I am sure everyone has had a free sample ice cream or candy bar. I just had two M&M ice cream bars while walking up and down on Michigan Ave. Anyone who has walked on Michigan Ave today between 12-2 has to have had it. They had trucks sitting on the road and they were giving them away. Even the trash cans on Michigan Ave were showing that – see picture below (I wanted to take a picture of the trucks but missed it). How measureable are these samples? Yes, we can model out how many ice cream bars were given out and use an average conversion rate to guesstimate the impact of the samples.
While walking back, I thought how we can have a similar concept online. Yes, we cannot give away free ice cream online but there are a lot of different products which can be sampled online. For example: When Sony or Microsoft release new video game for Playstation or Xbox, demo versions of the games should be available to download online for the gaming enthusiasts to play. After the demo, there should be a promotional offer to buy the full version of the game. This would be fully measureable – from number of demo games played to how many gamers bought the full version of the game. One more thing could be free versions of browser or software like picture organizer.
Even looking at upward in the funnel, there can be online banners and the click-through rate would help understand the initial engagement with the game. Nowadays even in-banner gaming is a possibility with the fancy rich-media banners.