I live in Atlanta, GA, which is also home to the rapidly-growing fast-food chain, Chick-Fil-A. One of the secrets to their success is how the restaurants are generous with their free samples. I can remember on several occasions walking past their storefronts at a mall food court. There was always an employee standing out front holding up a piping hot platter of fried chicken nuggets. The aroma was so intoxicating that it was impossible to resist walking by without taking a sample. My problem was that once I ate the free sample, I immediately wanted to go buy a large pack of nuggets or one of their tasty chicken sandwiches. The enticing free sample led me to make a purchase.
This same dynamic of offering enticing free samples is critical to digital marketing success. One of the fastest ways to convince people to pay for books, e-books, or anything else for that matter, is to display attractive content for free. When people download your freebie, they’re able to receive immediate value from you that can lead them purchase something else. More importantly, they join your email list where you can promote products and services to them for the long-term. Building your list is the easiest way to drive sales. Offering an appealing freebie is the easiest way to drive people to your list.
If you can’t convince people to accept something for free, good luck trying to sell them anything. I’ll even take things a step further. If you have a boring freebie offer, I believe your business will always struggle. There is no reason why free content shouldn’t be the cornerstone of your digital marketing strategy.
People have been talking about content marketing for the past 5 – 10 years. Yet, I see too many authors and publishers ignoring or incorrectly executing this strategy. Some of the most common problems include:
1. Promoting free content with boring titles and cover images. Would you eat a free Chick-Fil-A nugget sample if it looked cold and undercooked? Of course not. Likewise, it doesn’t matter if you think your freebie title is good. All that matters is if the public thinks your title is attractive. If no one is downloading your free stuff, then you’ve got a lame offer that needs to be changed immediately.
2. Burying free offers at the bottom of websites and social media pages. I’m shocked by the number of websites I’ve visited where a freebie is never displayed. Or, the promotion is listed at the bottom of pages in a position that few people ever see it.
3. Forgetting to upsell and include contact information. Don’t trip at the finish line. When someone accepts your free offer, they are naturally more inclined to make a purchase or stay connected with you. Always display an inexpensive upsell at the end of your free content. You’re giving the reader a logical next step to take. And, always include your contact information. You never know who might share your freebie with others.
Free samples won’t help drive digital sales unless you make a concerted effort to get them noticed. Fortunately, there are several ways to promote your offer inexpensively or at no cost:
1. Always make your freebie the focus on your website. Display multiple signup boxes, use pop-ups, create landing pages, etc. Set a goal to make sure every visitor to your website won’t miss your free offer.
2. Use social media to drive traffic to your freebie. Post links once or twice a week to your free content using your various social accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.). Create landing pages and drive traffic to those links.
3. Buy advertising that promotes your freebie. Organic promotion is always good, but usually not enough to significantly grow sales by itself. Once you’ve created a free offer that entices a good response, add more juice to the process by purchasing adds on Facebook, Google Adwords, similar websites, like-minded bloggers, etc. Yes, there’s a short-term cost, but remember the long-term benefit of adding people to your list. You get to consistently market to them in the future.
The best part about offering free samples is that you’ll know if they’re working almost right away. People will either feel enticed to take them, or people will choose to ignore them. That’s good news because the response will make your next steps clear. If you get good response, place even more emphasis on highlighting your freebie to a wider audience. Post the offer on more web pages. Buy more advertising. In contrast, if you get an apathetic response, then go back to square one and create something new.
Don’t hesitate to kill a free offer that doesn’t get quick results. It’s better to keep searching for a freebie that will run like a thoroughbred than to keep riding a lame horse. In many ways, your digital marketing strategy depends on the quality of your free sample. Now, if someone could just point me to the closest place to get some hot chicken nuggets…
Speaking of free:
“Free” image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalImages.net