You know the old saying…you get what you give.
And people love getting free stuff.
There’s a reason why t-shirt cannons exist. It’s also why companies line their tables at trade shows and events with free pens, fidget spinners, bags and other random items that eventually end up in a drawer with old batteries and rubber bands.
Sure, these free “swag” items are great for reinforcing your branding. But what these items lack is real value that caters to your intended audience’s needs.
You want to provide resources that actually benefit your potential customer.
So what should you be giving?
Well, that is completely dependent on your specific sector or niche. But ask yourself this.
Is this resource something that I would want, if I were in their shoes?
If the answer is yes, then your’e on the right track. As digital marketers, we’re constantly bombarded by free offers and email marketing tactics. While the majority of this content is rubbish, we’re always excited to see the ones that do it right.
Because we almost always get something valueable out of it. In exchange, we’re happy to provide our email address — because we trust that this source will continue to provide useful information, tools or resources.
It matters when and where you offer
Throwing free resources at your potential customers isn’t necessarily a bad move, but there are ways to get more from this tactic.
One of the most useful strategies we’ve implemented when doing site design or working with clients is to make an offer as soon as someone enters a site. Pop-ups can be annoying, but when they offer something valueable it can be a great way to gather emails and hook someone in.
Take this offer for example — as soon as someone lands on the site they are offered a free $20 gift card in exchange for their email. Everything that follows is a well-oiled machine. They are able to enter their email and instantly get their discount with the click of a button.
We mentioned this tactic when we talked about how we put our email list on autopilot.
Everything that follows an offer like this should be completely intuitive and take no effort on behalf of the consumer. It should truly be a “free resource.” The only real trade-off is an email.
Once you have their email
You shouldn’t use it to spam them with useless sales initiatives. Earning customers trust in today’s climate means nurturing these potential leads by offering more value.
Discounts are a great for your initial “in.” But unfortunately, you can’t discount your way to success — it just isn’t viable. Instead, you should be vetting these emails and understanding who needs what — and offering the right resources at the right time.
So what can you offer?
Honestly, the list here is endless. If you can create it, and you see it’s value — it can be a great candidate for a free resource.
We’ve created a ton of free content that we’ve found valueable. Some of these we thought up ourselves. Other times, we saw a resource that someone else offered and thought to ourselves: “We like that, but we could make a better one.”
But if you’re really struggling to drum up ideas, we’ll go through some of the more popular ones to get you started.
eBooks are incredibly useful and powerful tools for your brand — and also for your customers.
They provide a wealth of information and provide a sense of authenticity for your brand. This is a great foundation for you to set when attempting to foster trust with potential customers. 63% of customers say they would only buy from authentic brands. This means that unless you’re brand is considered to be the real deal — you’re missing out on over half of the population.
You should be delving deep into your customer personas, buyer journey and any other vital information about your target audience when coming up with the content of your eBook. You should be aiming directly at your customer’s needs and desires. You should be aiming to make their lives easier.
The shifting tides of content marketing has the digital marketing world in a bit of a tussle about the appropriate length of content. Yes, consumer’s attention spans are definitely getting shorter and shorter. But, on the contrary…their attention to detail and thirst for valueable information has become more intense. Longer content has a tendency to be more engaging and increase the chance of conversation — which is a good thing if you ask us.
And eBooks are without a doubt one of the best ways to provide long-form valueable content.
This is one of those resources that many marketers know about, many marketers understand and many marketers participate in — but few actually host their own.
There are so many brand-building components that accompany the wealth of value you can be offering your customer base through free webinars.
Not only are you able to share the wealth of information you have to offer — but you’re also able to engage in a dialogue with your target demographic. The two way value of informing and engaging is not only valueable for you — but also your audience.
These webinars also put a face and name to your brand — further nurturing trust with your products or services.
Yes, these webinars are a free resource — but you’re also able to gather some useful information and also potential leads. When preparing your webinar, be sure to have some goals in place that you want to achieve. These can include:
- Improving brand identity
- New prospects
- Lead conversion
- Become a trusted expert in your industry
- Continue growing mailing and/or email list
Free online course
Take advantage of the shifting customer experience. While the old strategies revolved around marketers simply telling consumers what was best, newer strategies rely on informing customers and allowing them to decide that your product or service is in fact, the best option.
Online courses are a fantastic way arm your target audience with everything they need to make their own decisions and even deploy some of your strategies.
These are also a great way to continue illustrating your expertise and prop yourself up as a leader in your industry.
Here are some examples of great online courses we’ve seen out there.
This is one of the more creative online courses that gives real world experience to those that pass the exam. Students of the course form teams and complete training courses to learn the essentials. They are then tested and once they have passed, are given real money to use toward their own created campaign for a non-profit.
This is not only an excellent way to empower those that want to learn, but also help out those in need.
Udemy is actually an entire platform devoted to online courses. While the majority of classes on the site are not free — you can find over 4,500 free courses by searching the keyword “free” in the search bar.
Many of these free courses range from broad overviews to in-depth courses about a variety of topics.
Although the site itself isn’t necessarily indicative of how to offer free resources for your marketing initiatives — you can see just how many marketing initiatives have utilized these free courses for their own campaigns.
You can also browse these courses for an idea of how you can structure your own.
Alison is another pretty substantial online learning community with a ton of users and students to it’s name.
There is a broad range of courses from Google Analytics and SEO strategy, to learning how to code for you to choose from.
These courses are also a great way for you to show initiative in your own company by expanding your repertoire of knowledge. Many of these “E-Diplomas” are recognized by leadership as a great baseline of knowledge.
General resources (PDF’s, slideshows, etc.)
Some of the resources we’ve mentioned do take quite a bit of time and energy to create. Not to mention some of your designers time to beautify. But sometimes, simply offering the knowledge you have in an easy to digest format is the best strategy.
Free guides that pertain to your expertise in PDF format are a great resource. Not only because they can be easily downloaded, but also easily shared.
We like to inform our potential clients about what it is we do, and how it is we do it. The more they know, the better our relationship will be. We often provide guides to SEO or eCommerce before we meet with a client. But we also offer these free resources on our site or through email campaigns.
There’s nothing wrong with some simplicity, as long as the information or resource you’re providing is valuable.
We would love to hear what resources you’ve found most helpful! Or, even better — we’d love to know if there is a resource you’d like us to create!
Leave us a comment below with any suggestions.