’t yet seem to be the place where Word of Mouth is delivering its full power.”

Email Subscribers ‘Can’t Wait’ to Open Deal Newsletters

I subscribe to a lot of email newsletters and there are several that I would greatly miss if I stopped receiving them. But I can’t think of one missive that I receive on a regular basis that I would say I “can’t wait” to open.

This is not the case with your average bargain shopper. According to a report compiled by eMarketer, more than half the people who subscribe to deal newsletters are excited to get them to the point where they “can’t wait” to see what’s inside.

I love shopping. I love deals, but really? Part of me wants to suggest that these people need a hobby, but the marketing part of me says, yippee! This is great news. And it gets better. Remember the concept of deal fatigue? Guess it’s not happening. . . yet.

Forrester Says Facebook and eCommerce Don’t Mix

Forrester Research just released a new report called “Will Facebook Ever Drive eCommerce?” and the folks at the Wall Street Journal have given us a sneak peek.

The report basically states that right now Facebook is not at all effective for driving eCommerce sales.

The study found that the average Facebook metrics are a 1% click-through rate and a 2% conversion rate. E-mail marketing, by comparison, has an 11% click-through rate and a 4% average conversion rate.

The reason for this is obvious. People don’t go to Facebook to shop. They primarily go to catch up with friends or play games. Forrester Research analyst Sucharita Mulpuru acknowledges that people will go to a Facebook brand page and “like” it in order to get a coupon, but that’s a fleeting interest that may have no impact on future sales (except, I suppose the sale connected to the one-time coupon use.)

LivingSocial Living High on $400 Million in Funding

The online deals space is certainly heating up as more and more marketers get in the game. The decision for many is whether they want to build their own version of a deals site or whether they want to use one of the big names in the space.

For the most part, the biggest name in the space is Groupon. They are in the news constantly for a variety of reasons which are a mix of good (tremendous growth) and bad (poor executive decisions about marketing etc) but they are the de facto industry leader.

Unlike the search marketing game though Groupon’s position is less than bulletproof since the ability to copy the process isn’t a high barrier to entry. What is tough is scale and that’s where Groupon has the edge over most little guys.

Smartphones Are a Mommy Must Have

Moms are the original multi-taskers. They’re geniuses when it comes to getting things done in small chunks of time and from the bleachers during a Little League game. So it’s not surprising to find that mommy smartphone usage is on the rise.

BabyCenter says;

Overall adoption of smartphones among moms has risen 64% over the past two years, and 51% of moms say they are “addicted” to their smartphone.

The pregnancy and parenting website surveyed 5,000 US moms to find out how and when they use their smartphones. More than half the women said that they bought a smartphone “as a direct result of becoming a mom.” Once they became a mom, the camera became the most important feature, followed by the video option and then apps. The survey said that before becoming a mom, apps didn’t even make the top ten list of important phone features.

Nearly Half of All Mobile Users Use Their Phone to Shop

While 89.7 percent of the U.S. population aged 18 to 64 have mobile phones, only 49.1 percent are using their phones to shop.

That fact comes from a recent study conducted by Arc Worldwide that was reported on by Reuters. They took a close look at the behaviors of 1,800 mobile shoppers and found that 80% of them fell into the “light” category leaving 20% on the heavy side.

Here’s the graphic from Reuters that explains it all.

Not surprisingly, the iPhone was the preferred phone for mobile shopping and the heaviest shoppers are younger people who tend to be “in the know.” It is surprising to see that men are the heaviest mobile shoppers. That could be because they don’t see shopping as a fun activity as many women do, so they just want to get what they need and be done with it.