Free as a Marketing Strategy

Here are 5 ways that free can work as part of the marketing strategy mix
1. Use free digital products to gain customer information
One tried and tested method to increase newsletter subscriptions, social media engagement and customer information acquisition is to give away free eBooks, podcasts, training videos or digital content on your website. In return for providing a name and email address (or Twitter/Facebook follow) visitors get a free product. Because it's digital, it costs you nearly next-to-nothing to distribute and now you've got their details to follow up with and try to sell them something else.
2. Give free trials to let people experience a product
LoveFilm offer a one month DVD rental trial, to allow people to experience their product cost-free. They do this because their service does not solve an immediately obvious problem, and so the barrier-to-purchase is much higher. Making it free removes that barrier, and, as users have to sign-up with a credit card to begin with, many simply continue to pay.
3. Provide free versions of a product to persuade people to upgrade to a premium
A common feature of the internet-era, providing 'freemium' or basic versions of a service for free allows you to gain a large user-base quickly. Then, those who want more features can pay for a premium or advanced version. Companies such as Evernote are a great example of this. Those that upgrade tend to be the minority, sometimes only 5% or less. Yet, as digital products cost very little to run, this can often be more than enough to sustain the business and keep it profitable. 
4. Offer free extras with a purchase
People love getting good value for money, and marketers often provide psychological incentives to purchase through the addition of free add-ons. Buy a laptop, get a free case. Buy a car, get free breakdown cover. Simple accessories can become powerful motivators, without excessive cost. More often than not, you can agree a partnership with a relevant company who will even pay you to distribute their product for free alongside yours. Ever seen those vouchers that come in Amazon deliveries?
5. Give free samples to spread the word
Free samples are given out by hundreds of companies as a way to get people to talk about their brand and products (for example, take a look at these freebies). They provide an opportunity for people to try your product, and if they like it, they may well become lifelong brand advocates. It's also a great way to receive customer feedback during a product development stage, or get people involved during the early moments of your company's growth. 
This blog post was written by Tom Church, Director of Marketing for Latest Free Stuff, the UK's biggest freebie site.


photo credit: an untrained eye via photopin cc

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