Spotify, Facebook, Netflix, and Amazon are some of the world’s most successful tech companies. They all share a common denominator – a subscription-based business model that requires users to input personal information to opt-in. Once connected, users can stream their favorite music and movies, buy and sell in the online marketplace, and engage on social media. Each interaction creates data points that feed algorithms and appeal to advertisers.

Similarly, today’s online sampling platforms are constructed from the data provided by subscriptions. Due to the high quantity of customer impressions available online, the insights gathered far surpass older, manual sourcing methods like cold calls and government-sourced lists.

As technology continues to evolve, online sample providers will need to incorporate these platforms and other innovative web-based methods into their toolkits to stay competitive amid the uncertainty of a rapidly changing market.

However, in my experience, there are a few essentials needed when building an online sampling platform that will not change no matter how much technology advances (at least for the next few decades).

In Subscription-Based Models, Email is King.

Email has endured the test of time and is almost always required when subscribing to any platform. While some marketers blast the masses via email, savvy marketers leverage email’s personalization capabilities to facilitate more individualized experiences. We see this play out as more companies shift away from transactional customer relationships to value-based ones that come with a monthly commitment and customized content. This is excellent news for the sample industry, which has come to rely on data from the tech giants (Google and Facebook) for panel recruitment.

Not only is it expected, but their opt-in is required to comply with privacy regulations.  

You may ask, “Well, what about exchange platforms such as Lucid, PureSpectrum, and Cint? Exchange platforms create the sample market where buyers and sellers of sample exchange.  However, the sample sellers/suppliers still have a subscription-based platform. Without these systems, it would be much harder for exchange platforms to thrive. 

Include Multicultural Panels in Your Online Sample Platform.

When building online sample platforms, it’s essential to include multicultural participants.  This means going beyond monolithic stereotypes and diving deep into the nuances that define subcultures within each ethnic group.

For example, if you want to target Black Americans, don’t just build an interface that speaks to broader cultural inferences.  Market to different age groups, genders, and income groups within the Black community. Target Gen-Z, Millennials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers, and segment these audiences using geographic markers like city and state. Build two or three different panels that will get a broader representation of the country or geography.

If you fail to do so, you’ve just spent a great deal of time and money on a panel that won’t be representative, making it practically useless to companies and brands seeking to engage the total market. This can lead to disastrous results for clients and lost business opportunities. To stay competitive, you must effectively segment multicultural audiences to deliver a more accurate representation of the U.S. consumer base so clients can construct products and services to meet the market’s needs.  

Keep Up With Rapidly Developing Technological Innovations

At one point, Sears and RadioShack were the biggest sellers of home goods and electronics until challenger brands, at the time, like Best Buy and Amazon, came along and put them out of business. The same principle applies to the online sampling industry. 

As technology continues to evolve, the websites where people interact and connect will change.

If you don’t, you run the risk of being outbid by competitors and having to invest in massive system overhauls down the line.

Key Takeaways

Building an online sample platform with subscriptions (emails), segmented multicultural panels, and technological innovation is essential. While security, algorithms, APIs, and sales insights are also important, the three building blocks outlined in this post will provide you with a solid foundation to build a reliable online sample platform.