Your FREE email opt-in offer, is not really free… So stop pretending like it is.


I was browsing a couple online marketing forums the other day, and a number of threads jumped out at me.
They were all asking similar questions, like…

“Why aren’t people signing up for my email list? I’m giving away free stuff (a free report, free ebook, free sample, etc.) Doesn’t everybody want free stuff?”


Well, most experienced marketers already know the answer to this question.

But, for anyone (and everyone) who’s asking this type of question, let me answer it for you right now…


NO! You are NOT giving me anything for “free.”


For starters, you’re asking me to pay for it with my valuable time, attention, and energy. Then you want me to pay even more, by giving you my personal info (usually just my name and email address) but it’s still mine, and you want me to give it to you.


So here’s the thing… Your “free” offer, needs to be worth my “valuable” time and effort.

And when I land on your page, you’ve got about 3 seconds to convince me!

Ready… set… GO!

3… 2… 1… TIMES UP!


Now, one of two things just happened…


1) I’ve already clicked away, because your offer either didn’t interest me, or it looks the same as 1,000,000 other “me too” offers, promoting similar things. (Game over)


– Or –


2) Your “headline, opening, and offer” got my attention. So I guess you’ve earned another few seconds of my time. And (maybe) my email address.

But keep in mind, if your page is just an “opt-in landing page” that has little more than a headline, a couple bullet points, and a sign up form; You’re only getting my “throw away” email address. (you know, the one I use to sign up for freebies. But rarely ever check)
So your freebie better be damn good, if you want me to continue reading your emails on a regular basis.

On the other hand, if your page has more content (other than just a sign-up form) then the content itself needs to be valuable. Remember, I’m already paying you with my time and attention, so the more you want me to spend… the more value you need to give me in exchange.
On the plus side, if I think I can trust you to provide value… You just might get my “good” email address.


Also remember, when I give you my contact info, that doesn’t mean I love you. That simply means we’re at the “beginning” of a value exchange relationship.


You see, everything in business, is a value exchange.

In your business, the ultimate exchange is when I give you my money, and I get something in return that makes my life better.

It could be a product or service that…

– Entertains me (and lets me forget my day-to-day routine for a while)…

– Provides a solution to a problem I’m having (or makes my life better in some way)…

– Let’s me donate to a good cause (so I can feel good about helping people).

– And the list goes on.


But the point is this; A value exchange is when I give you something, and I get something in return, and everybody benefits.


Now back to our example of an email campaign. To simplify it for the sake of brevity (because this post is already getting a bit lengthy) I’ll break it down for you, in a few broad strokes…


1)  I give you a few moments of my time… You give me hope that your offer can improve my life (somehow)

2)  I give you my contact info… You give me something of value in exchange (and it better be something of value, like you promised; or I’ll feel cheated, and the relationship is over)

3)  You give me more value (in the form of “useful” follow-up emails)… I give you more of my time, by reading them (and perhaps I give you a bit of my trust)

4)  You give me an offer that will improve my lot in life… I give you my money (assuming you’ve gained my trust)


Do you see how this works? Every step of the way, there’s a value exchange. And each exchange has the potential to build a stronger relationship.

I made the first payment by giving you some of my time, and attention. And you need to give me something of value in return (or at least perceived value, to me) if you want this exchange to continue.

I hope that makes sense to you?


Anyway, let me just wrap this up by saying…

If you ever catch yourself asking why nobody is signing up for your “free” mailing list, with your “free” offer; Try changing your mindset and your focus.

And instead ask “How can I give my audience massive value, first?”


Because the truth is…

Your FREE offer is not really free… So you need to make it valuable, and you need to convince me it’s worth paying for.


Well, I need to get back to work now. So my greatest wish is that I’ve given you something of value, in exchange for the few moments of your time that you’ve just given me.


All the best,

Posted in Business Advertising Strategies, Customer Relations, Email Marketing, Marketing, Online Marketing and tagged , , , .


    • Well, Garrett, your question is a bit vague, so I can’t only give you a vague answer…

      It really depends on a number of factors. Starting with – your target market, your product or service, what your competition is doing. (and the list goes on)

      Generally speaking; it should relate to whatever you’re selling. Or at the very least, it should relate to whatever your ad promised, that brought the people to your site in the first place.

      For example: If you’re selling a weight loss program, your freemium offer should relate to weight loss. Because that’s what people are looking for, when they’re considering your offer.

      Makes sense?

      So your freebie could be a delicious recipe, that’s easy to make, and is designed to burn calories. Or a simple exercise that tightens the belly, in just 5 minutes a day.

      Once people see that it really works, they could be inclined to want more from you.

      If you’re selling a book, you can give away the first chapter (or two). If the first couple chapters are any good, they’ll probably be interested in buying the whole book.

      This is just a simple example, from a popular niche. But always keep in mind, value is in the eye of the beholder. So start by thinking, what could be valuable “to your audience.”

  1. Good info man! What about charging a couple of dollars for a trial sample instead of giving something for free? Do you think it would get a better quality of leads?

    • Great question, Jerome.

      I can’t tell you which way is best for you, or your business model. But let me quickly give you what I’ve experienced as the “PRO’s” and “CON’s” of it…

      PRO – Yes, charging for a sample will usually get you a better quality of lead. Because you’re now dealing with people who are obviously willing to pay for things they want. And, they’re interested enough in your offer, to open their wallets.

      So you pretty much eliminate the freebie leaches. (But that doesn’t mean everyone on your list will automatically buy your higher priced offers)

      CON – You also eliminate people who are on the fence. And are not quite sure if they want what you’re selling, or if they trust you enough to buy anything from you.

      Short case study for you:

      When I owned my e-commerce site, I had a freebie opt in form. My emails were simply filled with relevant info. And the emails always had a link at the end, offering some promotion.

      Some people would make a purchase after the first couple emails. Some people never bought. Some would buy after weeks, or months of getting emails from me.

      Could I have created a sample report, and charged for opting in? Sure, but how many of those sales from my free list, would I have never gotten? (it’s impossible to know for sure)

      So, Jerome, the best you can do is test both methods. And use your own data to make the best decision for you and your business.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *