Have you ever noticed how kids dash towards the free samples at Kroger or Costco from a mile away? They get the appeal. Even if you’re not running (on the outside), you’re probably curious to see what you’re gonna get for free. If you like the sample, you may buy the full product—and even if you don’t buy that specific product, you’re more likely to buy more, buy more often, or both.
Common sense and experience explain this, but academic studies back it up. Dan Ariely, a behavioral economist at Duke University, explains that samples lead to sales for two reasons:
- “What samples do is they give you a particular desire for something… If I gave you a tiny bit of chocolate, all of a sudden it would remind you about the exact taste of chocolate and would increase your craving.”
- “Reciprocity is a very, very strong instinct. If somebody does something for you, you really feel a rather surprisingly strong obligation to do something back for them.”
This strategy isn’t limited to food and beverages, it works in many different industries. Are you giving away free samples yet?
You Need An Email Magnet
When you’re building your audience, you know you need email subscribers, but the happy alert of “You’ve got mail” has long since become a thing of the past. Most people’s inboxes are overflowing with email, so they’re reluctant to give out their address without good cause. Because of this, you need to build trust and offer something of value, as an incentive for joining your email list. That’s where free samples come in.
“Join my email list” isn’t a compelling offer to most potential subscribers, but “Download My Cheat Sheet” or “Take My Minicourse” just might work. To collect email subscribers, you need an email magnet (also referred to as a lead magnet or optin incentive). This grows your email list and turns a regular website visitor into a raving fan.
What Is Your Free Sample Worth?
Despite the fact that you’re giving away free samples, you should treat this as a financial transaction. We've seen the age of information explode, where it seems like everyone has a free ebook or another download—so your free sample needs to stick out from the crowd.
As a creator, the email address you’re getting is worth real money (both to you and the reader who is subscribing). With that mindset, would your target audience pay for what you’re giving away? If the answer is no, create a new email magnet. You need an irresistible offer, perhaps one that seems crazy to give away.
Here’s how to try this yourself:
- Revisit your purpose statement or your tagline, and get clear on the most compelling promise you make as a creator.
- Distill that promise down to a quick win that a reader could experience in 30 minutes or less.
- Create a checklist, cheat sheet, or how-to video that walks your audience through each step.
- Attach your new email magnet to a form in ConvertKit, and add your new email magnet to your website itself.