I recently surveyed my mailing list to find out what burning questions they had about online book marketing. One of my favorites was: What makes a giveaway attractive enough to give up your email address? Here’s my take on this topic.
A giveaway—also known as an ethical bribe or a free gift—is something given away in exchange for an email address. Typically the author places an opt-in or sign-up form on her homepage. You can see mine on the right sidebar. When the site visitor types name and email address in the form and clicks Submit, she is then added to the mailing list (after confirming that she actually wants to sign up. The author sends email messages (newsletter, coupons, features, whatever) to the people on her list, preferably on a regular basis.
Figuring out the best giveaway used to be one of the hardest tasks I’ve had to complete. I never quite knew what was good enough or too much or too little. The good news is you aren’t limited to just one gift for all time. Don’t be afraid to experiment. If one gift doesn’t seem to be attracting enough sign-ups, try another.
Elements of a Delicious Giveaway
D’vorah Lansky describes a great giveaway as “delicious.” I love that word, because it goes beyond the idea that your giveaway is nice or helpful, but makes you feel good as well.
A delicious giveaway will have these characteristics:
- Author excitement.
If you’re excited about the gift you have for your readers, it will show in all that you do. It may be free, but remember it’s a gift, something you are pleased to bestow upon someone.
- Useful or fun for the reader.
Think about what you can create that will help the reader in some way, or make him smile or laugh. Typical free gifts include checklists, action guides, step-by-step how-to instructions, craft patterns, meditation guides, photo albums, recipes.
- Ten pages or less.
I’ve seen and even downloaded free gift PDFs as long as twenty pages, but that seems a bit extreme to me. Of course, a giveaway doesn’t even have to have pages; a short video of you explaining how to do something related to your book, or a PowerPoint presentation in video form are nifty ideas as well. Most giveaways I see are PDFs, however. And if video or PowerPoint isn’t something you’re eager to do, skip it for another time.
- Attractive layout.
Create your giveaway in Microsoft Word or other word processing program. Make use of borders to give it a clean look, and include a title page and an introduction page. As a last page, invite readers to your website, or to purchase your book or information product. Limit the number of fonts, to avoid a cluttered look. Clip art or photos appropriate to each page help liven up the text.
- Action steps.
Give the reader an idea of what to do next, so they’ll feel a sense of accomplishment. It might be as simple as joining your Facebook group for more in-depth discussion of your book, or three steps to feeling better after a workout.
Did I leave anything out? What do you think makes a giveaway delicious?
If you’d like an example of a free gift, download this free action guide I created.