Give away something for free? How can that possibly work as a business strategy to drive traffic? Surely it can't, can it? Not only does it work, but it is quickly becoming a marketing strategy used by thousands of corporations around the world.
The Free Service/Product Strategy
First, let's take a look at some of the history behind this strategy. It was something implemented by Gillette at the turn of the 20th Century. He had just invented disposable razors and blades, but despite an obvious need for them, sales were slow.
Gillette tried a range of marketing ploys, none of which seemed to work. He then started to give his razors away to other organizations – banks and the US Army amongst a host of others. What this led to was a demand for razor blades and Gillette's razor empire exploded!
As you can see, the free service/product strategy is not new. There is a catch, however. Whatever product or service you are giving away using a freemium business model must be highly valued by the customer. What this results in is a high customer satisfaction rating as well as word of mouth advertising as they tell others about it. This can often lead to viral exposure.
So how exactly does a freemium business model work? Well, let's take a look at the world of eBooks. Since the launch of the Kindle, the popularity of this book format has skyrocketed. With it, a host of authors are now able to self-publish their works. In fact, 31% of sales of e-books in the Amazon Kindle store are self-published books.
Many companies use this to their advantage. As experts in their field, they publish eBooks relating to their specific business. More importantly, these are available for free and are used to drive traffic back to the company website, or even to get potential customers to sign up to a mailing list, for example.
Kindle actually runs the ‘Kindle Direct Publish Program'. Here, an organization can apply to include their books. If accepted, it will become a Kindle Store exclusive for 90 days and it is entered into the Kindle Owner's Lending Library where it can be viewed for free.
As can be seen from this example, freemium business models can certainly be made to work for your company.
So what are the benefits of a freemium business model? Well, they are numerous!
First, by giving away something for free, you create a buzz. Social media plays a massive role here. Give someone a decent free gift and they will publicize it to their friends via their Facebook, Twitter, and other social media accounts. If it's free, people like it.
Second, you can get people to try your products or services in a risk-free way with out costing them a cent.
Third, it can be the 'hook' you need to help reel customers in. Not only that but once you have them, if you have what they want, they will keep coming back for more.
Fourth, it builds positive brand association. By giving someone something for free, they will build a positive association linked to your specific brand.
Lastly, it is a great way to help create a buying habit. Freebies not only attract people to your business, they often mean that customers are more susceptible to actually buying your products. This is especially true if they had a positive experience.
In conclusion, a freemium business model is a perfect way to drive traffic towards your organization's web presence and from there, the sky is the limit. While it may seem counter-intuitive to give anything away, it has proven to work time and time again.