How to Create a Free Download That Does More Than Scream “Free”

Alyssa Gregory

Offering a free download is a common way to build an opt-in list you can use for your email marketing campaigns. The freebie can be a special report, white paper, tip sheet, resource document, etc. In fact, to many website owners looking to build a list, it doesn’t always matter what it is, as long as it gets people to submit their email address to download it.

But being on the receiving end of a few less-than-useful free downloads myself, I know there is no quicker way to lead a subscriber to search for the unsubscribe link. Not to mention that offering a “cheap” free download is just bad business. You don’t have to give away the store, but you can make your free download better and improve the way your audience perceives you in a few easy ways.

Provide Information Not Available Elsewhere

One of the cheapest tricks with a free download is to copy info everyone else is using or that is available to everyone and presenting it as unique. Spending time to create your own original document not only separates you from the masses but can also make your download much more valuable.

Give Quality Information That Can Be Used NOW

You won’t win anyone over if you provide a download that gives tentatively useful information if the reader does X, Y and Z first. Make your download useful, relevant and truly free by focusing on providing information that your readers can put to use immediately.

Write Good Marketing Copy Describing the Freebie

The goal of your marketing copy may be to get your readers to submit their addresses, but misrepresenting your download is an ineffective and downright poor way to do it. Even though there is no money exchanging hands, you are still responsible for accurately describing what the recipient will get in exchange for providing their email address so they can decide if it’s worth that cost to them.

Don’t Blatantly Sell Something Else

You may view your free download as a stepping stone to a paid product, but if you reference your upsell repeatedly in your free download, it’s like beating a dead horse. Save the upsell for the end of the document, after the reader has absorbed all of the valuable information you’re giving away for free.

Create a High-Quality File That’s Easy to Download

Whether your download is a PDF, a video, or some other format, take time to make sure the format you choose is appropriate and that it’s easy enough to download. For example, if you have a 24 MB file, it’s not exactly accessible by everyone. Plus, spending a little time to polish the presentation can do wonders for boosting the perceived value of the download.

Include Extra Resources for More Information

You can’t include everything the reader may want to know in a free download, nor would you want to. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make it easy for them to expand their knowledge with a few clicks. Offer a variety of resources at the end of your download including your upsell, more freebies and other methods your readers can continue to learn.

Do you offer a free download in return for an email opt-in? How do you make it worth it to your readers?

Image credit: Spiders