Anyone who knows me knows I don’t shy away from the fact that I offer free content for those who’re interested in kick starting their online marketing business and gaining new traffic and leads to push forward. With that in mind, however, could it be possible that these free opt-ins are hurting our businesses more than helping? What is the best way to truly go about securing a content marketing strategy that works in our favor while still being accessible to as many people as possible?
It’s an interesting topic and something that Doberman Dan has spent a lot of time talking about, as well as testing and re-testing. With years of entrepreneurial experience in running his own business model—Marketing Camelot—as well as all facets of online marketing, Dan is of the strong mindset that free content and free opt-ins actually hinder your ability to successfully run your business both from personal experience and from a psychological standpoint. Together, we delve into the pros and cons of what free content can do and how you can effectively pull together a content marketing strategy that works for you. Let’s get started!
Content Marketing Strategy and The CLICK Technique: “K” for Keep Going
Before we go into the details of creating your own content marketing strategy, we can’t forget to talk about The CLICK Technique! In the fashion of this entire article, The CLICK Technique is a free opt-in experience for business owners and entrepreneurs who need a little help with generating successful traffic and leads. Each letter in the word “CLICK” stands for a different chronological step you can take in order to get your website back to life and your wheels turning towards success!
In the case of generating an effective content marketing strategy, we’ll be focusing on the last letter in the world CLICK—“K”, which stands for keep going. The only true way to know what does and doesn’t work for your business model is by testing it yourself. It’s important to take feedback from the experts and listen to what people are saying, of course, but in order to find your own success, you have to push forward and just keep going until you find what works for you.
And that’s really what this entire debate is about. Sometimes, free content works for certain businesses. For others, the model collapses and ends up failing. Either way, split testing to see which one is more efficient for the kind of business you’re trying to run is really the only way to see how successful you can be and what sort of things you can put together for your content marketing strategy to find that overall achievement.
Content Marketing Strategy: The Do’s and Don’ts of Free Content
With the conclusion that we need to keep an open mind about everything going into this discussion, coming up with a usable and fully functional content marketing strategy is a little easier to do. The most important thing about figuring out what works and what doesn’t is keeping true to yourself. Don’t buy into anyone’s dogma at a first glance. If someone is speaking to a strategy that resonates with you and makes sense, that’s a step in the right direction! However, make sure to investigate it for yourself to truly see what you can carry forward and what might not work for the model you’re trying to build.
Making blanket statements about any marketing strategy is dangerous. No one knows for sure what will work for everyone out there, and assuming that just because something worked out for you that it’ll pan out for everyone else is how people make easy mistakes. Stand your ground and test! Testing theories is the most effective way to make sure that your content marketing strategy is heading in the right direction.
Interact Honestly With Your Audience
One of the main controversies with creating a content marketing strategy around offering free content to your target audience relies on their reaction when you start to change the story. Now, I don’t need to tell you that free content is often taught as a smart, effective way to get people on board initially without them having to worry about annual commitments that they’re unsure of. Giving them a taste of what you have to offer before they fully dive into your services is a good way for them to figure out if they’re going to enjoy what you have to offer.
However, with this logic comes the complications of the follow-up. Say you’ve generated a quality email list and have conducted your marketing through emails, sending out calls to action that are free and that provide valuable content to your core audience. For most people, this is exactly what they need, and getting such high level content for basically no cost is a very easy way for them to find success! However, you’ll find that things can get a little hairy when you start charging a small fee for access to such content.
You need the money to successfully finance yourself and your business, and what you have to offer shouldn’t be treated as if it’s priceless. You’ve worked hard to generate your knowledge, and the content you create and curate shouldn’t be offered for free, simply because it can be! People often get upset, sometimes downright angry, when content that was initially free suddenly gets a price tag, regardless of the fact that it’s always been worthy of said price tag. This is where people run into initial problems, and very quickly their business will deplete due to the audience leaving. It’s incredibly important to be careful! As they say, if you’re good at something, never do it for free.
Instead, try driving traffic to a page that asks for money. Not a lot of money at first, of course, but something small. Even $10.00 is worth it if you’re driving enough traffic to the aforementioned page. That way, you’re providing people with that same content—valuable and high quality—while also being able to say you’re making a profit off of what you’re doing and what you’re good at. The free business model is slowly but surely fading away, and keeping that in mind never hurts when venturing forward in the business and marketing world.
Free Content at First Sight
There’s also something to be said about offering free content to someone at the very beginning of your professional relationship. I know what you’re thinking: sometimes, it actually works! In the case of The CLICK Technique, we offer people a great wealth of knowledge on how to successfully launch your website to gain high quality traffic and leads, and things haven’t steered us wrong just yet.
However, sometimes it’s about the psychology of it all. If you’re trying to establish yourself in the marketing atmosphere, offering free content to people isn’t always the best way to get yourself noticed. In fact, it actually ruins your position as a seller, and your potential prospect might end up seeing you as less than what you actually are: a business owner or entrepreneur on a serious business venture.
To potential customers, it says that you don’t value your hard earned intellectual property enough to charge for it, which you absolutely should! If your content marketing strategy relies entirely on the content you write, it’s worth the price of admission, regardless of how much or how little that price is. Just by asking for something for your work, you get the chance to cultivate a higher value list of potential prospects, as opposed to people who just sign up for the sake of free content.
Oversaturation of Free Content
Though it’s said to be a clever strategy for signing people on board before things get too serious, the oversaturation of free content online is hurting the overall business model that revolves around the irresistible offer. When building your content marketing strategy, it’s easy to think about something only you can uniquely create and offer to people in exchange for their business—whether that be through an email address you can use for further marketing or an on-site sale.
However, since this strategy caught fire, it’s hard to keep things entirely straight when you’re searching the web for true, authentic content. It says something of the popularity of free content that it’s caught on so quickly, however, the onslaught of free offers and free content tends to blur them altogether, and the content itself loses value due to how frequent of an occurrence it is.
When creating your own content marketing strategy, it’s important to keep things like this in mind. Since free is everywhere, having your content get lost in the mess of other free content isn’t good for business. By driving your traffic to a page that gives people the option to pay for what you’ve got, you’re setting yourself apart from the sea of people who’re trying to get noticed due to the fact that they’re advertising their content as “free” instead of advertising their content for what it is: high quality, valuable, and worth whatever price you think people would pay for such information.
Content Marketing Strategy: Test For Yourself, And Find Results
In the end, I can only give you advice and nudges in the right direction for your own content marketing strategy. As stated before, making blanket statements about what does and doesn’t work for business models doesn’t always effectively help people in the way we hope it will. The plain truth of the matter is that, generally speaking, I don’t know what will work for you. Only you know that.
Armed with this knowledge, the best thing you can do is take notes, put them to the test, and see what happens! Maybe free content ends up being a great chance for you to not only network but expand your business towards success. Maybe free content ends up doing more harm than good, and starting with a paid offer straight from the beginning gets you where you want to be. Regardless of what you go with, your content marketing strategy is just that—your own. Work hard, and you will see results!