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.