How Freebies Generate Leads for Websites

It’s human nature.  Everyone loves getting something for free.  Business owners can use this behavioral truth to increase traffic to their websites and generate qualified leads.

Not everyone who visits a website is ready to make a purchase.  In many cases, consumers will comparison shop, visiting several times before making a decision.  So even if the website is the main portal through which customers place orders, an equally important purpose of the website is to generate leads.  

Creating an ezine or newsletter is a common “freebie”.  Subscribers opt in, which means they provide minimal personal information in order to receive the newsletter.  Each new subscriber becomes another lead.  The result over time is a large mailing list of qualified prospects.  In addition to the newsletter, business owners email announcements of new products or services to this custom-made pool of potential buyers.

Many website owners give away “freebies” such as a special report or ebook to increase newsletter sign-ups.  This gives visitors to the website an additional incentive to take action, an important step in converting the visit into a future sale.  Making the offer time-limited increases urgency and gives prospects a good reason to sign up now, rather than later.

Another benefit of offering “freebies” is the valuable market information it provides.  A significant response to an offer suggests the item is a hot topic among qualified buyers.  Such data can be useful in driving new product development for the business.

Marketing experts have noted one downside of the free offer, the possibility of attracting people who solely want the “freebie” but are not interested in purchasing anything in the future.  One way to decrease the likelihood of this is to make the free offer enticing to those in the market for the products and services offered for sale, but unappealing to others.  A direct seller, for example, could offer a free item to anyone who books a sales party that month.  By tying in the “freebie” with the desired action, only serious shoppers will respond.

A growing internet trend is to offer visitors a free membership to the website’s online community.  Membership entitles the user to access restricted areas of the site, publish a profile, and interact with other members of the community.  Usually only a basic amount of information is required to join, such as name and email address.

Industry estimates show that response rates triple when a “freebie” is offered as incentive for prompt action, effectively lowering the business owner’s cost per lead substantially.  Even if the free gift increases the total expense of the campaign, the higher volume of qualified leads will result in higher sales volume, thus offsetting the additional expense.

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