Inbound Marketing Techniques

5 Types of Persuasive Free Offers To Website Visitors

Everyone loves free stuff. That’s no secret! But how can a site owner give away something valuable without going broke? Below, we describe five types of Persuasive Free Offers (PFOs) to strike this balance. And the last three won’t cost you a dime!

  1. Coupons. Everyone knows how this works: the customer is granted a discount on their purchase. Coupons can be used to stop visitors from leaving your website (by monitoring exit intent) or to attract existing customers back to your online store (by emailing them a coupon) or to put pressure on the visitor to “buy now” (by including an expiration date). This strategy is extremely popular. But since profit margins tend to be very thin, it is hard to offer steep and meaningful discounts. Likewise, discounting efforts can devalue a product in the eyes of the visitor or make the site owner seem desperate.
  2. Free Shipping. Outrageous shipping costs deter online purchases. Free shipping can help the site owner build trust and reduce shopping cart abandonment. But this approach is very costly to the site owner. Unfortunately, it is not possible for most site owners to negate a “real” cost like shipping.
  3. Newsletter Sign Up. This option provides the site owner with a simple way to obtain the user’s email address. An opt-in/squeeze page is easy to create and encourages “hot prospects” to self-identify. The site owner keeps subscribers up-to-date on new products and special offers. This technique is also extremely popular. But opt-in rates must be very low because the “free newsletter” offer is not very enticing. We have found there is almost always a better way to build trust, provide value, and incentivize the visitor to register than to “beg” visitors to subscribe to a newsletter.
  4. Free PDF or Email Course. This is a compelling technique to convey value to the visitor while creating a strong personal bond. A PDF that contains valuable information or delivering this content in small chunks via a weekly email course keeps the prospect engaged. Nurturing this relationship can lead to future sales and/or paid subscriptions. So what’s the catch? The content offered for free must contain valuable information that can’t be easily found elsewhere on the web. Compiling information from disparate sources or tapping into an exclusive knowledgebase are two ways site owners maximize value and minimize cost.
  5. Access to Premium Content or Premium Benefits. Some site owners require visitors to register for their website to gain access to premium content and/or unlock certain benefits. When most content is free, site owners have more opportunities to build trust with visitors and they can attract more visitors via SEO. In turn, this approach creates a wider pool of visitors that might want to access the “Members Only” area of the site. In contrast, if most or all of the content is only available to those who register, this approach could discourage visitors from joining.

In any case, we urge our clients to do more than beg visitors to sign up. What tactics can you employ to demonstrate value and build trust? We have some ideas on demonstrating value and building trust. But no matter how you structure incentives to entice visitors to buy products or join your subscription service, it’s critical to make your offer super obvious to the visitor. It took a lot of work to get the visitor to your site. Why not do everything possible to ensure they are aware of the type of value you provide?

In the example above, the site owner offers a coupon for 10% off and newsletter subscription. It does not seem the discount is likely to make a big impact on the final price and the benefits of subscribing to this newsletter are not clear. Could they make this offer be more compelling by adding a free gift or free shipping instead of 10% off? We tend to think so.