The Importance of Free: Boost Your Sales by Giving Away Content
The Importance of Free: Boost Your Sales by Giving Away Content
Costing 62% less than other marketing methods, but generating three times as many leads, content marketing can be a fantastic way to boost your business.
Content marketing can take many forms, but the most popular methods are blogs, free courses, eBooks, and other downloadable content.
When you give away content for free, not only are you showcasing your knowledge and experience to your audience, but you can build trust, nurture loyalty, and even cross-sell new products to your customers.
The Power of Giving Away Content
Everyone loves a bargain, and no-one can resist free samples.
Businesses have been giving away free samples of their products for years because they understand the value of letting customers try something before they invest their hard-earned cash.
However, when you provide a service, giving away samples isn’t as easy as setting up a stall to give away bite-sized tasters.
Content marketing is one of the most valuable marketing tools available to any business, but it’s one that’s often overlooked by entrepreneurs. After all, everyone wants to get paid for the time they spend creating content, and giving away that content for free doesn’t seem like it offers any immediate benefit.
Free content isn’t just a new way to market yourself online, however. It’s a powerful tool that you can use to improve your business across the board.
Benefits of Giving Away Content
Depending on what content you give your audience free access to, it can have a plethora of benefits for both yourself and your business.
- Lead generation
- Increases brand awareness
- Filters out dead leads
- Increases traffic to your website or blog
- More mailing list subscribers
- Boosts brand loyalty from your clients
- Demonstrates your expertise
- Communicates your values
Not every piece of free content will confer the same benefits, however.
Before you dedicate hours of your precious time to creating content for your audience, you should consider what you’re looking to achieve.
What Types of Content Should You Give Away?
The content that you give away will depend on your business, what you’re selling, and what you want that content to do for your business.
Having a blog is one of the most traditional ways of publishing free content, and it’s such a popular method because it works. Blogs can help you improve your brand image and demonstrate your expertise.
With the addition of strong SEO marketing, they can also help improve brand awareness and increase traffic to your services.
Not only that, but blogs can be a great source of passive income, which can add another revenue stream to your business.
Free eBooks, white papers, and reports are great for giving away long-form content. The best free eBooks are often instructional and offer the reader a chance to learn something new or help them to understand your methods.
These are powerful tools to help showcase your knowledge and experience, as well as communicate to your audience your desire to help them succeed.
If video content suits your business, creating tutorials can be a fantastic way to highlight your skills.
Many entrepreneurs that offer courses have found success through using short, free courses to get their audience interested, demonstrate their teaching style, and help potential clients see if the course will help them.
The Fear of Missing Out
Exclusivity and scarcity are two of the most powerful sales tools, and you can use them to your advantage in your content marketing.
As with brands that sell limited edition products or exclusive runs, you can create content that expires after x amount of time or downloads.
So, if you’re giving away free access to an introductory course, you might only keep sign-ups open for a week.
Or, you only give away a free eBook to the first 1000 readers who sign up for your newsletter.
FOMO is a powerful tool in any content marketing toolkit, and for good reason. It drives the human brain to make snap decisions, particularly where free content is involved.
Combining the power of free with scarcity marketing means there are no barriers to making an impulse “purchase”, helping you generate leads quickly.
Push Sales Without Being Pushy
The downside of FOMO-based content is that now more than ever, customers are catching on to brands that use artificial scarcity to drive up demand.
That’s why it’s important to be authentic when you’re using scarcity marketing in your content.
Adding a personal element to expiring content can show your audience that your content is expiring for a reason. For instance, emailing people who have downloaded free content to ask for feedback, or inviting free course users into a challenge group on Facebook.
When your audience feels like this free product is limited for a reason, it’ll seem more exclusive, making them more invested in both the product and your brand.
Combining Email Marketing with Expiring Content
Using expiring content can be a great driver of newsletter signups, whether that’s for your regular newsletter or a separate stream just for customers who are interested in your free content.
Email marketing, and particularly automated email marketing, can help to check in on your audience who have downloaded expiring content and to ask for feedback, as well as advertise the paid-for content that your expiring content relates to.
As this audience already has a taste of what your paid content will entail, email marketing can ensure you’re nurturing the leads you’ve generated.
Profiting from Giving Away Content
One of the main ways that giving away free content is profitable is through lead generation and nurturing.
Just like brand representatives giving away food samples at a grocery store, you can convert new customers and cross-sell to existing ones by giving them a free taste of the products you provide.
Not only that, but you can publish content that directly addresses your customer’s pain points, helping them transition seamlessly through the Buyer’s Journey.
Giving away content can even help you “warm-up” cold or dead leads.
Free content will inevitably attract customers who are looking to get as much knowledge as they can for free. While these leads may never have intended to make a purchase from you, publishing great free content can help to change their minds and show them the value of your brand.
Turning Free Content into a Sales Funnel
Giving away a taster of your new course, eBook, or other downloadable content can make for a brilliant sales funnel when done correctly.
Taking an example of a course, you could offer short videos to your clients that explain the content of the course, give them the foundational knowledge they need to get the most out of this course, or even release the first lesson for free.
With this in place, you can then offer exclusive discounts to the full course, early access for people who download the free content, or some other reward that thanks the customer for their interest.
The free course section will give customers an idea of your teaching style and an opportunity to see if the course will be a good purchasing decision for them, without them having to invest anything more than the time they spend watching your videos.
How to Avoid Giving Away Too Much Content
As a professional, you always need to make sure you’re getting paid for your time, and giving content away for free can quickly go from a strong marketing decision to one that actively works against your sales.
When you give away content, you need to consider how unique the content is to your knowledge, experience, and persona.
The internet is already filled with thousands of articles, videos, and other content that explain common topics and solve common problems.
Customers won’t pay for knowledge that’s already free elsewhere.
But what they will pay for is detailed knowledge, tutorials, or methods that are unique to you.
That’s not to say sharing your opinion on a common method or writing about how to apply knowledge to a certain type of problem is a bad thing to give away. Giving your audience these valuable snippets is the whole purpose of content marketing and will leave them feeling like they’ve got a ton of value for free.
However, giving away everything you’ve learned for free while you’re trying to sell a course that teaches the same thing will leave your customers wondering why they should bother with your product.
Questions to Ask Yourself
When you’re planning what content to give away to your audience, ask yourself the following questions:
- What value does this content bring to my business?
- How will this content fit into my sales funnel/marketing strategy?
- How does this content benefit my audience?
- What will I ask my audience for in return? (Newsletter signups, feedback, focus group participation, etc)
- Can I afford to give this content away for free?
- How will this content impact my revenue streams?
Answering these questions will help you understand not only what kind of content you should give away, but most importantly, how you can profit from making it free.
The Value of Content Marketing
Almost half of all content marketing in 2019 was focused at the top of the funnel - that is, generating awareness and interest in a product or service.
When you’re looking to generate new leads, giving away content for free can make the difference between your audience seeing you as an authority and closing your website without making it past the homepage.
And, with 71% of respondents surveyed in a Demand Gen Report saying that they reviewed a blog before making a purchasing decision, it’s clear that the future of marketing is in giving away content.