One of my favorite things in New York City is visiting Zabar’s Bakery in Grand Central Station. Not only do they have very tasty treats available (treats which as I get older I need to stay further and further away from because they’re not good for me) but they also have free samples available of some cake or another.
Ever wonder why the local bakery often gives away free samples of their tastiest cakes? Or at the dairy counter in your local supermarket, there is almost inevitably a tray of small pieces of cheese that you can sample? It’s simple – you take a free taste and if you like what you tasted, you’re more likely to purchase the whole thing.
In essence, a free nibble is good business because it means that the company is that much more likely to make a sale of the whole thing. Sure they get people who come in, take a free sample and then walk away. But they get enough customers to actually make a purchase that it’s worth their while to give away these freebies on a regular basis in order to entice people to make a purchase.
The Online Version
Your own website doesn’t have the ability to give away a free sample of some cake or cheese in order to grab customers. All you have is pictures, video and bits and bytes. So what do free samples have to do with online marketing? Everything it turns out. You can actually apply a similar principle to the free samples on your own website and many people often do it without realizing it.
Your blog for example may well be a free sample. Let’s say that you run a company which provides financial advice to people who are trying to figure out how to save for retirement. This is a common issue in the United States, where relatively few people have adequate retirement savings available to them. Many people in fact end up stuck living on nothing but social security because that’s all they have at the end of a lifetime of work.
Now, you may offer advice to these people and personal consultations. You would offer to meet with them one on one and review their financial statements. You might offer to help them find places they can save money so that they put something more away each month. You might even help them build a financial portfolio for the future.
However, the ‘free sample’ you give them might be your blog. Or you might take it up a notch. Maybe you offer a free phone consultation if they just provide their name and phone number. This is really no different from the bakery offering a free sample of their pastries. You offer to discuss their financial needs briefly and show them why you are capable of helping them to build a secure financial life.
The Key to Capturing These Leads
These days, most websites worth their salt will put up a sign up sheet for a newsletter or something else within seconds of your arrival at the site. Sometimes, they won’t even let you continue without first signing up. Personally, I’m of the opinion that this is a shortsighted way to do things. I’d recommend doing what we do here – allow people to see the site for a bit and then give them the chance to sign up.
Another thing I’ve suggested in the past is that you consider the possibility of doing something more than another ‘me too’ newsletter. Try offering your potential customers a magazine instead and you’re more likely to get sign ups.
Track Your Progress
The other thing to consider is that you need to track your progress. See whether or not your website is actually making a dent in the customer base that you want to attract. If you find that you are not getting people to sign up, consider trying some split testing. See whether or not more people sign up when you let them see a sign up page after 5 seconds or 50 seconds.
Consider as well trying different site designs to see which ones work best to attract the kind of customers you want. There’s nothing wrong with doing this.
Have a Phone Number
However, above all else, consider what we have here at Quantum SEO Labs above – a phone number. Websites with phone numbers are much more likely to get customers to call them than websites without them.
And no, I’m not being facetious. I mean that if you prominently display a phone number instead of keeping it hidden away somewhere, you are that much more likely to get your customers to call you than you and make a purchase. Of course, it also goes without saying that the better your customer service reps are the more likely you are to make an actual sale.
Make a Demo Available
Does your company offer a software product of some kind? Offer customers a demo which they can actually take a look at and enjoy. This is more likely to get them to actually make a purchase than anything else.
Finally, consider the idea of offering coupons to visitors who drop by for the first time at your website. A coupon is more likely to convert the customers who may be wavering between using you and using your competition.
Look, the bottom line is that your website should be treated in much the same way that Zabar’s treats their storefront at Grand Central Station. It should be a place to showcase what you have to offer and it should be a place where your customers can get free samples of your goods so they know that it’s something worth purchasing.
If you follow these simple rules and think of your online storefront as being similar to a bricks and mortar storefront, you’ll easily get your customers to take nibble and actually become paying customers for whatever it is that you have for sale.