View Full Version : Free products
Grith - WPW
09-27-2004, 07:23 AM
Does an e-commerce site benefit from offering freebies? Does it help promote the products, close the sale or is it just a case of shooting yourself in the foot? Someone suggested that we should make an e-book to give away for free online as it would encourage people to buy the real book later.
Do you agree or disagree?
09-27-2004, 09:45 AM
I think freebies could definitely help to promote businesses. I.e. you could use a freebie to convince your visitors to sign your Newsletter, this would increase your signup-rate.
Since I offer a free e-book and free software in my website, the number of sign-ups increased at least by 50%. There are thousands of Newsletters on the web, so it is a "competitive advantage".
Furthermore you could "brand" your freebies with links to your business or products and take advantage of "viral marketing". If your freebies are valuable, they will start to spread out and carry your own links to future customers.
Additionally, you could add them to your product to increased the "perceived value" of your offer. It is very common by internet market products that they are acomplished by a long list of Free Bonuses.
I will visit your website soon and see what do you have to offer for free (;-)
Grith - WPW
09-27-2004, 12:27 PM
Hi Alex, thanks for that feedback - any advice is helpful and I'll be sure to let you know when the e-book is ready so that you can give it a test run ;¬)
09-27-2004, 02:29 PM
Are you talking about the entire book(e-book) ?
If that's so, then why would they buy the book?
Maybe 1 chapter... or some excerpts, perhaps
Grith - WPW
09-28-2004, 04:53 AM
Cyanide, that is a very good question, because that was my first reaction as well - why buy the book when you can have it as an e-book for free? Our e-business marketing consultant assures us that when people get a free e-book then the majority will then want to buy the hardcopy subsequently. I guess it should be argued that by buying the hard copy of the book you will get the lovely illustrations in a bigger format and the added benefit of being able to play the CD anywhere at anytime you wish i.e. in the car, on a personal discman, on the hi-fi in the kids' room etc.
What has actually happened is that we are producing an e-book containing just one of the stories from the book (the book actually contains three stories in all). We hope that by giving away a whole story people will download it and then when they have heard it buy the book which contains the other two stories as well. But perhaps that is giving too much away?
09-28-2004, 02:20 PM
I'd have to agree with cyanide. Giving away one out of three stories is a bit much for a freebie. Especially when that is your main product. Maybe give away a tease on a couple at most. Hollywood nor Bollywood will let you go see a movie for free, in hopes of you buying the DVD.
Our e-business marketing consultant assures us that when people get a free e-book then the majority will then want to buy the hardcopy subsequently.
Not necessarily so. Been there done that. I give free Creole recipes on my site at CreoleMan.com. For a couple of years the site enjoyed top 1-7 ranking from Yahoo, DMOZ, Jeeves, and MSN for terms like creole recipes, oyster recipes, crawfish etouffee, and others. This was organic placement, and the traffic was great. The oyster recipe page had been my best traffic, so I compiled an e-book of 50 oyster recipes. Started out at $5 and ended at $3.50. Not a problem, if only enough e-books would sell.
After months of slow sales, and feedback from visitors as a result of email and phone follow ups with newsletter subscribers, I learned that the majority came for just what I offered. Free creole recipes. Not much else. Had I started as a pay for complete access model, the oyster recipe venture could have been more successful. The oyster recipes have since been retired until a later date.
Don't give away so much that the temptation to buy is satisfied.
Best of luck,
09-28-2004, 09:36 PM
Unfortunately, I don't agree with your consultant.
You're heading into dangerous territory. You need to tread carefully and really, your consultant should have thought of something more unique and eye-catching than just giving away a free book.
Sorry, no offence.
There are bargain-hunters everywhere and there's nothing wrong with that, but then you get the group just underneath... the cheap-skates.
When you start offering things for free, especially if it's your main product... people take notice, that's for sure, but then when you ask for money? ... huge drop off.
And more importantly, what kind of value are placing on your product by offering it or 1/3 of it for free?
Why not offer something for free to go with the book, like a bookmark... okay, maybe that's been done to death, but you get the idea.
A few years ago, Steven King did something unique when launching his newest novel. He offered it as an e-book but people could buy and download per chapter, not the whole book. $1 or $2 per chapter
Grith - WPW
09-29-2004, 09:56 AM
Hi Rick, thanks for your feedback, it is always good to get the low down on what has and hasn't worked for people who have been down the route you are planning to go.
"I give free Creole recipes on my site at CreoleMan. com. For a couple of years the site enjoyed top 1-7 ranking from Yahoo, DMOZ, Jeeves, and MSN for terms like creole recipes, oyster recipes, crawfish etouffee, and others. This was organic placement, and the traffic was great."
Did you start out planning to make money on your recipes or was it an after thought as you noticed the fabulous traffic it generated? We are not planning to advertise the fact that you can get the e-book for free, in fact our adwords have free as a negative keyword at the moment.
We do not seek to generate traffic using the free ebook. These will be the wrong kind of people. We hope to use it to positively persuade people who would otherwise not buy because they swither as to whether or not our unusual book is right for their children.
"Don't give away so much that the temptation to buy is satisfied."
I know what you are saying but, at the moment, the problem quite frankly is that we aren't selling anything anyway. People are visiting the site but not buying. If people visit the site, they find the free e-book and download it, then at least we can see that there is some interest in what we have to offer.
I shall be posting our website in the forum for website reviews shortly, perhaps that will generate more clues to why people have not been buying the book so far.
Thanks again for the feedback it is appreciated.
Grith - WPW
09-29-2004, 10:33 AM
Hi Cyanide, I appreciate all the points you mention and I particularly agree with you that it is indeed a very fine line to tread to give away something for free.
"A few years ago, Steven King did something unique when launching his newest novel. He offered it as an e-book but people could buy and download per chapter, not the whole book. $1 or $2 per chapter"
I think your mention of the Steven King story is very interesting, I heard about that too. However, I also heard that the 'buy the book per chapter' websales never really worked for him on the scale he had hoped and that he chose to go back to his publisher in the end. I guess you can speculate on why this would be the case. My own guess would be that although people like the Steven Kings novels, sales would be hampered by the fact that you had to wait for the next installment of the story. Arguably you could of course wait and would in the end be able to buy the whole thing which is what most people do indirectly anyway when they buy a book. Another guess is that the Steven King website did not carry as much promotional force as a major heavy weight publisher who can get bookshops to put up posters and arrange other promotional offers and thereby make a lot more money from sales for themselves and their author.
But also lastly and perhaps most importantly, publishing industry research has shown that people who like and read books buy books not just for the content but because they like the traditional value of books if you know what I mean. A lot of readers like to see the book sitting on their bookshelf and value this traditional format. I am not saying that with the new generations of children growing up e-books are not going to become more accepted, but I still hope that for some generations to come there will be people who think that the hard copy is worth investing in.
Do I sound like I am stuck in the 20th century??? ; ¬ )
Perhaps I am, but if I'm wrong then I, as a publisher of hard copy books, don't have a very good future to look forward to.
09-29-2004, 10:53 AM
I read books when I find time, but I hate e-books. It is a thoroughly unpleasant way to go blind! I might buy a hardcopy after seeing a chapter on a site, but I would not buy on just the title.
09-29-2004, 12:50 PM
In answer to your question
Did you start out planning to make money on your recipes or was it an after thought as you noticed the fabulous traffic it generated?
The thought of trying to market the recipes was a very late after thought. Done on the fly, with no real plan in place. Actually the give away mentality is still too deeply ingrained in me.
I know what you are saying but, at the moment, the problem quite frankly is that we aren't selling anything anyway.
If you just have to give something away, and you're not doing it already, you might consider a marketing scheme where you do give away your product to local and regional child care and day care facilities, preschool and elementary schools. Or give away demonstrations of your product. IMO, giving away your product in this manner would have a more positive effect (viral marketing). The word of mouth endorsement should really be a boost to sales.
You stated that you would post the website for review. Is thefairytalecompany.com not the product? If it is, then you have a very attractive product.
09-30-2004, 02:20 AM
Yes, good point about Steven King. Admittedly, I didn't know what the success rate was. But, it seemed an interesting concept.
And, I definitely understand the traditional value of books -no doubt about it.
hmmm... I neglected to ask also
What is the URL ? Is it www.thefairytalecompany.com ?
If it is, I have a suggestion
You have some nice pictures and a description to go with... but
there's nothing really there that grabs my attention and urges me to take action
Grith - WPW
09-30-2004, 06:35 AM
Hi Cyanide, yes our URL is www.thefairytalecompany.com.
We are a publishing company who have so far produced one title, 'Classics One' but if sales improve then we plan to produce more titles as part of our classics range.
"You have some nice pictures and a description to go with... but there's nothing really there that grabs my attention and urges me to take action"
I cannot begin to tell you how long we have been looking for that magic attention grabbing phrase that will urge people to take action and go to buy the book! If I knew what it was then we certainly wouldn't be giving anything away for free I can assure you.
It is frustrating when you have a good product (people who have bought it for their children and kids themselves love it) that nobody seems to want to buy when they visit the website. I am very aware that we are doing something very wrong or at least missing one or perhaps two vital ingredients.
I have deliberately delayed the posting of the website for review because I read through a lot of the threads for the different promotions and marketing strategies and realised that we still had a lot or work to do.
I cannot talk about the knots and bolts that make up the site only the 'make-up' if you like i.e. the layout, design, and content of the site. To this effect we have recently posted some changes. We have added a Testimonials Page to try to create trust (not fully updated yet), a News & Links page. On the Home Page you can now find a synopsis of each of the stories that appear in the book and on the CD (we did this to try to give people a taster of what to expect), we changed our bullet list of selling points on the Home Page to make it more obvious why you should buy the product (coloured it to make it stand out).
We have an Activities/Kids Page planned where people will be able to download other little freebies like printouts of various characters from the stories and a little flash animation of a game etc.
After posing a question regarding currency we now also plan to at least show the price in other currencies so as not to alienate any potential customers.
Now you may say - yes well this is all very well, but there is still nothing there which urges me to buy! Okay then, well I am all ears and being very sincere when I say that I am happy to take onboard any suggestions you might have, regarding what would create such an urge. I recently bounced our list of selling points with various people and they all seemed to think that the list gives plenty of reasons why you should buy this product (admittedly it has only been posted live on the site in the last 24 hours). What do you think? Would any of these points make you even consider buying an audio book (if you had or knew any children that is :¬) )
Lastly we had to start with a big button on the Homepage that said 'Buy Now' which took you into our shop but someone somewhere said that this places an urgency on people to buy which they dislike. Now you tell me what I am doing so wrong that people leave through our shop in droves without putting the book or CD in their basket.
As I said, all advice is warmly welcomed.
Grith - WPW
09-30-2004, 06:48 AM
"I might buy a hardcopy after seeing a chapter on a site, but I would not buy on just the title."
Thanks for your comment - what you say is exactly why we decided to post a synopsis of the stories a while back and then subsequently we thought of giving away one of the stories from the book as a free e-book. The e-book is only meant as a teaser and a taster and it only lasts 15 minutes speaking in terms of audio time in Real Player, so no longer than it might take you to read a chapter in a normal book.
Do you think the synopsis' that we have on the site are enough to let people make informed decisions about the audio book (note we also have sound samples available at the bottom of the Home page) or do you think that one full story in the format of an e-book as described above would be more likely to make you buy the real book subsequently?
Grith - WPW
09-30-2004, 07:20 AM
Hi Rick, thanks for getting back to me. It is very interesting to note that you did your e-book as an after thought and that we are doing an e-book because we are desperate (I shouldn't really say that I know - people want to deal with success not failure!)
"If you just have to give something away, and you're not doing it already, you might consider a marketing scheme where you do give away your product to local and regional child care and day care facilities, preschool and elementary schools. Or give away demonstrations of your product."
We certainly do not want to give away the product (see reply to Cyanide), we have a lot of money invested in this venture and if it does not work then we are in a pretty bad situation. We cannot therefore afford to give away anything unless it is going to make us money in the end.
Naturally the website is only one side of our business, albeit still a very important one, as this is where we most easily reach our customers and sell with a profit to them. We also sell through shops but naturally get a much lower profit this way.
We are already in the process of creating a demonstration of our product to take to primary schools which is our target market. The mere bureaucracy is something of a nightmare (that is another story), but nevertheless we shall carry on regardless and see if we cannot get a foot in the door with schools to do demonstrations which will then hopefully lead to sales.
"The word of mouth endorsement should really be a boost to sales."
This is what we are hoping for with people purchasing off the website and telling all their chums and pals about this great book and CD - only there are no sales!
"Is thefairytalecompany.com not the product? If it is, then you have a very attractive product."
The product is an audio book, a hardback book that comes with a CD, which is sold through our website www.thefairytalecompany.com. And thanks for your kind words - your a star for saying that! If that is really the case then why are people not buying the product? I don't mean why do you not buy obviously, but why do other people with children not buy? - we are clearly doing something wrong, but what?
Thanks again for your answers - it has been really helpful.
09-30-2004, 09:36 AM
Hi again Grith,
I was serious about your product. The artwork is quite attractive, and I'm waiting for the weekend to test my grand daughter's reaction to it.
While exploring the site and information further, I realized that I would normally visit a domain and website like yours with my granddaughter. The synopsis for Jack the Dullard and The Tenderbox, as written, would not hold her attention. I'd like to read a synopsis to her that will make her want to know the rest of the story. The Swineherd synopsis reads better for a child's product.
I'm not a web designer, and don't like to make suggestions to others about their's. So take this with a grain of salt. I would like to see the MP3 Sample buttons above the fold on the homepage, and included on the synop pages. Just my preference.
The audio clips sound great. Both the sound quality and voice talent are very good. I can see and hear your investment.
Lauching a new product is difficult, but you know that already. Keep pounding the ground, and getting the word out about your product. That's the best I can offer.
Grith - WPW
10-01-2004, 05:18 AM
What you are saying about the MP3's is helpful and so is the fact that the synopsis of the stories are not interesting enough - I'll have to go away and try to make them more so!
Thanks for the feedback - good stuff!
11-06-2004, 02:17 AM
I give this with any order from my website http://www.energyray.com -
it helps !!!!