As many people know, I stopped publishing my regular newsletter about book publishing a few months ago. I also removed all of the freebies off my Web sites, except for the one people receive for joining as a free member of the National Association of Pet Rescue Professionals.
People said I was nuts. You have to give away free stuff. It’s just what you do online.
Other people said, no one reads email anyway, so it’s no great loss.
I’ll be honest, it felt great to stop writing a newsletter article every week after publishing a weekly newsletter of one type or another for about 10 years. I even felt a little guilty about how gleeful I was every Wednesday not to be formatting my newsletter in AWeber.
Two unexpected things have come out of my decision to stop doing my newsletter.
1. I’m writing more.
2. My online sales and inquiries have increased.
Now you might be thinking: “If you aren’t sending email anymore, and no one reads email anyway, how are you marketing online?”
Actually, I’m doing what I’ve been doing since 1997. Writing great content. The difference is that I’m not sending it out via email.
The Freebie Mindset
I believe that the traditional online marketing approach of giving away a freebie to grow a huge list, and then pounding the list with offers isn’t viable anymore. (Maybe it never was, unless you had such a huge list that you could have an infinitesimal response rate and still make money.)
At this point, most people deal with far too much email every day. They are extremely busy, so they just ignore offers from the freebie lists they joined.
Even in my case, I have unsubscribed from virtually all freebie lists, particularly ones that are doing nothing but shilling for affiliate products. Many people don’t bother to unsubscribe at all. They just automatically file the emails (“to read later”) or eventually mark the email as spam to be done with it.
Most Internet users are savvy enough to realize that they can get almost anything online for free, if they look hard enough. People who sign up for a freebie expect the freebie. That’s all they want. They don’t want offers for paid stuff.
The Buyer Mindset
Free sampling is definitely not dead and neither is email marketing, but here’s something to consider. People who do those huge “launch campaigns” create a list by providing good content. The people who sign up do so with the expectation that they’ll receive marketing information about a great new product at the end.
These prospective buyers have a different mindset than someone who signs up for a freebie. They know the big sales pitch is coming and in many cases they actually want to hear it.
In contrast, the idea that you give away a freebie and people will “know, like, and trust you” enough to maybe buy someday is flawed. Freebie seekers are not necessarily buyers. In fact, I’d say most of them are not buyers.
It’s the same as the people in the grocery store who give away free sausages. You get a sample piece of sausage along with a coupon that encourages to pick up a package to take home. The Sausage Guy doesn’t put you on a list and send you a sausage newsletter for the next 3 years, hoping you’ll happen to remember his name while you’re in the meat aisle at the grocery store and finally buy a box.
The reality is that marketers are having to get a lot more creative with new lead generation. Throwing on opt-in box on a Web site and producing a good newsletter isn’t the easy answer it once was.
In my case, I am writing more content for my Web sites and writing guest articles for other people’s sites, so more people find me online. This approach isn’t new.
I’m still providing free information. But now the people who find my information are actually looking for it.
The same people who might have ignored my emails in their inbox for years, contact me now. Why? Because right now, they have a problem to solve and they’re in a buying mindset. I’m also marketing to existing customers and creating products at many different price points. Why? Because people who have bought from me have trusted me enough to open their wallets.
There’s a reason I still do the newsletter for the National Association of Pet Rescue Professionals. Again it’s about expectations and the reader mindset.
When people sign up, they become free members of the association. The newsletter is a member benefit. People view the newsletter almost like a product because they are members. People in that market (pet rescue groups) often don’t have enough money to pay for anything. But when they do, they can upgrade to a paid membership option. Much like the “launch campaign” prospects, free NAPRP members understand that I am going to mention the paid membership option. They are okay with it and expect it.
In business, you need to deliver exceptional value to your customers. Your customers are not people who have opted in to get a freebie. They are people who have purchased. It’s important to understand the difference.