I must admit that I learned about list building really the hard way than anything else with blogging. Building email lists is a tricky process.
Believe me, although there are lots of “email marketing rules” they don’t work always! They just don’t.
That’s why not everyone succeeds with email marketing. I’m not being pessimistic here – but lets face the truth.
The problem is there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution to email marketing and list building. Every blog is different in terms of niche, voice, authority and audience/readership.
So it becomes really different with every blog when it comes to a list building strategy. One of the most important things that I want to focus on this blog post is this:
Using a freebie to encourage blog visitors to subscribe to newsletter/join the list.
Now this is a very debatable question, not everyone likes the concept of offering a freebie and not everyone hates it either; as I just said every blogger has different plans with their blogging business.
Why is this a debatable question? What is the problem with offering a freebie? Or not offering one? Let’s break it down.
Offering a freebie as an incentive to subscribe
I do this on my blog (as of now) and I know many of my blogging pals and A-listers doing the same, for instance Copyblogger does this too. They offer a free email course as an incentive to join their list.
The biggest problem with offering a freebie is that it attracts crowd. And, there is a very good chance that a large portion of this “crowd” could only be interested in your “freebie”. Of course there’s nothing wrong with them being that way!
As a result, most people get attracted by the freebie, subscribe to your list, download the freebie and unsubscribe right away. Or if it is an e-course or something which cannot be downloaded on one go, they’ll just wait until all of it is delivered and then they might subscribe.
I know, this is a crude part of the story. And I hear you saying “if your emails are good enough, they’ll stay”. But believe me, there’s still a good percentage of people who don’t care how good your emails are. All they want is the freebie! And then they don’t want their inbox to be perturbed.
But that’s just a portion of them; not too big to ruin any list building strategy. But big enough to cause some minor defects in the crystal.
Not offering a freebie
I see a lot of blogs don’t offer anything to subscribe. All they say is “Subscribe to get free updates”. That’s it? That’s it!
But they’re not out of business. They’re indeed doing great and most of them are A-listers who don’t bother to make an enticing offer to make you subscribe.
Now this is where I stopped to think. Should a newbie blogger continue to offer freebie as an incentive to boost their subscription rate in the beginning? And then once things pick up momentum and the blog is establish, can he or she cut off the freebie to join their list?
I’ve asked some the experts and here is their opinion –
Danny Iny from Firepole Marketing.com
The most obvious “pro” is that if you offer something for free, more people will want to sign up than if you don’t. Which is great, right? But actually, there’s an even better reason to give something away for free, and that is to show subscribers what you’re really about, start building a relationship with them, and move in the direction of an eventual transaction. That’s the real benefit of the freebie, if you use it properly.
On the “con” side, there’s the issue that the better your freebie, the more “content hoarders” you’ll get signing up – people who collect every bit of free content that they can, but hardly read any of it, don’t come back to your site, and complain when you send them email. That’s just par for the course, but still pretty annoying.
My advice to new bloggers would be to hold off on the freebie for a little while, because it’s only going to work if they’re giving away something that people really want. In other words, if you slap together a quick “7 secrets” e-book, it isn’t going to impress anybody, or do anything for your business. So start by writing on your blog, and others, and see what people respond to, and what issues they’re facing. Then create your freebie. Something they’ll want.
Kristi from Kikolani.com
I think that having a large mailing list can definitely be lucrative, and using freebies to entice people to subscribe is a great way to build your list. The upside is obviously getting a lot more subscribers than you would without the freebie. The downside is that people might sign up for the freebie, but never pay attention to the emails. I was notorious for doing this – I would subscribe, download the freebie, then filter all of the emails. So essentially, you might end up paying for subscribers on your mailing list that may not really be reading your emails. Of course, you may also get a lot of people who will read your emails through the use of the freebie which would make it a worthwhile trade off.
Brankica from BlogLikeAStar.com
I had a freebie until recently and it is a great way to get more subscribers, but in the long run, I think it is better not to have one. I removed mine a few weeks ago and experienced only a slight drop in new subscription numbers. However, the open rates are up because people are genuinely interested in the information I am sending out and not just the freebie. A lot of times, people will download the freebie, never open it and never open another email of yours. So I would vote for no freebie because it will keep those are not really interested in your newsletter away.
Ileane from Basic Blog Tips
I started building an email list recently and I had to ask myself this question – Should I create a freebie as bait in order to get people to sign up? Personally I rarely sign up for email lists, and when I do end up getting freebies (mostly ebooks) it seems that I never have time to go back and read them. So I decided against it for my own list. What’s really important to me, and my subscribers find this out right away, is that I offer people something that they won’t find on my blog. First of all, my subscribers get to ask me an open-ended question – they can ask me anything they want advice on, from soup to nuts. This way people are less intimated and they don’t need to leave an “off topic” comment on a blog post. I respond to them one-on-one and they get my personal attention in a confidential atmosphere. I’ve already had some wonderful exchanges with a few of my readers and I can tell you that it goes a long way towards building a relationship and a connection that’s much more memorable and engaging than you can imagine. I also make sure my subscribers get access to exclusive content that is created just for them based on the questions and discussions we have. This is working out great so far and I don’t feel the need to create an ebook in order to build my list. If it sounds good to you, you can sign up for tips from Ms. Ileane here.
On to you….
I’d like to hear your opinion on this. What do you think about offering freebies for subscription? Is it good or bad? Do you offer freebies to build your list? Why or Why not?
Please share your views in the comments.