The Problem With Free Content Marketing

Posted on Posted in Content Marketing, Lead Gen, Sales, Social Media

imageWhat’s the point of content marketing? What’s the goal? Why do we do it?

Some would say it’s to grow an audience. Some say it’s for search engine optimization. Some do it for lead generation. Some only care if it ultimately increases sales.

My problem with focusing entirely on freemiums and growing an audience with free content is that it can almost become “guilt-trip content marketing”…

“Hey, if we give them a whole bunch of free content, they’ll feel like they owe us and they’ll have to buy from us!”

Whether that’s consciously or subconsciously manipulative (no more manipulative than trying to sell people something), I’ll table for now…

Even if the freemium approach is “get-to-know-like-trust-us” and we’ll build-an-audience, it only works sort of well.

  1. So you’ve grown a list of 10,000 or 100,000 emails…
  2. And 20-30% of those people open your email- are you emailing daily or every other day or twice a week or weekly?
  3. About 8% of them click to the site and read more free content-
  4. How many of them are actually buying something? Are you tracking that?

Freemium, high quality content marketing is only PART of the answer because… we human beings are all a bunch of freeloaders!

We’ve Created a Bunch of Information Freeloaders

As content consumers, we’ve been trained now to expect a lot of free helpful content.

Marketers have been taught over the last decade to create free content that is as good as content people should have to pay for, but the companies that are creating this free content aren’t getting paid for it…

  • How many newsletters have you joined and then never paid that company a penny?
  • How many podcasters have you listened do and never given them a dime?
  • How many bloggers have you read and you’ve never bought their course?
  • How many blog posts have you read and you don’t even remember them or who wrote them?
  • How many whitepapers and ebooks have you downloaded and you didn’t fully read and you don’t remember where they are on your computer?

This freemium deal with the devil strategy only makes sense if you can monetize that audience- but are you monetizing that audience? How? Are you tracking it well enough to know it’s profiting you?

Sure SOME of this audience of freeloaders converts without you trying that hard. But how many more people would have converted, how much higher would your ROI be if you’d thought about converting them? If you were better at direct marketing?

So content and lead gen are just one piece of the puzzle and if you do them the wrong way you make it hard on the salespeople. Or if you’re an entrepreneur you make it hard on yourself to get sales.

You haven’t done all the work, just part of it…

Why Do People Buy?

Because we as people only buy when we are really excited or in really big pain we can’t stand one second longer or when marketers make us feel special or we think it’s a really good deal on a really valuable thing that’s going away forever (there has to be value and trust there for that to work, of course)…

  • Why should the potential buyer take action with you right now?
  • Why not procrastinate?
  • Why not ignore you?
  • Why not choose your competitor?

You have to sell. How?

  • Urgency
  • Scarcity
  • Pain relief
  • Gigantic opportunity now
  • Limited-time only

The difference between rich and poor people, billionaire and middle class, successful sales organizations and unsuccessful ones is understanding:

  • Pain
  • Value (which includes relevance)
  • Urgency and
  • Tribes

“Join our tribe now and we’ll relieve your pain and you’ll be special and have super powers like us but if you want in, you have to join now, for a limited time only!”

This is the difference in getting 2% of your webinar attendees to buy and 16% to buy.

It’s the difference between 1% of people interacting with your Facebook post and 21% interacting with it.

The difference is measurable and huge.

  • Why is your thing a new, big, limited-time opportunity?
  • Why NOW?
  • Why do you think Microsoft puts out new versions of Offce and Windows all the time?
  • Why are there always new iPhones?
  • Why are there new models of the same cars each year?
  • Why does the McRib keep going away and coming back?

If you’re too free and too available, you’re not that interesting. When they see your content there’s a lot of hmm and huh and meh. You can’t compete.

So- the biggest pitfall of the marketer is being too soft, not wanting to sell.

Don’t be soft.

Sell Something and Track It

Freemium is not bad. I do all kinds of lead magnets. They’re great. But you have to sell something too.

  • You need to track which of your leads become sales.
  • You need to track which of your customer targets are not just great lead sources, but which ones are great buyers.
  • Which of your lead magnets create customers, not just leads?

Use AdWords and Facebook pixels and conversion tracking. Make sure you have a way to trigger a conversion for the purchase not just the lead. Then you can track all of that back to the content.

If you can’t do that, your content marketing and freemium work will always be off target, and you’ll be at a competitive disadvantage.