The Good of Giving it Away
The phenomenon of downloads has gotten a lot of press that has indicated that people who seek to download things for free from the internet are stealing and are bad people. But the truth is that the internet was virtually built on the concept of free stuff and it is as much a part of the internet culture as email and domain names. But the internet didn’t invent the phenomenon that people like to get things for free. That is a part of human nature. The big question is whether you are going to moan about that and work against human nature to stop people from wanting free stuff or are you going to tap into that desire for free goodies for your marketing purposes.
Some of the most popular web sites there are have gotten that way because they give stuff away for free. A good example is YouTube. While visitors to YouTube generally do not download the videos, they can see them for free as often as they wish and at no cost to them at all. And the outcome is a web site that has enjoyed explosive traffic and made the YouTube creators very wealthy as a result.
Free downloads bridges the gap between marketing to customers where they are, which is what you do with email marketing or marketing to them where you are which is what you do on your web site. When a customer comes to your web site to see something interesting or to download the latest free give away you have to offer, they take that download to their own world. That download becomes viral and it can be used to take new customers back to the web site or to encourage them to make contact with you via email so you can expand your email mailing list as a result of one simple download.
Probably the reason tapping the natural instinct in customers to seek out something free from you is so successful is that it shifts the movement of marketing to the customer who wants to come to you rather than you forcing yourself on the customer. In that way downloads can become a clever and natural way to get around email delivery problems as a result of over zealous spam filters. By organizing downloads to tie in with email communications, you encourage customers to add your corporate email address to their favored contacts list. They will want to get your emails in the future so they can hear about the next download.
When you become dependable to give away desirable downloads to your regulars, the word of that activity will spread like wildfire through the user community. You can encourage that recruitment momentum by offering existing members of your online community additional free stuff if they pass an invitation email along to a friend. By adding fuel to the fire of the download fever, you are using that natural energy of online customers to get things for free to expand your marketing base and resolve your email delivery problems all in one simple marketing step.
The funny thing about using downloads in this way is that the thing you are giving away really doesn’t have to have a huge value to you in the first place. It might be a digital ebook you own that long ago lost its marketing value as a sales item. But by giving it away, it suddenly becomes hidden treasure to your customers. You can also give away a something from your catalog of products on your shopping cart pages. For the cost of one item, you will harvest a wealth of new customers and generate web traffic and new sales that will more than pay for the promotion.