Give Freebie First, Then Ask For Email

by jim on December 5th, 2009

Robert Cialdini’s Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive is a great book if you want to understand more about human behavior, backed up by statistics and science. Alex Moskalyuk’s summary of each of the fifty ways is even better, because you can read it in a fraction of the time.

I decided to run a small test of my own on #9: “A small gift makes people want to reciprocate. People who received a small no-strings-attached gift from a stranger were twice as likely to buy raffle tickets from him than those who were just pitched on raffle tickets.” (Alex’s summary from the book)

On my personal finance blog Bargaineering, I raise a popup to new visitors offering a free ebook with 100 Money Saving Tips. I did a split test where half of the visitors’ popup that gave the book away for free and asked for an email (Freebie First) and the other that only offered the ebook after someone signed up for the list (Regular). The idea was that if I gave them a gift (the ebook), they may be more like to sign up to reciprocate.

The Freebie First form had 151,478 displays and a sign up rate of 0.9% (1373 signups) whereas the Regular form had 149,707 displays with a signup rate of 0.7% (1103). The Freebie First had a 22% increase in signups. What I didn’t do, and I don’t think I can do with Aweber, is see the unsubscribe rate for both lists. I’d imagine the regular form’s unsubscribe rate is higher because people only sign up for the list to get the ebook.

The conclusion here is that you should split test it yourself to see how your particular readership responds.

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6 Responses to “Give Freebie First, Then Ask For Email”

  1. Monevator Says:

    Good point, I believe it’s called A/B testing nowadays. I think it was in the 4 Hour Work Week that I read you might test whole proto-website pitches by doing alternatives and track how people respond.

    I just like to learn about finances and investing and write what I believe is good content about it – it probably means I’m being left behind in this arms race, which is a tad depressing!

  2. jim Says:

    Yeah, it goes by a few names and I don’t know if it’s in 4hww but Tim does talk about doing that to test engagement on his blog.

    Having good content is like the foundation to a house, you need it or you won’t have a house. It’s the trimmings that you play with. 🙂

  3. Peter Says:

    So to clarify, you’re saying that one popup mentioned that you would get the freebie if you signed up, and the other didn’t – but you got the freebie offer after signing up?

    Curious about this as I’m planning on signing up for Aweber soon, and plan on having an ebook to giveaway to get people to sign up. Sounds like it would be more successful if I mention it right in the popup?

  4. jim Says:

    Both forms had an email form but one included a link to the ebook in the popup, here’s what the freebie one said:

    “All that I ask is that you sign up for our fantastic newsletter where I share even more ideas on how to be better with you personal finances. Download my ebook, 100 Ways to Save Money, absolutely free as my gift to you for visiting today. No strings attached!”

  5. Peter Says:

    Gotcha – so there was an actual link in the popup to download the e-book vs. a mention of being able to download it once you sign up. So they don’t have to sign up to get the e-book. Interesting.

    Do you have stats as to how many people actually download the e-book from the popup?

  6. jim Says:

    I don’t have that data, I should’ve changed the link and tracked that but I didn’t…

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