Automated Mailing List Building with Effective Freebies

using freebies to attract leads

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Regardless of your industry, one of the oldest techniques for building a database of qualified leads automatically is to offer free guides, advice e-books, or digital tools that users can download or receive by email. In return, they provide their primary email address. However, we’ve encountered many clients who were closed off to the idea because they had already tried without success. This allowed us to ultimately compile a list of mistakes found in nearly all cases where this approach failed.

Today, you’ll discover the errors to avoid and the right ways to go about it in order to get the best return on this strategy, as well as to maintain good contact with your prospects.

Checklist for Content to Offer

The first step in this process is validating the content you’ll offer, even before starting to create it, to ensure that your prospects will be ready to provide their contact information without hesitation to obtain it. Moreover, this content should be part of one of your sales funnels in a subtle way. Let’s look at this in detail.

Unique Content

Do a search on a search engine. If you see articles or other sites on the first page of results offering the same content you were going to propose, even if the quality of yours might be better, you’re the only one who knows that. So persisting in doing it means deciding to embark on a mission that will require more effort proportional to the existing competition.

The question to ask yourself at that point is: “Is it worth it?”. You could probably make a small tweak by targeting a micro-niche, like adding a geographic, age, or other criteria in the title that will instantly transform your content into something unique and, at the same time, more effectively target your prospects.

Is It in Demand?

One of the big mistakes we’ve regularly encountered is the choice of content based on what the entrepreneur deemed relevant from their own point of view. But when you do a quick search to see the monthly search volume for that content, the entrepreneur is usually shocked by the result. You can do this yourself with free access to tools like SEMrush, Google Trends, or other alternatives that will easily allow you to get an overview of the monthly search volume around this content.

You can even get several pieces of information about the profiles of people conducting these searches to allow you to validate that they are indeed prospects matching your persona.

If the result is negative, be glad because the good news is you found out before going further. Also, just as you arrived at this conclusion, you can search via these tools to find the topic(s) that interest your prospects and for which you can offer relevant and unique content, especially if the current results for these searches aren’t really relevant. If you find a question frequently asked by internet users who match your persona and the current best results aren’t really what they’re looking for, congratulations, you’ve found the holy grail!

Caution, It’s Not Free!

A fatal mistake we see too often is that the entrepreneur themselves ends up believing they’re offering something for free! But you’re buying qualified contacts. Nowadays, these same contact details can vary on average, just to get name and email, depending on location, purchase, providers, and the quality of results you’ll receive. Roughly speaking, according to the most recent simulation we ran, it ranges from $2 to $25 per contact. Your campaign could ultimately be worth $50,000 to some providers if it brings you 2,000 quality qualified contacts!

Besides the cost of such an acquisition that you’ll save thanks to this content, the fact of giving attention to a tool or guide the user obtains for free in their view, the moment they discover your gift, they’ll unconsciously think: “If their free services are like this, the paid ones must be impressive!”.

On the other hand, if they find themselves in front of something sloppy and worse, containing only part of the answer with the rest tied to a purchase obligation, not only should you prepare for unsubscribes, but you’ll put yourself in the “avoid” category because the prospect will think that’s your way of doing things. If they have the misfortune of asking you the time, you’ll harass them to sell your product or service. So if you don’t have the time or resources to create quality content, it’s better to avoid it.

Is the Prospect Better Prepared with This Tool?

This is the step where we usually have a good laugh, without pointing fingers at those responsible for this mistake. But when we ask “Why did you decide to create this guide?” where, for example, the entrepreneur explains in a few steps how to choose the right service provider, we’re told the goal was to highlight the criteria that, incidentally, are part of their strengths to ultimately position themselves as an obvious choice for the reader.

Have you ever seen the benefits of a particular brand on an orange juice carton? Or a car ad that says why you should drive? Or a seaside resort touting the benefits of the sun? And if you have seen it, you had a good laugh, right? It’s the same process. The reader is looking for advice to make their own choice and you’re offering them a guide where you ultimately cite your advantages as criteria! It’s crude!

The height of this approach is the prospects it works on, meaning they didn’t read your ploy. With all due respect for their mental faculties, they’ll mostly be off-target because you positioned yourself as a solution without validating eligibility, so prepare for useless traffic. We have so many arguments and examples on this point to make a whole separate article, but that’s not the goal today.

The key question you need to ask yourself to know if this content will be beneficial for you is: “Will the prospect who knows this content before contacting you be better than the one who doesn’t know it?”

To perfectly understand this critical point, here are some real-life cases:

Landscaping Gardener

Imagine a landscaping company in California wanting to reach owners with gardens over 1,000 sq ft to offer regular maintenance services. An excellent guide would be, for example: “How a Doctor and an Engineer Managed to Have the Most Beautiful Gardens in California”. In the description, put something like: Discover the common mistakes of California homeowners in choosing what they plant, and our advice for making the right choices suited to local conditions.

This title has no sections without a specific reason. The choice to mention doctor and engineer follows a search whose results allowed us to know these two professions represent the majority of targeted owners. Even other sources confirmed that owners who aren’t in these professions and place importance on their gardens often have a neighbor who is a doctor or computer engineer they want to outdo, hence the interest in citing the words “most beautiful gardens” in the title.

Talking about past success will mean the guide’s content is already tested and not just assumptions. Specifying the area by mentioning California will allow targeting prospects in the company’s area.

Then, in the description, pique curiosity by mentioning common mistakes, because it’s obvious to these prospects at this cultural level that someone who hasn’t learned the trade will make mistakes a pro avoids thanks to their educational background. Finding a book compiling recurring mistakes is a goldmine for their knowledge and will allow them to show their intellectual superiority even outside their profession during discussions on the subject.

And to top it all off, a prospect who contacts the company after learning about this guide won’t make a request containing a mistake mentioned in the guide. This will allow the company to present a plan without spending a lot of time explaining the proposed choices and those ignored, or having to convince them to avoid a choice, which can be interpreted as a lack of competence or knowledge by the prospect who sees you avoiding a choice. It can even spoil the sale by seeking a company that will agree to do what they want.

Once the topic is validated, you need to keep your promises and actually present harmful actions that are easily visible in several local gardens, provide solutions half of which seem achievable without having to use your services, and the rest requiring more know-how to implement.

Throughout, slip in anecdotes of what happened to clients who made these mistakes and what their repair entailed, as well as examples of those who followed the advice. In the end, show the images of the two gardens of the famous doctor and engineer mentioned in the title. And finally, a presentation of your company and its contact information, with a way to reach you for a free quote or free advice.

This process meets the need, will bring you better prospects, position you as an expert, present you as approachable in a way that lets the prospect breathe… A perfect score!

Dental Clinic

Let’s take the example of a clinic wanting to do more teeth whitening services, located in New York, thus facing increased competition. An excellent guide could be: Our Advice in Conferences to Columbia University and New York University Graduates for a Mesmerizing Smile. Description: A smile can reflect a lot about your personality. Discover the advice of our dental experts to new graduates for having an impressive smile during their job interviews.

This title was chosen to target a very promising micro-niche, because it aims at a population in full transition from dependence on parental choices, including the choice of the family dentist, to individual choices that come with independence thanks to earning their own income. We’re touching on a stage where anything that can give them an edge is priceless. So you just need to convince them of its importance, and you can recover all those who will reflexively smile in front of a mirror when reading this title.

Two images featuring two personalities, the first often smiling and with a reputation as a visionary (examples abound), with a second image of a movie personality before and after fixing their teeth, and the success accompanying these changes. The interest is already created.

From there, review the advice for getting this smile naturally and quickly go over what causes the most damage, placing anecdotes experienced by the clinic.

Then come the points to consider if you’re thinking about whitening, a crucial step in qualifying your prospects, addressing the financial conditions, with possible insurance options or other solutions to finance part or all of it and how to put them in place in time, if any steps are beneficial beforehand or post-intervention.

Ideally, finalize this guide with testimonials from past graduates who took the plunge, present a special student offer to stand out from the competition. This guide will not only bring new whitening prospects, but good support for these prospects can generate regular patients for the clinic by transforming these students and their future families into regular patients.

These two examples can be applied to any activity when creating free content. By following the same process, you ensure the objective has everything necessary to be achieved.

Collecting Real Contact Information

As stated at the beginning of the article, this strategy is also known to most internet users. The more your prospects have a profile of frequent internet user, the more they are used to this approach. This implies they have already faced those who offer mediocre content and moreover harass them afterwards with spam. Sometimes even after unsubscribing, they persist.

This kind of behavior has led users to put protective mechanisms in place, like using secondary mailboxes, or going through services offering temporary email to only receive your email. Afterwards, you can no longer reach them via that address. This will not only lose the prospect, but will pollute your database with bad recipients causing bounces and other actions that can make your campaign look like spam to email service providers.

The worst case is if the user can download your content with a bogus email, like Basically, you’re either lousy or you don’t care about the data. In either case, it’s bad!

You’ve spent time creating content with real added value, so ensure its quality collection process by taking into account two important points.

A Good Technical Choice

Whether you take ready-to-deploy solutions to ensure retrieving valid contact information before downloading the content, or developing it internally, make sure the chosen solution only allows downloading after multi-level verification to ensure it’s a valid email address, with sending of the download link by email for example, and that it’s not temporary.

Sometimes, for this, it’s enough to say the link will be sent after validating the registration within 12 hours, which will push the user to provide their primary email so as not to miss it. Add reassuring phrases, like announcing the email won’t be shared with partners or that you’ll receive at most one or two emails per week, with the ability to unsubscribe without having to justify it.

No approach is better than another. Improvement and benchmarking will allow you to find the best technical solution to ensure the quality of the contact information collected.

Respect Your Work

If you allow a user to download the content even with a bogus email address, it’s in a way a sign that you don’t really place importance on this content. If you don’t value it yourself, then how do you expect others to value it?

Don’t be afraid to be demanding. Yes, I’m giving you this content, but in return, I require a minimum of information. Dare to make it clear to the visitor on the download page that if they aren’t serious, they’ll get nothing. You’ve made arrangements to verify it. You’re demanding, but reasonable. This way, even if you require contact information beyond name and email, the visitor will be confident because they clearly see they’re dealing with serious and professional people in their approach.

At this stage, if your content validates the checklist and your process meets the conditions for collecting contact information, the rest, like any content, is a strategy to let search engines and end users know the tool exists. Whether with a long-term SEO-focused approach if the tool is for long-term use, or with boosts through advertising if the need is for a close deadline.

One last point to close. A note about the data collected: generally, people forget to reuse it by updating the same content they reacted to and inviting them to learn about the new version. This represents a campaign to a community whose interest is already validated, but where there are potential prospects that went untapped for various reasons during the first campaign. Maybe they just weren’t ready at the time, but now they are. Or your first try wasn’t convincing enough, and the second one brings improvements based on feedback allowing you to be more relevant this time.

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