When to Include a Free Offer as part of Your Campaign

Considering a free offer in your ad, but unsure of what it should be, or even if you should have one at all?

I can’t think of a time where being generous was a bad idea. On the other hand, if your budget can’t support a giveaway, or worse, your goal can’t be reached using one, don’t feel pressured to incorporate freebies into your campaign.

Note: I would normally refer to this concept as a “giveaway”, but I’ve discovered many are defining giveaways as an opportunity in which one person is randomly chosen to win something… last time I checked, that’s a contest. In any case, what I’m referring to is a free offer where every qualified entry actually receives the promised item.

So how do you determine if a free offer is right for your campaign and ultimately your organization?

1.) Determine what you hope to accomplish:

  • Do you desire more leads?
  • Views of your video?
  • Downloads?
  • Or do you desire less leads with only a handful of highly qualified prospects?

2.) Examine the “why”:

This isn’t just a shot at a good PR move. Free offers help you benefit on several fronts. In some cases they can allow your prospects to get a taste of your product/service. As you can imagine, this creates a comfort level for the potential buyer. For others, capturing a lot of attention with an item that’s very enticing (“free android tablet!”) can certainly generate a huge response.

You guessed it, the latter option and benefit can be a catch 22 — how many of those inquiries simply wanted the gift? So that begs the question…

3.) What should you give away?

One of the best ways to accomplish a high quantity of leads that are also more qualified is by having the free offer coincide directly with your product.

  • Is there a part of the process within your service your prospects can experience?
  • Can you provide one section of a series for them to view?
  • Do you know of a strategic partner that has a related item that could serve as your free offer – they benefit from the exposure/branding while you capture the leads? Example: a nursery paging company that wants to attract more CE Directors, but doesn’t necessarily have anything to give away. So they reach out to a friend in the business that offers activity worksheets for preschoolers who might be willing to give away samples to those who inquire about the paging company. Win-Win. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

For the company that has a low cost item, ROI should most likely determined by the quantity of leads and top of mind exposure the free offer provided. It grows their house list while creating a perfect environment for lead nurturing and, even better, promoting similar products in the future!

For the high ticket item that requires only a handful of sales to produce desirable return, free offers might be more trouble than they’re worth. You could find yourself sifting through thousands of unqualified leads instead of designing the best ad with a powerful CTA to attract the right prospects.

Success Story
One of the most successful campaigns we’ve seen in Pastor Resources that included a free offer was when one of our advertisers allowed our audience the opportunity to choose one of several options (e.g., “Choose one of 5 free books!”) Letting your readers select from several gifts can provide significantly more leads, not just because it’s a more attractive offer, but because it broadens both your demographic and addresses a wider range of needs — ultimately being more inclusive.