Why Free is a Killer Marketing Strategy: Part 2

by | Oct 7, 2015 | Book Marketing Basics

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From a business standpoint, giving something away for free to get a sale may seem counterintuitive. How can giving something away for free help you make money in the long run? Think of offering those freebies as a marketing expense: the cost of exposure. Free promotions are a great way to get you exposure in front of your target audience. This exposure can help expand your following, and eventually this will lead to sales down the line. The key is to know how to take advantage of free.Why Free Is Your Friend AME Blog Post

Let me give you an example: one author I worked with held a freebie that lead to 37,000 downloads of her eBook. The following day when the promotion was over, she sold 1,300 eBooks. While 37,000 seems like a lot of lost sales, it’s actually a conversion number. You can’t get all of the 37,000 downloaders to become fans, but within that group are your fans and readers, perhaps around 1,000 or so. They are the ones who take the time to read the book, and who may even write a review. You’ll gain enough of a following to start building a fan base, and you’ll continue to market to these people in order to keep the connection strong. Don’t worry about the freeloaders, instead, focus on those downloaders who will take the time to read your book, and become a fan.

How can you make this work for your book? We covered some benefits last week and if you missed them you can go here. And below are even MORE benefits of free, and how to use free promotions effectively to get more fans and sales:

  1. Give away more than your book: The concept of free extends beyond your books. Think of all of the additional freebies you can share with your fans such as tips, videos, webinars, and content. All of that material will bring people back to visit your website, read your blog, and buy your other products.
  2. Stay relevant: As you grow your fan base, make sure to keep their attention by checking in with them on a regular basis. You can start to grow this relationship by using the last page of your book to thank them for their purchase (let a free download fall under this category), encourage them to send you feedback, and ask them for a review. Let your fans know that you are interested in them and that you appreciate them. Once you have made gained followers, cultivate this relationship by: share ideas, post great content, and make connections on social media. The more you reach out, the more effective you’ll be at building and growing your fan base.
  3. Invite them into your world: Use your blog, social media, videos, etc. to draw readers into your world. Be informative and entertaining by providing additional fun, free content. For fiction authors, share tidbits about your characters, blog in character, ask fans to help them select music for the characters, or post fun quizzes. Nonfiction authors can use their expertise to create tip sheets, informational videos, and mini eBooks. Identify how you can connect with fans in different ways, and be sure to offer variety.

It’s important for you to remember that there’s no one marketing strategy that will help attract, and retain fans. Instead, marketing is a series of actions and consistent engagement over time that will help you to grow your following and keep them engaged. Freebies are only one marketing tool, but you now have the understanding and tools to make sure you are using freebies effectively to get more exposure, fans, credibility, and sales in the long term.


  1. Carolyn Howard-Johnson

    August, September, and now October have certainly been promotion months that prove your free theory, Penny. @BookBaby has been offering my #TheFrugalBookPromoter free as an e-copy, marketing the give away like the pros they are, and my paperback copies of that title have more than doubled during that time and, strangely, my e-copy sales were also up a tad. I’m waiting to see how if there will be any hangover bumps once the offer is gone (Oct 30).

    • Penny Sansevieri

      Thank you for sharing, Carolyn! Your experience is a great example of how “free” can be a crucial part of any marketing plan. Best wishes with your promotion!


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