Everyone loves free stuff. From free coffee and bagels at industry conventions to free hugs at music festivals, there's seldom a better way of getting people to pay attention than giving them something for free. And if you sell products online, a great way to grab someone's attention is to dangle a little carrot in front of them so that eventually they give you something much bigger in return. Whether you're selling t-shirts online or a B2B industrial-grade piping company, free stuff is a proven method for capturing leads and pushing them down your sales funnel. Here are eleven great things you can give away to support your business.
A Free Template
Perhaps you're in the business of selling your services. It can be a bit tricky to turn, say, freelance writing, or marketing consulting into a physical product. But with a little bit of creativity it's possible to make a product out of an intangible service. A great example of this is the freelance proposal template you can download for free from this content marketing specialist's website. In exchange for a battle-tested proposal template, users give their contact information away and assuming they like the product have the option to come back and purchase classes or sign up for consulting in the future. "A free ebook is a great way to build an invaluable bond of trust with your users." (click below to Tweet)
A Free eBook
It might seem like a pain in the butt, but writing an eBook isn't actually as scary as you think. The rewards certainly outweigh the momentary intimidation of writer's block. When you do finish publishing your eBook, it makes a fantastic resource to give away to potential future customers. Moz gives away tons of free eBooks chock full of excellent tips about SEO, and although they certainly spend a lot of time writing them, they build an invaluable bond of trust and authority with many of their users, which pays off because their services start at $99 per month. Yeah, they're making bank, thanks in large part to those freebies.
A Free Class
Another how-to freebie that creates invaluable numbers of free leads is offering a free class. A class can be about absolutely anything, no matter what niche you're in. With the help of free online tools such as Udemy, it's easy to create a free class with everything from recorded lectures to pre-selected readings to give away to prospective customers. With more than two million users, CreativeLive offers courses in everything from graphic design to entrepreneurship. But they keep growing in large part to their excellent free classes, such as these ones about photography.
A Free Coupon
Some websites such as ChameleonJohn make their entire M.O about giving away coupons. That's probably not the case for your business, but giving away a coupon or two usually makes a positive difference in terms of increasing sales. One standby for eCommerce is to offer coupons for free shipping on purchases over a certain amount (usually starting between $50 and $100). Obviously you want to be generous enough to motivate customers to buy more, but not so generous that you end up costing your company too much because of the discount! [caption id="attachment_2521" align="aligncenter" width="625"]
A Free Download
Whether you are offering SaaS or an iPhone app or music to your customers, making certain products free to download is a good method for getting them to come back to you again and again. Denovali Records, a contemporary classical label from Berlin, makes a lot of their artists' music free to download. In exchange for a free MP3 track they can email fans of their music to let them know about new album releases, upcoming concerts, and swag sales (and who doesn't love swag?) "Put your best foot forward and offer potential customers a free @Skype consultation to get the ball rolling." (click below to Tweet)
A Free Video Consultation
If your business offers a highly customized product or service to your customers -- be it a specially-designed Magento eCommerce store (like us) or maybe architecture or graphic design -- there's a good chance that face-to-face consultations are a big part of the sales process. What better way to attract potential customers than putting your best foot forward and doing a Skype or Google Hangout video conference? Provided you have the charisma to back up your bold ideas, a free video consultation give you a better chance of securing contracts with new clients, it also helps catalyze your creative process and move you much faster towards gettin' stuff done (and getting paid) than a more traditional back-and-forth email approach.
A Free How-To VideoIt's important to exercise creativity when it comes to attracting new customers. That means you shouldn't limit yourself to text when there is a variety of media to choose from. A great example of this is using video. Maybe you sell skincare products and you want to share reviews of a new line of hand lotion with visitors to your site. Or maybe your business sells comic books and comic book paraphernalia and you want to let people know that your company has a booth at a major upcoming convention. Record a video of yourself -- or pay someone to make one for you on Fiverr -- and share it with them.
A Free Extension
Does your company offer a service or product that can be enhanced with a nifty browser or app extension? Nimble, a SaaS company that combines CRM with social media, has a free contact widget for Gmail that automatically looks up relevant information about whoever you're corresponding with in an email, including their LinkedIn profile. It's a great compliment to their main service, which focuses on managing clients by paying attention to their activity across multiple social media platforms. If you offer a free extension for an enhanced internet surfing experience, it will encourage customers to engage you for your paid services in the future.
A Free Affiliate Credit
Plenty of companies have some sort of affiliate program with partner businesses. Whether it's web design companies that partner with hosting websites or retailers that partner with consumer brands, a smart way to not only promote a connection to a partner company but sign up more customers is to offer signup credit to new customers. Envato has a great affiliate program for designers, developers, and other creative agencies who sell products in their market. Giving away free credit is a win-win for you because you build trust with new customers by pointing them towards a quality company, and for new customers to try out a new service or product without having to pay for it.
A Free Trial Period
Free money-back guarantees and 30-day trial periods are not just hackneyed sales phrases from the bygone era of Billy Mays TV infomercials. They still have a place in eCommerce, because there are few substitutes for having the confidence to tell potential customers that they will like your product so much they won't even think about asking for a refund. Everyone from Amazon to Macy's offers some form of free trial period or satisfaction guarantee; if you believe in the quality of what you sell, don't be afraid to include one on your website.
A Free List
Lastly, nothing beats a great list of recommendations or tips. If you develop WordPress plugins, share a checklist of your can't-live-without-em plugins for setting up a WordPress site. If you manufacture camping gear, offer a list of must-have items for anyone who wants to hike the Appalachian Trail. Heck, there are entire websites that are nothing but lists about everything from promising new startups to the best places around the world for digital nomads to live and work. Be creative! No matter what you're selling, there's always a list waiting to be written up and shared, and customers to win over. Now, will you share this list with your friends?
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