How to Make Big Bucks While Selling Your Products for Free
Marketing funnels are very effective at converting your website visitors into paying customers, and savvy marketers are constantly looking for ways to increase one very important metric -- conversion rates.
There are several types of marketing funnels, and one that is gaining a lot of popularity is the free plus shipping model, which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. You offer a product for free and only charge for shipping. It’s an extremely effective way to upsell -- a customer is more likely to justify an additional purchase since they are receiving something for free.
Why does a ‘free plus shipping’ funnel perform so well?
It's simple: Consumers have a hard time turning down something for free. Now, not every customer is going to convert on the upsell, so it’s important to break even on your free plus shipping product offering (by making sure you make back your production costs and marketing on shipping charges), or at the very least experience a minimal loss.
Even if a customer doesn’t convert on the upsell, though, you still add a subscriber to your list that you can convert into more sales in the future. One of my side-ventures, a teeth-whitening brand, is about to launch a free plus shipping promotion. Here are the five components we used to maximize this strategy and create a successful funnel.
1. Determine where you are going to find your customers.
Your funnel will never be effective unless you are constantly pushing prospects through it, so it’s important to identify where you will find your customers and how you will lure them in. Paid social media is usually a great place to start.
In our situation, we are going to focus on Instagram, using a combination of paid ads and influencer marketing to draw attention to our offer. Consumers will be required to follow our account, like the post that is announcing the offer and tag three friends in the comments. Once those tasks are completed, they will be sent a coupon code to use on our website, bringing the cost of the product in the promotion down to $0.
2. Identify an ideal product to give away for free.
You want to identify a product that has a low manufacturing cost for two reasons. First, you will be giving it away for free, and second, you will need to manufacture a large quantity in bulk prior to launching your offer -- running out of product during a free plus shipping campaign would be disastrous. You also want to use a smaller item to keep your shipping cost down. A high in-store retail price is also important, as is mass market appeal.
For our offer, we will be giving away one of our teeth whitening pens. It’s small in size, has mass appeal and a high enough retail price to make a free offer irresistible. You never want to give away your main product, or the best-selling item in your inventory. Your free offer should always be something to trigger upsells, which brings us to the next point.
3. Match your free product with an irresistible upsell offer.
It’s important that you match your free product with a good upsell offer. The goal is to convert as many of your free plus shipping orders as possible, so it has to be a perfectly paired product.
Our product line is very simple. We have a teeth whitening kit, a teeth whitening pen and a combo that includes both. Since our free plus shipping offer is the teeth whitening pen, our upsell offer is the teeth whitening kit, giving the consumer the option to purchase our best-selling item at a discounted price.
4. Create an up-sell offer on your check-out page.
There are several plugins, apps and extensions that allow you to create an upsell offer. You will need to see what is available that’s compatible with your e-commerce platform, whether that is WordPress, Shopify, WooCommerce or something else.
You have a couple different options as to when you can present the offer -- either as the customer is adding your free plus shipping offer to the shopping cart or immediately after completing the purchase.
For our offer, we will be presenting customers with a one-click upsell, offered immediately after completing our free plus shipping offer. This way, we won’t scare off any consumers before they complete the initial offer that brought them to us. As soon as they complete the offer, a popup presents the upsell offer and allows them to claim it with a single click. There is no need to enter billing or payment information -- and since the upsell includes free shipping, there isn’t any barrier to prevent the consumer from claiming the offer instantly.
5. Promote your offer aggressively.
This goes full circle, back to the first point above -- where you are going to find your customers. It doesn’t matter what promotional vehicle you are going to use, from influencer marketing to social media marketing or something else -- you have to be prepared to promote your offer aggressively.
Most free plus shipping offers are for a very limited amount of time, so be sure to map out your entire marketing and promotion strategy in advance. A lot of it depends on the inventory available for the promotion. For our promo, we will be pushing it aggressively for 30-days, as we anticipate our on-hand supply will satisfy the demand.