Filed in Content Marketing, Email Marketing for E-Commerce, Email Marketing for Service Providers — January 21, 2023

Creating Freebies that People Actually Want

Freebies…the online service provider’s bread-and-butter for snagging email addresses in exchange for some wisdom. Or at least that’s how most people in this biz think about them. I, however, want to flip that narrative.

Freebies can–and should–be mutually beneficial. But I’ve seen free resources get slapped together, with the promise of revealing some business accelerating, game-changing, life altering secret, only to let the recipient down from a sad two page PDF with the same information they could find on a blog somewhere.

And then what? The recipient of the freebie thinks the creator scammed them into giving up their email address. And thennnn what? When the creator of the free resources follows up via email (to nobody’s surprise!), they have to climb an uphill battle of a tarnished reputation, lowered level of trust, and a case of the “ick” factor.

Nobody wants that.

It’s a lose-lose.

We all know that we can–and should–do better.

This doesn’t mean freebies are a waste of anyone’s time–au contraire! It just means we need to create free resources that are legitimately helpful. It’s honestly a little harder than it may seem (probably why there are so many crappy freebies floating around on the web these days). Keep reading this post to learn why it’s important to create freebies your target audience actually needs. 

Why Bother With Freebies?

These free resources serve as the entry point into your offer suite and help bring your target audience into your email marketing funnel. They’re a great way to grow your email list, position yourself as the subject matter expert, and gain trust with a potential lead.

The goal with freebies is to provide a wild amount of value for potential clients. You want the person to be thinking, “If I get THIS MUCH VALUE for free, what could I possibly get if I pay her?!” You need to give away as much free information as possible to your target audience. Period. It will feel uncomfortable. When you start to wonder, “If I give all this away for free, will they need to hire me?”, it means you’re on the right track.

But here’s the catch. After someone works through the freebie you create for them, they should still want MORE from you. You want them to move up the ladder of your offer suite–which is where email marketing comes in.

You need to understand human nature. You could create a free PDF resource that literally explains step by step how to do the job they could pay you to do. Seriously—EVERY step. You could give away every trade secret you have. Share every last bit of information. And nine times out of ten, your ideal client will still need your help. 

Humans are funny creatures. Accountability and money are huge motivators. When you give someone information for free, they aren’t likely to act on it. Why? Because there’s no skin in the game. There’s no pressure, nobody holding them accountable, and no urgency.

This is why FREEBIES ARE AMAZING WHEN DONE CORRECTLY. You can show your target audience that you’re the expert through a detailed, comprehensive, educational freebie. This builds trust and it builds it quickly. This way, when they realize they don’t have the time to implement everything you taught them in the freebie, they will hire you. 

Now let’s talk logistics.

Understanding Your Audience

Any freebie you create needs to solve a pain point for your target audience, which means you need to understand the issues and challenges your audience is running into.

It’s a good idea to do some market research to assess what your ideal client’s needs and goals really are. Would people actually be interested in the content you’re putting out? Before you put tons of time and energy into developing your freebie, you’ll want to know that there’s a demand for it!

Hint: FAQs from potential clients might give you insight into topics needing to be addressed. 

Creating Your Freebie Content

Designing and creating a freebie doesn’t mean you need to reinvent the wheel. Take the services you already offer, and see if you can transition some part of it into a standalone freebie.

Here are a few options to think about:

  • If you often consult on a topic or offer a strategy call, can you turn it into a PDF?

  • Can you record a training video on a topic you get asked about often?

  • Can you create a template for a planning process or strategy you use often?

Keep in mind that your freebie needs to be GENEROUS—your instincts should tell you that you should charge for the value you’re providing. (And you’re not wrong—but it’s worth it to provide free value now to encourage your audience to invest in you later.)

Don’t want to create yet another free download? We get it. We put together a whole list of alternate ways to build your email list without a PDF freebie. 

Why You Need A Post-Download Email Sequence

After you create the freebie itself, your work still isn’t over. To really cement your brand in the eyes of your audience, you need a post-download email sequence that will give people more background on your business, teach them MORE INFORMATION (yep, you need to give away more value), and encourage them to stay in touch.

In your post-download sequence, you’ll want to write 4-6 emails—to deliver the freebie, to remind them to use it and/or check-in on how it’s going, offer a quick “about the business” that gives some background information about your brand, a few emails with additional tips related to the resource they downloaded, and possibly a discount or incentive to keep them moving through your marketing funnel.

The goal of this sequence is to invite them to learn more about your offer suite, and to guide them to take the next step. Mark my words though–you don’t want to sound salesy. This sequence should feel encouraging, informative, and helpful. It should showcase your personality a bit and give them another taste of what it might be like to work with you.

Ready to create a freebie that your target audience actually needs?

In our new comprehensive email marketing retainer, we help clients create a new freebie every quarter. We’ll even write the post-download email sequence to help with upselling the next offer in your suite. This is part of a holistic package with monthly newsletter management, data reporting, sequence optimization, and more. If that sounds like something you want for your business, send us a message and we can talk details!

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