It happens all the time.
A web site owner decides that he/she wants to give away a lot of content, products, graphics, or anything else he can in order to build a large audience of targeted followers. Usually, the reason for giving things away for “free” includes a second part . . . that is, at some point, the site will change and focus on selling these same types of things to the large list of subscribers.
Does this strategy work? Does it make sense? Will the targeted subscribers change their mentality about the site from expecting to get everything freely . . . to all of a sudden paying for the previously free types of things?
Of course, no one knows for sure how your own audience will react to such a strategy as this.
But if I were starting a new site, I would be very careful about giving everything away. In fact, I think a better way to grow your list (other than giving so much freely) is to let your audience know and experience your product and service sales from the very beginning.
Subscribers expect to be sold to! It’s how business online is conducted. Yes, it would be nice if everything of value online was free. But as a business owner, you would not survive. People know and understand that you are in business to make money and they will accept your paid offers if you treat them well and always remember to give them value.
One of the downsides of giving lots of things away is this: you will unconsciously be attracting and catering to the “freebie seekers” online that rarely buy anything. When they are all of a sudden hit with a sales offer they will be gone and looking for the next freebie they can find online.
Another downside to giving away everything has to do with your effort. It requires a lot of time and sometimes expense in order to make free things available to your audience. There will be web hosting and storage costs, the time costs of preparing and serving up the freebie, possible support costs in helping your audience access your freebie, and other things that need to be factored into your decision to go to the effort of marketing, producing, storing, delivering, and maintaining access to your freebie. And what about the time costs of creating the freebie in the first place?
Internet owners have the mentality that because they can send something freely over the Internet, it really isn’t costing their business anything. But be assured that there are several very real costs to every freebie and offer.
So what do you do? Ask the prospects in your niche to forego all freebies that you’d like to give them?
A better solution is to offer a paid product at an attractive discount. Let the prospect experience your product and form an opinion about your helpfulness in the niche. You will repel the freebie seekers with this strategy; but you will also begin building a list of buyers within the niche.
The Internet gurus will all tell you different things about the usefulness and effectiveness of freebies vs. making offers on first contact. Personally, I believe this isn’t a one-size-fits-all marketing issue. Different niches may respond in a unique way to your strategies.
But understand this: testing and tracking results of your giveaways vs. your first contact sales offers is a fairly easy and straightforward process. You should be testing all your tactics and strategies! Why, you say? Simply because it’s the cost-effective way to be sure you’re maximizing your time and effort in your business. The statistics and results you gather can be a valuable tool in your effort to same time and money in your business. You want to focus all your future effort on those things that work best and give you the best ROI (return on investment) possible!
For the issue we’re discussing here, marketers have coined a phrase to describe what many have found – it’s called the Law of First Contact. It simply means that whatever approach your employ – free giveaways or paid offers – your subscribers will be comfortable with that same approach over time. So if you give everything away freely, you will cultivate a list of subscribers that will be looking for and wanting more free things. On the other hand, if your first contact is with a paid offer, those that subscribe to your list will not be afraid (in fact, they will expect) that you also charge for the valuable things in your business.
So the question at hand is this: Are you interested in a large list of subscribers that expect you to give them free products and content? Or are you more inclined to grow a list of buyers, even though that list may be somewhat smaller than what you might build by giving things away for free?
I think you know the answer if your intent is to make a profit online.
To your online business success,