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How Opt-In Freebies Backfire And How To Avoid It

You’ve definitely seen opt-in freebies because they’re everywhere: it’s rare nowadays that there wouldn’t be an e-book, audio or video offered as a bonus for subscribing to an e-mail list. It’s not surprising, since almost all Internet marketers agree that these freebies increase the number of opt-ins, therefore you should definitely offer one. In fact, many of them even say that not offering a freebie is one of the biggest e-mail list building mistakes. However, only few people are aware that opt-in freebies might backfire. How does that happen and how to avoid it?

What’s the problem with opt-in freebies?

“Some people who just want your freebie will stay subscribed to your list, but will never click on any links in your emails, or may not even open your emails at all. This really messes with your metrics: your active subscriber count, your open rates and click through rates are going to be a little off.” – Pat Flynn

How many newsletter did you sign-up to only because bonus freebie looked interesting? How many of those newsletters do you actually read? Exactly.

Many new bloggers don’t realize that in order to actually make money from your list you have to have a responsive list made from people who open and read your e-mails: there’s not much point in having loads of inactive subscribers. How can you improve your freebie, so it wouldn’t lead to a non-responsive list?

1. Understand your audience.

I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody” – Bill Cosby

Mistake: Many bloggers offer a very general freebie, such as e-book with inspiring quotes. It probably is better than nothing, but if you want to really impress your readers, you have to tailor the freebie to your target audience. How?

How to avoid it:

  • Figure out who our ideal reader is.Sit down, close your eyes and think about your ideal reader. Try to think about as many factors as you can, like gender, age group, education, job, lifestyle, fears, dreams, etc. Open your eyes and write it down.
  • Figure out what are the problems of your ideal reader. Now that you have a detailed description of your ideal reader, what are the problems that they’re trying to solve. Do they want to make more friends or do they already have loads of connections and want to learn to manage them? Are they looking for one night stands or their future spouse? Do they want to quit their jobs and travel the world or do they dream about successful corporate career? Write everything down.
  • Figure out what solutions can you offer to them. You have a description of your ideal reader now and you have a list of problems they are trying to solve. Now, take a look at it. Did you face any similar challenges in your life? Pick a problem for which you can offer a solution and build your freebie around it.

Example: Ramit Sethi is a personal finance blogger, so you should expect a frugality freebie, right? Wrong. Ramit is consciously targeting an entirely different audience: ambitious and smart young people who couldn’t care less about frugality, but are very interested in finding a dream job and earning more, so his freebie page is filled with awesome material on those two topics.

2. Add personality.

Mistake: Many bloggers offer freebies that are so impersonal that they might as well be written by a robot. This is a big mistake, because it’s personality what counts in blogosphere and if you don’t let it shine through in your freebie, people will forget it very fast.

How to avoid it:Illustrate the general points you make in your freebie with personal stories from your own life. This will not only help your audience to connect with you, but it will also make you much more memorable as well.

Example: A good example of successfully combining valuable information with personality can be Scott Young’s e-book on rapid learning, in which he introduces his holistic learning methods using personal examples.

3. Provide value

Many bloggers offer a low quality material as an opt-in freebie. This is a huge mistake, because you probably won’t get a second chance if you make a first bad impression: people who were disappointed with your freebie probably won’t open any of your e-mails.

How to avoid it: Make your freebie as valuable as you can. Aim for premium quality: if you wouldn’t feel comfortable asking money for it, then don’t use it as a freebie as well. This will take a lot of work, but it will be very worth it. Quality freebies not only impress subscribers, they go viral as well!

Example: Pat Flynn spent two months creating his e-book, “E-books the Smart Way” (which I highly recommend, by the way, since it’s very comprehensive guide on writing and launching an e-book). He still gets e-mails from readers who want to pay him for that e-book. How awesome is that?

Final words

Really, try to resist the temptation to make a low quality freebie to increase the number of sign-ups, because it’s not worth it in the long run: there’s no point in having loads of inactive subscribers. Take your time to create an awesome freebie instead. It will require much more effort, but results will be well worth it.

“Every once and a while I’ll get an email from a new subscriber who insists on paying me for my eBook – that’s the kind of value you want to give away.” – Pat Flynn

P.S. Guys, Alina wrote a great post, How To Promote A Free E-book To Boost Traffic And Increase Sales, be sure to check it out! :)

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