You know the drill. You create a free eBook and then you give it away for free to get more email subscribers.
It’s a tried and tested method that has worked wonders for years.
But lately people have been saying the method is dead in the water. They reckon it’s lost it’s effectiveness because people are clued in to the method.
Well, I’d like to say a few things about that. I’d be interested to see what you think about the matter too.
My experience with the “eBook for email address” method
For years now I’ve been offering a free eBook to readers in exchange for an email sign up. And it’s worked pretty well. My sign up rates are good and the people who sign up don’t just unsubscribe after they’ve read the free offering.
And the funny thing is that it is working just as well now as it was six or seven years ago.
Maybe even better.
A screenshot from my Aweber stats showing a high eBook sign up rate.
Take a look at the screen grab above and you will see that my Free eBook page is converting at just above 10%. Anyone interested in sign up stats will know that that is pretty good.
My experiences with the free eBook giveaway and the experiences of those guys I look up to continue to demonstrate that this method is no yet dead.
Reasons the eBook giveaway is not dead or dying
Now, just because it is working for me does not mean that it will work for everyone. That being said, here is why I think the free eBook is still alive and well.
1. Most readers are newcomers
One thing you need to be aware of is that most of the people who come to your site are new to the blogging world. Whatever your blog is about, you can be pretty certain that most of your readers are beginners.
You see, if you write a good quality blog you will be solving a lot of problems and answering a lot of questions.
And people search for these answers in Google and then arrive at your site to see what you have to say.
Sure, you will get some experts in there but even they are looking for something. If your eBook is high quality and if your traffic comes from a funnel of some kind you will enjoy a lot of new sign ups.
2. Technology is re-popularizing eBooks
A few years ago everyone was talking about the fact that eBooks were on their way out.
And then came the Kindle.
And then came the iPad.
And then came iBooks and Instapaper and all those other amazing things that let us read PDFs on our phone.
Technology is making eBooks popular again. I would hazard a guess that they are more popular than ever because people now read them on their phones and tablets as well as their computers and laptops. Accessibility is way up.
3. People are more open to giving away their email address
When I go over to see my mother I am always surprised at how unwilling her new husband is to do anything online.
Paying bills, shopping, signing up to email lists… it’s all out of the question.
Luckily most people aren’t like that.
Now that the we are spending so much time online (on our phones, etc.) we find that we are more open to sharing email addresses and other potentially private information with blogs, websites and applications. Read the Terms and Conditions of most apps and you’ll notice that they access private data even when you’re not using the thing!
You have to make sure YOUR eBook is not dead
Sometimes when I hear sweeping statements like “free eBooks are dead” I wonder whether the person has any reliable data for such a statement or whether it is just their personal eBook that is not performing all that well.
The free eBook forumla is alive and well but you need to make sure you are taking the right steps to ensure its working well for you and your blog.
- How niche-specific is it?
I am always talking about this but it is so important. You need to make sure that your free giveaway is as tightly related to your niche as possible. If it is even slightly off topic or general you just won’t get the interest.
- Are you pre-selling it?
Last year I wrote a post on Problogger and one on Copyblogger about how you need to create a “sales funnel” for your eBook where you use guest posts to prime people for your free giveaway. Since then I’ve seen a lot more people doing it and have had a lot of feedback about how well it works.
- Are you promoting it properly on your blog?
If you have a look at 10 blogs I bet that 9 of them have horrible opt-in form areas. The part of the sidebar that encouraged people to sign up, the dedicated landing page that promotes the idea… a lot of them are really underwhelming. You need to make sure you have a nice clean opt-in area with a properly designed form or eBook graphic.
- Are you split testing your opt-in forms?
Split testing is where you run two versions of the same ad at the same time and see which one works the best. Of course, they don’t actually run at the same time with both ads on the page at once – you just input the same code and the software will show 50% of people the first ad and 50% of people the second ad. You can do this really easily with Aweber.
Any time you are promoting a product, whether its free or paid, you need to be constantly working on the delivery and the offering itself. Things can always be improved.
Do you think the free eBook method is dead?
I’d really like to open up the comments now and hear what you think about whether this method is dead or not. Is it working for you? Do you think it is less effective than a few years ago? Please leave a comment and let me know.
Photo: © Intoit