Although the exact number varies from week to week, there are more than a billion websites in existence. Each and every day, you are competing with established giants as well as newcomers on the World Wide Web, all hoping for the attention of potential visitors.
Creating content regularly is key to attracting site visitors. In North America, over 90% of B2B marketers make content marketing a priority in their marketing initiatives — and that number has been on the rise since 2012. There are more websites than you could possible ever visit, but many of them are what you could consider abandoned websites. They are created, then nothing else happens there for months and sometimes years at a time.
Consistent New Content
If you want to not only attract an audience but keep that audience engaged, you have to offer them fresh content to read, and that content should be free. This is especially true for new readers. A new reader doesn’t know you or what information and knowledge you have to offer. They are very unlikely to pay for content they can get elsewhere for free without yet knowing the value it can add to their lives.
You are much better off giving away free content to engage and excite your readers, such as:
- A book or course that delves deeper into a specific topic. Not every piece of content has to be a full-length book.
- A beautiful photograph or some free icons your visitors can use.
Another option is to offer free software or an app your target audience would be interested in using. The free item needs to relate to your topic. For example, if you own a website that provides information to golfers on how to improve their stroke and you share a free app that tracks calories, then you really haven’t offered something your target audience is interested in.
On the other hand, if you own that same golf website and you offer a free app that tracks the force of the golfer’s swing and offers instant tips for improving form, then you have hit on something your target audience likely wants.
One example of this can be found on MailChimp. This site offers a free service where you can start to create a mailing list. A simple “Signup Free” button encourages visitors to give it a try. However, as the business and list grow, or if you want premium features, you will pay for those. This is a brilliant marketing move by MailChimp. It gets people using the product, familiar with it, and then you can add on and pay for special features or to add more subscribers.
Converting Visitors Into Regular Readers
Another reason to offer free content is you can turn a site visitor into a regular reader. Think about how many times you’ve gone to a website, and maybe even enjoyed some of the content there, but then you can’t quite remember the address of the site. You’ve bounced away from it never to return.
Now, think about websites you’ve visited where you were offered something free for signing up for a mailing list or providing your email. Chances are, if the freebie was interesting enough, you went ahead and signed up. That website owner now has your email and can reach out to you and let you know about:
- Additional free content
- Upcoming events
Free ebooks are a good thing to offer, but be sure that the content is something the visitor can’t already get free on your website. This should be content that is highly desirable and you would normally charge for. This will encourage visitors to sign up because they just can’t resist the free content you’re offering.
The free content should enhance other content offered on your website. A good example of this can be found at Good Soil Evangelism and Discipleship website. The site focuses on training people to share God's story of Redemption chronologically. The store offers a variety of publications to help you lead a study on this topic. What Good Soil does really well is offer free leader guides for visitors to download.
Don’t Limit Yourself to Ebooks
People are busy these days. The offer of a free ebook may not be as enticing as it once was. While you may still get subscribers by offering a book, you should also add additional offers throughout your website. While one visitor might sign up for your mailing list to receive the free ebook, another won’t be interested in the book. Some freebies you can offer:
- Video lesson series
- Cheat sheet that relates to your topic
- Free shipping for product purchases of a certain amount
- Free inspiration, daily quotes or idea starters
- List of hacks
A cheat sheet fits perfectly with today’s busy lifestyle. Whether you offer the cheat sheet in PDF format or on a blog, be sure to let the visitor know they can get updates on new cheat sheets as they are added by signing up for your mailing list.
One example of an excellent cheat sheet can be found on the blog Brown Eyed Baker. She offers a printable cheat sheet for measuring butter. This ties in perfectly to her niche topic of baking and reaches a target audience who may be looking for conversions for butter measurements for recipes. To the left is a simple box to “sign up for updates”. Readers will be much more likely to sign up for an update if you offer them something useful such as this.
Tradition of the Internet
When the internet first started, it was basically free information. It was a sort of online library. Over the years, it has morphed into a marketplace where it seems as though everyone is selling something or trying to make money off something. Offering free content gets back to the tradition of the internet and its foundations. It shows readers that you want to give them something and thus they will be more likely to give you something back — their loyalty.