There are many marketing activities you can use in order to generate interest for your products and services. One key strategy which can provide you with many short and long term benefits is to give something away for free.

Here we discuss how giving something away for free can be hugely profitable for your business. Read on to learn more here about this useful marketing strategy.

 

Informative Blog Posts

Advice is always easy and cost effective to produce. Having a regularly updated blog which provides actionable advice for your customers is a great way to start. Your blog should aim to solve problems that your audience are likely to have but very little should be included about your products or services, unless you can truly provide more value in doing so.

The key is to give away just enough information that the customer can see the benefit of learning from you and reading about what you have to offer, but not so much that they don’t need your services.

Regular blogs posts are a great idea because they serve two functions: they are good marketing tools for when customers land on your blog page and they can also be indexed by search engines so you can be found by more customers.

However blog posts on their own seldom give you long term benefits and you need more enticing free content to complement the blog.

 

Ebooks and Whitepapers

One step up from the blog post is the ebook or whitepaper. Essentially a kind of extended blog post, both ebooks and whitepapers can reach several thousand words, though not always. Generally ebooks contain highly useful and actionable advice just like a blog post, whereas whitepapers tend to be more based around the study of a particular subject.

The best practice with ebooks and whitepapers is to offer them in return for the site visitor giving their email address. Their details can then be used in further marketing activities, e.g. drip marketing campaigns.

You can also include more sales information within the document, for example a small group of testimonials and a company profile.

Many businesses write and utilise ebooks and they can be hugely successful. They are also cost effective and can be produced in relatively short periods of time. The company can also gain large amounts of information on the customer’s specific interests over time and can monitor trends in demand.

However, because of the high number of ebooks on the market it can be challenging to generate interest and differentiate your ebook from others out there.

 

Apps

Many businesses are now using apps to generate interest in their brands, products and services. E-commerce sites, for example, are creating apps which customers can use to browse and buy products on their tablets and mobile phones.

Other businesses are using their knowledge to create apps to supply useful information to their customers. For example, a simple diagnostic tool, where the user enters certain information and the app provides them with a score or recommendation, can be extremely effective in engaging the prospect and easing them into a sales funnel.

Other examples have included apps, which allow users to fully engage with a given website: these tend to be more common with membership sites.

Apps are a great way to give something away for free, due to the massive rise in the use of mobile devices for online browsing.

However, as with the blog posts, ebooks and whitepapers, generating interest can be difficult. Also apps can be fairly expensive to design, build and have available online. Therefore businesses need to be sure there is a market and a good purpose for their app.

 

Free Trials

Free trials are an excellent method of generating interest in your products or services and they have several benefits for both your customers and your business.

The user can benefit from having full access to your product for a limited amount of time. This time can be used by the business to show how valuable their product is to the consumer and can create a dependency for it from the customer’s point of view.

If they become dependent on the product, then when the trial ends they are more likely to buy full access. The chance of a customer buying the full product is increased as they will wish to avoid wasting the significant time they have already invested in using the free version.

However a free trial can have significant disadvantages. These include the large initial investment to set up the product initially and also having the systems in place to ensure you can follow up on the leads generated from the free trials.

There is also the possibility that a free trial will not entice some customers when they realise the significant amount of information often required to sign up. It is generally wise to simplify the signup process as much as possible. That said, a high barrier to entry can often help in weeding out time-wasters.

You should also consider whether your product is suitable for a free trial. In some cases, often when your product has a small or even seasonal period of use, then a free trial is not going to be successful. However, if you product has a long-term regular use cycle then a free trial can be an excellent way to generate interest.

 

Freemium

The freemium model is potentially useful for businesses that, for whatever reason, can’t employ the free trial idea. Generally, the model centres on offering a basic version of your product for free, with additional features made available to those who are willing to upgrade.

There are a number of benefits to the freemium model, which normally attracts a larger audience, and allows you to test a number of aspects including a referral program and upgrade hooks.

It can also make your business a more attractive acquisition target with the number of users having a big influence on the perceived value of your business.

Yet there is a significant challenge with the freemium business model – the product still needs to be high quality in order for your customers to see its usefulness but at the same time significantly diluted that there is a purpose in upgrading the product to the paid version. This means development can be expensive and it can take time between the freemium being taken up by your customer and then upgrading to the paid model.

Mobile app games offer an excellent example of how this has worked with Angry Birds being a classic example. Another example would be with anti-virus software, like AVG, and some online magazines also use similar approaches.

 

Conclusion

There are many ways to give something away for free and not every option will be suitable for every business. By looking hard at your business and what you have to offer you can decide what you can afford and effectively gift to your target customers. Once you are attracting them with free gifts you can start collecting useful marketing information and direct your customers to further paid products.

 

Action Steps:

  • Take a look at your products and decide whether you can give a free trial or a freemium model.
  • Create a blogging schedule to give away some good content over a long period of time.
  • Write a couple of ebooks or whitepapers which can be downloaded from your site in exchange for some useful contact details.
  • Consider whether your business could create an app and whether it would be cost effective.

Jake Burdess

Director at Aflua
This post is by Jake Burdess, the founder of Aflua and HEROIC. Jake is an English designer who lives in New Zealand with his wife and three kids.

Latest posts by Jake Burdess (see all)