Much of the effectiveness of B2B freebies in content marketing comes down to reciprocity.
Reciprocity is one of the six scientifically-verified principles of persuasion and is based on the idea that humans feel obliged to return a kindness or favour given first by another person.
This works in social situations but is also a proven marketing tactic.
Giving away something valuable for free helps businesses to build trust with their prospects or further develop relationships with existing customers.
Freebies are an effective lead magnet – a marketing term which refers to products or services given away for free as a way to gather contact details, creating strong sales leads for the company to follow up on.
It is worth bearing in mind that modern audiences can be wary of freebies because their inboxes are full of offers and freebies that turn out to be worthless.
However, if you get to know your audience first and offer them something of real value, freebies are a proven way to ensure that prospects continue on through your sales funnel.
What is B2B content marketing?
Content marketing is where businesses use content such as blogs, articles, eBooks, white papers, videos, social media marketing, podcasts, and so on to attract new prospects, generate leads and make sales.
In a B2B market, content marketing is important because it creates an opportunity for businesses to demonstrate to potential customers that they have appropriate industry knowledge and expertise, as well as a product/service that will benefit the customer.
Content marketing is a cost-effective form of advertising thanks to the low cost of producing and disseminating content and the relatively high return on investment (ROI) seen from these campaigns.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing sees three times as many leads as paid search advertising and is significantly cheaper to implement.
What is freebie marketing?
Freebie marketing is, as the name suggests, an approach wherein a company gives away a free item or resource to prospects or customers in an effort to encourage them to make a purchase.
The B2B sales cycle is the process a B2B customer goes through as they go from being a stranger to your company and products/services, all the way through to making a purchase.
It tends to follow three separate stages of sale for the customer, as they get to know and trust your business:
- Awareness: the buyer realises that they have a problem,
- Consideration: the buyer researches solutions and compares their options, and
- Decision: the buyer knows what they want and is comparing vendors or service providers.
You want to think about deploying your freebie marketing strategy from around stage two as a way to raise awareness of your business and show potential customers the value of what you are offering them.
The most common type of freebie is a complementary product, usually offered by retailers as a sample to encourage customers to buy the same product in the future.
Alternatively it could be an accessory for a larger item as an incentive to buy (such as getting free insurance with a large electrical purchase).
Freebie marketing doesn’t have to be about products, however.
There are lots of low-cost options that offer value to customers in a B2B market, such as eBooks, whitepapers and free trials (more on this below).
How to create a freebie content marketing strategy
Creating a freebie marketing strategy means giving something away to customers that is valuable enough to make it worth their while but not so valuable that it lessens what your products are worth.
Before you start, decide what the objectives of your freebie marketing strategy are.
Do you want people to sign up for your service or make a purchase? Or are you just looking to raise awareness?
The goal of your strategy will decide the types of freebies you give away and how your content marketing campaigns will support this.
Make sure that you have researched your audience and have a good understanding of who you are targeting.
Many businesses find it useful to create detailed buyer personas before they start marketing, to define what will draw their attention, what they will find valuable and how to speak to them in a way that is relevant.
You don’t want to try to give freebies away to anyone that will have them – instead your freebie should be chosen because your target audience either wants or needs it.
As an example, if a bookshop offers a discount to their customers this could work well.
However, a discount on educational books, sent to new students during Fresher’s Week, would see significantly better returns.
Marketing freebie ideas
The best way to get ideas for freebies to give away is to start with the end goal.
Decide what it is that you want your target audience to buy from you and then come up with a freebie that directs them to do so.
The best freebie for your business will always be something that your audience needs and can use immediately – but also gives them just enough to make them want to come back for more.
Content is a low-cost, valuable freebie for the B2B sector that your audience can download, use, and keep.
They can access it immediately and it feels more exclusive than a blog post or public video, triggering the customer’s impulse to reciprocate.
- basic PDF guides or eBooks that give a taster of the full product,
- coupons and discounts,
- reports and cheat sheets,
- trial subscriptions, and
- ‘freemium’ products (where the basic product is free and customers only pay to use premium features)
Marketing freebies – how to deliver a freebie
There are many ways for B2B companies to deliver content marketing freebies so you can choose the way that makes the most sense for your audience and budget.
MailChimp is an email marketing platform that allows you to input your customer list and schedule email marketing campaigns to go out to specific customers and segments automatically.
Because MailChimp features in-built analytics software it is easy for businesses to track the success of their campaigns.
Measuring how many people opened and clicked on your email, as well as those who converted, is essential in a freebie marketing campaign as it helps you to understand which approach works best.
Link on webpage
Research has found that multi-channel B2B marketing campaigns see an average increase of 24% in ROI (return on investment).
A multi-channel approach means contacting your prospects (or having them contact you) across a range of channels (email, telemarketing, social media etc).
This builds familiarity and trust between the customer and your business.
Providing a freebie link or download on your website that you direct prospects to from an email or telemarketing campaign is a great way to persuade customers to visit your website.
Instead of individual free downloads you can send a link to a password-protected page on your website.
This is works well if you have a lot of free content you would like to make available to prospects or perhaps as an incentive for a customer to make a purchase.
A resource library also allows you to strategically demonstrate expertise in your field and deliver significant value to prospects..
However, this method of delivery is not trackable outside of who you have sent the link to.
This means that you won’t be able to tell what content the prospect was originally interested in or who actually clicks through to the page making it difficult to perform in-depth campaign analytics.
Benefits of freebie content marketing
Freebie content marketing helps your business to:
Increase your client database
Freebie marketing is often used as a way to add prospects to your existing or bought-in database.
Asking people to fill out a form with a few basic details in order to receive something for free is low-commitment and high-reward for your customers.
Once you have contact details for prospects you can use email marketing campaigns and newsletters to continue to deliver value, reinforcing the positive feelings a potential customer has for your business by making your content worthwhile and authoritative.
Always make sure that you offer an unsubscribe button at the end of any email newsletters you send out.
Increase your visibility
Free products, offers or trials significantly improve brand recognition and the visibility of your products/services because people tend to share them with their extended networks without much prompting.
Some freebie content marketing campaigns offer a free product or service when a customer tags or shares a post or email with friends.
In the case of cloud hosting service Dropbox, their referral programme offered users an extra 500mb free storage for every friend they referred. In 15 months Dropbox grew from 100,000 users to 4,000,000 users – and permanently increased signups by 60%.
As awareness of your business increases, so too should your web traffic, customer database and, as a result of this, sales.
Fashion retailer Girlfriend Collective gave away one pair of leggings in their freebie marketing campaign, which saw 10,000 orders on the first day of the campaign and was so successful that the company extended the campaign for an extra month.
An effective B2B freebie content marketing strategy is a fast-track to increased sales for many businesses. This makes it a useful option for those starting out or looking to break into a new market.
The three stages of B2B freebies
There are three stages to the B2B buyer’s journey:
- Awareness stage – this is when a prospect realises that they have a problem that requires a solution,
- Consideration stage – the prospect defines their problems and researches their options, and
- Decision stage – the prospect chooses a solution and makes a purchase.
At each stage of the buyer’s journey your business may implement your freebie content marketing strategy.
However, the freebies that you offer will depend on where the potential buyer is in the buyer’s journey.
Awareness stage freebies
Before a potential customer is aware of your business, the freebies you offer should be as valuable and useful to them as possible.
New leads are unlikely to be tempted by insignificant discounts or content downloads that they could find elsewhere online so a significant free trial, full-sized product or a full eBook are the right choice for this stage.
Consideration stage freebies
Once you have opened a dialogue with a prospect, freebies can be less significant but should be more frequent.
A great way to keep a prospect ‘on the hook’ is to deliver a series of freebies that follow small conversions as they move through your sales funnel.
Use your email newsletter to provide regular discounts and offers or offer free content to your followers on social media, for example.
Decision stage freebies
By the decision stage your prospects already have a real interest in your products or services so a freebie should be related to the product/service you are trying to persuade them to buy.
Free installation, how-to guides and free accessories for a larger product are all small freebies that can make a big impact when you are convincing a prospect that your business is the right one for them to choose.
What could you get in return?
In return for the freebies you offer to your prospects, your business should see wider reach and increased visibility.
Even in a B2B market, people tend to share offers and freebies with their networks, meaning that your own audience takes care of much of your marketing for you.
If you give away free downloads and resources in return for contact details you can significantly increase your contact database, giving you a wider pool of prospects to target in your direct marketing campaigns.
Finally, choosing a freebie that demonstrates your knowledge and expertise in your industry helps to position you as an authority so that, even if prospects don’t make a purchase, they will remember your name and be warmer to your business if they come across it later on.
Developing your B2B freebies strategy with More Than Words
More Than Words’ team is comprised of sales and marketing professionals with decades of collective experience, making us a great choice for building your content marketing strategy and delivering content marketing campaigns.
Our in-house copywriters are available to create any SEO-optimised, compelling copy that you need, including articles, blogs, website content and even product descriptions.
Get in touch to find out how we can help you to incorporate freebie marketing into your content marketing strategy and significantly improve the number of leads and sales you generate from your campaigns.
You can call us on 0330 010 3495 or you can click here to email us.