Bait Your Hook: The Best Freebies for Generating Leads

Updated: Sep 16, 2020 / Article by: KeriLynn Engel

Your blog post might have every ingredient needed to make it great, but what happens when your readers reach the end?

With all the content they’re consuming, it’s likely your blog post will soon be forgotten, no matter how much they like it.

If you want your casual visitors to become customers, you’ve got to use a call to action.

But just asking your readers to take action often isn’t enough. They’re being asked to give up their email addresses everywhere they go, and their mailboxes are already overflowing.

Offering a targeted freebie is a great way to make your offer truly valuable to them and worth the risk of handing out their email address to yet another list.

This tactic isn’t new — you’ve probably seen tons of free ebooks offered in exchange for email subscriptions.

But if you get creative with your freebie offering, you can overcome all the content noise to truly engage with your visitors and get targeted leads to get in contact with you. Just check out the list below for ideas and inspiration.

1- Ebooks

A persuasive landing page for a free ebook from Social Triggers.
A persuasive landing page for a free ebook from Social Triggers.

Ebooks may be old news, but they’re still a popular freebie for a reason: they can provide great value to your readers, and can also be very quick and easy for you to produce.

One easy way to create an ebook to offer as a freebie is by compiling a collection of related blog posts from your archives. There are plenty of apps you can use to create ebooks automatically, including PressBooks and Designrr.

Just choose a few blog posts on the same related topic you can string together into a narrative, edit them, and add them together with an intro and conclusion to create your ebook.

Unlike traditional books, ebooks don’t have to be very long. You can quickly create an original 10 or 20 page ebook, and call it a “report” instead.

Or, to pack even more value into your ebook freebie, create some extras to go with it (such as templates, checklists, graphics, etc.) and call it a “toolkit” or “bundle.”

Real life examples

  • Ramsay Taplin of Blog Tyrant offers a free 13-page report on “How to Get 120% More Email Subscribers Overnight.” In addition to offering the report in his blog sidebar, he also wrote a landing page that outlines the report’s contents and benefits.
  • Derek Halpern of Social Triggers also offers a free ebook, called “How to Get Your First 5000 Subscribers,” and he also has a short but convincing landing page outlining the book’s contents.
  • Copyblogger offers a bundle of content when you subscribe to free membership on their website, including over a dozen ebooks on content marketing, copywriting, SEO, etc., plus a 20-part email course on online marketing (more on offering free courses below).
  • Carrie Smith of Careful Cents offers her “Tax Toolkit: A Checklist for Self-Employed Biz Owners” to all new subscribers to her email newsletter. The toolkit contains a short, practical guide on filing taxes in the US if you’re self-employed.

2- Videos

Backlinko prompts viewers to subscribe to view the rest of the video.
Backlinko prompts viewers to subscribe to view the rest of the video.

While the written word will never be obsolete, online video consumption has exploded in popularity for all age groups online, with shorter videos (under 20 minutes) making up the majority of viewing. The opportunities for engaging with your audience via video can’t be ignored.

Quality videos can be costly to produce, but they don’t have to be, so don’t write them off right away if you’re on a limited budget. With shorter videos becoming more popular, it’s easy to create something quick and interesting that can appeal to your audience.

For content ideas, try starting with a short expert interview via Skype or Google Hangouts, or do a Q&A where you answer questions your audience sends in. You could also just make a video version of a blog post, or record a quick tutorial screencast with Camtasia or ScreenFlow.

To create an amazing video – check out this step-by-step guide by Timothy Shim.

Real life examples

  • Brian Dean of Backlinko shares the beginning half of a video on “How to Rank For Any Keyword.” At the end, an opt-in form appears, asking you to enter your email to watch the rest of the video and receive additional free content.
  • Flyplugins offers a 45-minute tutorial video on using their plugin WP Courseware to sell courses online, in exchange for your email address.

3- Podcasts

Visitors to Make A Living Writing are offered a free podcast for subscribing.
Visitors to Make A Living Writing are offered a free podcast for subscribing.

A podcast is another way to grab the attention of those who don’t have the time to read a whole ebook. Podcasts are also booming in popularity, with millions of subscribers across the web.

Podcasts are also quick and easy to create, with an abundance of tools available such as Audacity, Podbean, and SoundCloud for creating and sharing your podcast. Since there’s no visual component, they can be much quicker to create than videos, but still allow you to reach a whole new audience than text only will.

Podcasts make a great content upgrade for individual blog posts as well, since it’s quick and easy to record and offer an audio version of your blog post, or additional material to add to your blog post.

To setup and add your podcast to a website, check out this step-by-step tutorial by Marshall Reyher.

Real life examples

  • Carol Tice of Make a Living Writing offers “The Freelance Fear Buster” to all new email subscribers, a 1-hour podcast plus a transcript that includes tips from her and 16 other professional writers.
  • James Schramko of Super Fast Business offers his podcast, “The Power Of Content,” for free to all visitors, but transcripts are only available in exchange for an email subscription.

4- White Papers

Hubspot offers problem-solving white papers to their B2B audience.
Hubspot offers problem-solving white papers to their B2B audience.

White papers might seem obscure or old-fashioned next to ebooks, streaming video, and podcasts, but they’re still a powerful tool today.

What exactly is a white paper, and how is it different from an ebook?

Ebooks are more casual and less technical, and work great for B2C businesses. They’re often shorter and easier reads.

While ebooks can be on any topic and in any format, white papers generally are persuasive reports that present a specific problem and solution. They tend to be more serious, in depth and technical, and more common in the B2B market.

That said, the line between ebooks and white papers can be blurry, and you might even find content that uses both labels interchangeably.

Real life examples

  • Hubspot, one of the masters of opt-in freebies, offers a ton of free resources including white papers on topics like “How To Avoid Marketing Technology Paralysis.”
  • The Content Marketing Institute offers a library of free white papers on topics ranging from digital asset management to planning an influencer marketing strategy.

5- Email Course

Thrive Themes offers a free mini-course to subscribers.
Thrive Themes offers a free mini-course to subscribers.

An email course is another way to provide huge value to your visitors and position yourself as an expert in your industry.

Email courses might seem daunting, but they can be just as quick to put together as an ebook. You can create them from your old blog posts as well, if you have a lot of how-to and tutorial-like posts. Just choose posts that are related in topic and can be strung together into a cohesive course.

Courses can be easily automated using email list tools such as MailChimp or Get Response, so you can just set it and forget it.

Real life examples

  • Copyblogger, along with their bundle of free ebooks mentioned above, provides a free 20-part course when you sign up for a free membership to their website called “Internet Marketing for Smart People.”
  • Thrive Themes offers a free mini-course on building landing pages called “Guide to RAPID Landing Page Building.”

Final Tips for Your Freebie

Some final tips for getting the most out of your freebie:

  • Create your freebie to be useful specifically to your ideal customer or buyer persona.
  • Write a landing page and/or introductory blog post about your new freebie, outlining its main features and benefits.
  • Analyze your goals for creating a freebie, and make sure your opt-in form asks for the right information. An email address might be all you need if your goal is to get more subscribers, but if you want more targeted sales leads you’ll probably need more information.

About KeriLynn Engel

KeriLynn Engel is a copywriter & content marketing strategist. She loves working with B2B & B2C businesses to plan and create high-quality content that attracts and converts their target audience. When not writing, you can find her reading speculative fiction, watching Star Trek, or playing Telemann flute fantasias at a local open mic.