The Irresistible Lure of “Free”
When you’re fielding offers and promotions on the web, whether it’s a banner ad, an email from your favorite online merchant, a sales web page, or anything else, which ones grab your attention?
I don’t know about you, but if they have the word “free” in them I always give them at least a second look. Sometimes I’ll even take action right then and sign up for a free trial, buy a product, or enter my contact details to receive more information.
Something about the word “free” makes it a magnet to prospects, consumers, and customers. Whether you’re offering a free month of a service, a free sample, a free report, a free newsletter, a free ebook… you’re guaranteed to get attention when you start throwing the word free around.
Of course, you’re not a philanthropist. You’re here to make money. So rest assured that your free offer is just to get your foot in the door, so to speak. You want to grab a prospect’s attention, find those who are interested in the types of products and services you offer, and then go after this “pre-qualified” group with your paid offers.
And with the free marketing model, a good percentage of prospects will buy. First, they’re already interested in your niche. Second, you’ve given them something for free. It’s a psychological principle, popularized by Robert Cialdini, that they now feel an obligation to buy something from you after you give them something for free. They have to “return the favor,” essentially.
Pretty cool, huh?
It’s basically a marketing technique that you can use to great effect if you start incorporating it into the marketing you do for your online business. You might be leery. Isn’t that “old school” marketing, you might say? Wrong.
The universal truth about marketing is that you don’t want to re-invent the wheel. “Free” offers have been working since the first ad was ever released hundreds of years ago. And they work still today even though the technology that delivers those offers has changed dramatically.
How It Works
Here’s the truth about Internet marketing: people are bombarded by so much advertising that they become desensitized by it. It takes a lot to stand out from the crowd, to grab the attention of your audience. Free does that.
Here’s how it might work.
Say your online business sells reports on investing in precious metals like gold and silver. There are a couple of ways you can use “free” to your advantage. For one, you could place banner ads on financial news websites offering a free ebook on “Gold Investing Trends for the Next Decade.” People click on the site and see that to receive that ebook, they have to sign up for your free email newsletter.
So they do, and now you can market to those who sign up. You don’t abuse that power. You have to provide real, useful content in your newsletter. But you can also include offers and pitches for your paid products. Many of your subscribers will do just that.
Let’s check out a second scenario showing a different “free” technique.
Have you ever been to the grocery store where you can buy two cans of soup and get one free? You can do something similar online. Whenever you sell anything, you should always include a free bonus in the pitch. Selling a series of dog training videos? Be sure to include a free “clicker” and/or a bonus report on training show dogs.
Believe or not but some people will buy a product just to get the bonus. But for most just getting a gift is enough to push them to buy.
Here’s the thing though… your “free” offers have to be good.
If you post a promotion on the web that actually offers a complimentary product of value – a product that gives the customer real valuable information for free – then you will see your conversions and sales soar.
Making the Sale
Once you’ve presented your free offer in a compelling way and the message has been broadcasted to the best of your abilities, it is now time to play the waiting game. Internet success stories rarely happen overnight. Even Facebook took years to build into the megalith it is today.
So don’t knock out a marketing concept in one evening and sit back and wait for the money to flow in. With the “free” technique it does take time to find out if your offers are bringing in buyers and not just gawkers hoping to get a freebie. The key is to test. Test different free offers and different venues for your marketing until you find the sweet spot. Track the results religiously.
If you follow this advice, I have no doubt you will succeed in whatever venture to embark upon.