Opt-In Bribes People Actually Want (the days of the “FREE Ebook” are numbered)

Audience Building Strategies for Content Businesses

Welcome to the Marketing Show Podcast.

“Download My FREE Ebook!”


It used to be that creating a valuable piece of free content was enough to attract tons of email subscribers. Almost regardless of niche, people just loved collecting free info and were willing to give up their email addresses in exchange for ebooks, videos, and email courses.

But those days are coming to an end, and you may have noticed that your “Free Ebook” doesn’t draw them in quite like it used to.

It’s not your fault.

The market is getting more sophisticated, and people are more hesitant than ever about email subscriptions. If you want to grow your list, you need to up your game.

In this new podcast, Clay and Andy discuss the kind of opt-in bribe your visitors really want.

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Clay: A lot of people don’t know this, but a while ago, about a year ago, I started obsessing about landing pages, and the reason why I started obsessing about them was this. I was sitting around looking at the numbers in our business, and I realized something that was incredibly simple, but incredibly profound, and that was that if I who get a 50% increase in the opt-in rate to my landing pages across my business that my business would increase by 50%. So if I had 50% more leads coming in to my business, 50% more people joining my list on a daily basis that that would mean that I would have 50% more customers if all the math worked out, and it did. So I spent hundreds and I mean hundreds of hours obsessing about landing pages and about what got people to opt in and what didn’t get people to opt in.

Today, we’re not going to be talking about landing page design. We’re not going to talk about, you know, putting something above the fold or not above the fold. We’re not going to talk about which design elements are more likely to increase your opt-in rate. We’re going to talk about one thing else instead. We’re going to be talking about the kinds of lead magnets or opt-in bribes or carrots that you dangle in order to get people to opt in to your list.

Hi, my name is Clay Collins, and joining me is our head coach, Andy Fossett, and today, we have a few different things to talk about. One, we’re going to talk about what kinds of bribes get opt ins, and we’re going to talk about how to ensure that the people who opt in for those bribes, if you will, end up purchasing. How’s it going, Andy?

Andy: It’s going quite well, Clay. How about you?

Clay: I’m doing well. It is freezing outside. We just got over a foot of snow, about 14 inches, here in Minnesota, so I’m kind of bound to my loft right now, so I’m kind of locked in here recording this podcast with you.

Andy: That’s cool. I’m watching the sunlight dance off the tips of the waves on the Pacific right now.

Clay: Yeah. For those of you wondering what exactly Andy is referring to, dude lives in Hawaii and I’m in the United States version of Russia basically.

Andy: Icy tundra.

Clay: Yeah, yeah. I’m in Siberia. Cool. So what kinds of bribes get opt ins? Well, Andy was talking – I was talking to him earlier before we started our recording, and he was talking about the best-performing bribe in his business to date. Andy, could you share a little bit about that?

Andy: Yeah. Well, the best performing bribe that we’ve had has actually been working very consistently for well over a year now. It’s just – At first glance, it’s just a tutorial. It’s just a video on how to do a handstand, which doesn’t sound all that hot, but we also presented a little better than that because actually, we actually make a whole program around it. It’s not just a video that you watch, but it’s a very detailed video with, you know, warm ups, cool downs, preparatory exercises. We give people a PDF that tells them what to do on which day. It’s like a full course for getting a handstand. So it’s not just something that you’d download once and you store away, and you kind of forget about it. It’s something that you can actually, you know, work with and see improvement, and it tells you what the next steps are, and that’s actually done really, really well for us, and it’s led to a lot of growth for our list, and it’s actually been really consistent with our paid offerings, which has been very helpful too. We’ll get to that in a few minutes as well.

Clay: You know, one thing that I used to see a lot that I don’t think works as well are these downloads that are like the top 12 mistakes people make that screw up their love life, or you know, like in your industry, it could be like the top 14 things people do that lead to injury or things like that, and I think at some point, we all kind of got overloaded with just long list of tips, and what I think is cool about your opt-in bribe is that it’s simple. We will teach you how to do a handstand.

Andy: Yup. Yeah, it’s very clear, and like you said, people are overwhelmed with lists. I mean, especially, you know, the internet, it’s become Listville the past couple years, and people know that you can’t go anywhere, not even on the internet even, but…


…on TV. Everything is lists. Everything is top headlines from Twitter showing on TV now. Everywhere you go, it’s all lists, and all the supermarket magazines, headlines are like 68 ways to burn belly flab with fabulous desserts and stuff like that, and we’re overwhelmed because it’s well known for one thing that, you know, people can’t hold more than 7 discrete bits of information in their minds at one time, you know, which is very handy for the link to phone numbers, but even now, we can’t even remember phone numbers anymore…

Clay: Right.

Andy: …but how if you give somebody 12 tips, how are they going to hold those in their mind and make use of them? And people know they can’t, especially when they have 58 different lists of 12 to 50 tips.

Clay: Right. Well, I think something that’s kind of, you know, important is that when it comes to viral content, when it comes to getting traffic on like Stumble Upon or getting people to re-Tweet your stuff, those lists absolutely do work, so that the top-performing blog posts on, you know, like the Huffington Post or some of the top-performing articles in various magazines are a list, but people are coming to a point now where they don’t actually want to opt in for them. They want to quickly browse them, and you know, sort of skim for about 30 seconds, and then they usually end up going. So that kind of thing is great for the purpose that it serves, but it’s not opt-in material anymore.

Andy: Yeah. And part of that is just because people know on a list of 50, there’s going to be 3 items they can use, so yeah, they’ll click Like. They might share it or tweet it, but they definitely don’t want to opt in for that anymore.

Clay: Right, right. So what kind of bribes are getting opt-ins? Well, simple ones work, right? How to do a handstand? If you are maybe in the social media space, how to set up your Facebook page might be a good one. If you are in our market, you’re focused on landing pages. You might have a one page sort of diagram or a one-page checklist for the perfect landing page. So simplicity is absolutely key.

But what we’ve also found works is non-info bribes. So we recently made this transition from having bribes that were information products to non-information products, right. So we started giving away internet marketing calculators where you could play around with the numbers around your marketing campaign, and see how the math works, how you could estimate, hey, if I get a 2% click-through rate on this ad – Actually, that’s very high for a banner advertising, but if I get a 2% click-through rate on this banner, and you know, 0.5% of that traffic converts for a $67 product, how much profit will I have made? So we release calculators like that rather than some sort of product that tells you how to calculate this. We release a calculator. We release landing page download templates that people could download and implement in their business. We released a WordPress plug-in that someone could download. So we move from DIY bribes to DFY bribes. So DIY bribes are do-it-yourself bribes.

DFA bribes are done-for-you bribes.

Bribes that do not require people to analyze and synthesize information but rather simply present them with a tool that they can implement in a short period of time, and this really has been kind of the largest evolution in terms of the opt-in bribe in our business. This has really gotten us more results than anything else, and I think when a lot of people hear me talk about this, they become somewhat stumped with how they can do this. And my message to everyone here is that you don’t need to do programming in order to get one of these, right. Like you can create a calculator, for example, like if you’re in finance, you can create a calculator with a simple spreadsheet that you allow other people to use. You can quickly create, you know, a checklist. There are websites that allow you to create checklist that other people can sort of move through. You can have, you know, various pages and graphics made that, you know, if you were in the fitness market, for example, you could have goal- setting posters made that people could print up and post on their wall to motivate them, and you could have a graphic designer do that. So it’s not information that needs to be absorbed. It’s sort of a mantra.

We recently…


…gave away a wristband, a goal-setting wristband for people that they could wear on the wrist. It would remind them every day of their marketing goals. So that’s done-for-you rather than do-it-yourself, and this does not require programming. I think that’s an important thing to note here. Andy, what do you think about

Andy: Yeah, definitely. And I think it’s a really important part that you mentioned that it does not know require programming, especially, you know, people listening to you and they know what your business does, and they think oh, that’s easy for Clay to say, he’s got, you know, a team of developers that’s working on this all the time, but like you gave a couple of examples of things that are much simpler, you know, and what we really talk about when we’re talking about, you know, done-for-you is a tool that people can go on and use…

Clay: Right.

Andy: …not something that they have to think about, figure out how they’re going to use then work on building a habit. It’s just something that they can use, and that could be, like you said, it could be a checklist. It could be an Excel spreadsheet. It could be a shopping list that you take to the grocery store. It could
really be any kind of thing like that. You know, it could be a pattern that they print out and cut to make a craft with.

Clay: Right.

Andy: I mean it’s depending on, you know, what your market is, of course, but you can take a very low tech approach to this and still create a done-for-you solution, a tool that people can apply directly and immediately, and that’s when they see results because if you just give them information, they may or may not use it, which means they may or may not get results, but if you give them a tool, they can use it right then and they can see the results, and that’s when they really decide that
they want to bond with you and trust you.

Clay: Yup, absolutely. Absolutely. So Andy, how do we ensure that after someone has opted into our list for that sort of that carrot that we’re dangling in front of them, how do we ensure that they go on to purchase our product after they’ve received the bribe from us?

Andy: Yeah, that’s a really, really important thing to keep in mind because people listening to this, you know, you might be thinking oh, I know I’ve got all these ideas. I can make a bribe like this, you know, but if it doesn’t fit your offerings, your paid offerings, then it might actually do more harm than good too, and what I mean by that is, for example, if the people in your market are looking for a particular solution and your free bribe is maybe too big, too much information, or too detailed, then why would they buy your paid offerings, right?

So for example, if you have like a 20-part video course on, you know, sewing buttons under your trousers or something, and you’re trying to sell a program on zippers, you know, that’s sort of, you know, might sort of fit kind of, but the thing is, when are they going to watch 20 videos on sewing buttons? Most people are never going to do that, and they’re going to be sitting there thinking every time they see you talk about your zipper program, they’re going to say, “Oh, I’ve still only watched 3 of your button videos.” You know, when am I ever going to have time for zippers? So you want to turn them off.

Clay: Right. You know, the two things that I see – The two mistakes that I see people will making all the time are: one, that their bribe is too large and too all encompassing, and it therefore becomes a factor that prohibits people from buying because they say, “Hey, I haven’t gone through the free thing yet. I haven’t consumed the free thing yet. Why would I purchase the main course when I can’t even digest the sample of this meal, you know?” It’s sort of as a metaphor. So that’s one problem.

And the second problem I see is that there simply is not overlap. So back in, you know, sort of the heyday of SEO, some might argue that we’re still in the heyday of SEOs, but back in the heyday of SEO, you know, there were – people had fine these terms where a lot of the people were searching for the term, but there weren’t a lot of pages that existed for the term. So for example, I had a client once who wanted to tell a dog training course, but they ranked very easily for the term dog bed, so they were like well, if someone’s searching for a dog bed, then it’s very likely that this person has a dog and that they would want to purchase a course on how to like train their dog. And nothing, you know, could be further than the truth. I see this all the time where people are trying to divert folks who are really looking for one thing and trying to get them to purchase something else. So whatever you’re selling, make sure that the bribe you offer is absolutely, absolutely, absolutely consistent with what you’re selling. So for example, we give away these landing page templates. People who want to download landing page templates are perfect customers…


…for our lead pages platform which is a landing page creation platform. So there’s absolute consistency there. It’s not like someone’s coming in and they’re looking for a tutorial on how to create web videos, and we’re trying to like kind of convince them that they also need a landing page platform. There’s absolute
congruency and consistency, and the same with your products. Someone who wants to learn how to do a handstand would be a perfect fit for your course on how to do, you know, gymnastics moves and tricks.

Andy: Yeah, absolutely. The relevance is very, very important, and you know, it goes deeper than just making sure that your bribe is similar to your paid offerings, you know. You also want to make sure that it supports the desire for the paid offering, you know, and it supports the need. It does answer a question. It does help
people. It is a solution or a tool for them, but at the same time, it also wets their appetite and makes them realize how much more they want the things that you actually have for sale.

Clay: Right.

Andy: That’s when you know you’ve actually knocked it out of the park.

Clay: Yeah. I think one of the biggest mistakes people make is trying to re-purpose content for their bribes. For example, if they’re trying to sell a book, they will take one of the chapters of that book and give it away as a bribe. And that’s almost nothing to create desire for the actual book, and the problem with that is
this that content meant to educate. In other words, the book that you’re giving away is generally not content that creates desire. So most people are doing – When they try and repurpose a piece of their actual course as the bribe is, they’re taking something that was originally intended to educate and trying to use it instead as something that is going to create desire, and it creates absolutely no desire because that’s not its function. Education generally speaking, is not the same as marketing, and if you try and educate people before you’ve created desire inside of them, then you’ll usually fall flat.

Andy: Yeah. And I want to point out also. You’re not saying don’t educate people, but you’re saying that make sure that you don’t educate them out of their desire.

You can educate people into desire or you can educate them out of desire. You don’t want to educate people then in a way that makes them feel stuffed full of knowledge where they’re got everything they need. You want to educate them to the fact that there are deeper things to explore, and that’s available in the paid product.

Clay: Yeah. I mean here’s the right thing, Andy, like what I’m not saying it that you shouldn’t teach and you shouldn’t educate. What I’m saying is that look, if I were going to take a chemistry class, and some person came to me and they said hey, when you know chemistry you’re going to be much more likely to get into medical
school. This is going to be a generalized skill that you’re going to be able to apply in all different areas of your life. I can see that you’re interested in potentially going into physics for graduate school so chemistry is really going to help out with that, and graduate programs are, you know, really like to see that
you’ve taken a solid chemistry course, plus it’s a lot of fun. Here are the kinds of things that you’re going to learn about. You’re going to be able to do these kinds of, you know, Mr. Wizard, things that you saw as a young child. We’re going to show you how to make your own dry ice. We’re going to, you know, blah, blah,
blah, and they’re like do you want to take chemistry class. You know, if that were me like if they were actually speaking to me and I did want to go to graduate school for Physics or become a doctor potentially or whatever, then that would be the perfect sell. But if they start reading to me from chapter 2 of a Chemistry book, that absolutely would not work, right? So that’s education rather than desire and creation, and both of those are educating in a way, but the marketing-based education is created to create desire, and you know, chapter 2 of the textbook is in order to inform me in a manner that’s going to help me pass the test and acquire very specific skill set. So education is happening in both examples, but the purpose and the outcome of that education is very different. One is to create desire. The other one is to inform.

Andy: Yeah, and also, you know, like you said, like reading out of Chapter 2 of a Chemistry book well that sounds suspiciously like work, and with a lot of things, with a lot of things, actually, the product, you know, does require…


…work. You know, if the product was any good, it’s going to be offering a great result, and that is going to acquire some work on your part, and you don’t want to just drop someone into the middle of the work phase of something, you know, without all the supporting stuff that goes on with it.

Clay: Absolutely. All right, well, I think this is probably the longest discussion I’ve ever heard in my entire life on opt-in bribes.

Andy: Quite possibly, quite possibly.

Clay: Cool. Well, I want to thank you everyone for joining Andy and I today. This was an awesome discussion. Thanks for joining our head coach Andy and myself for The Marketing Show podcast. We’ll talk to you next week.

[0:21:38] End of Audio

  • “68 Ways to Burn Belly Flab with Fabulous Desserts”

  • Great podcast, just subscribed in Pocket Casts and catching up. I really like your explanation of why you have to change what your free offering is.

    This is a bit off topic question, but I am getting ready to start my own podcast. I see you use Buzzsprout and I was wondering why you chose them over Libsyn or Blubrry? Just trying to figure out my hosting options. Leaning towards Libsyn but definitely want to know more.

    • Adam! So glad you’re liking this Podcast.

      I have no idea about the differences between Buzzsprout and Libsyn. @AndyFossett:disqus mad that call and I totally trust him. Any insights Andy?

      At a glance, Buzzsprout looks better. But Andy should be able to clarify.


      • Thanks Clay, thinking more about this is also somewhat changing how my sales funnel for new clients is going. Felt like I needed to add more free stuff, so instead of it being Cold Call to Free Consultation to Close, now it is Cold Call to Value Packed Webinar with Close at the end and then follow up close after that for people who didn’t sign up on the webinar.

        I’m also just getting started podcasting so my first shows are going to be very short but just to get the hang of it. Thanks again for asking Andy Fossett too.

        • Start where you are and keep taking steps. Podcasting can be fun – I really hope it comes across that Clay and I and enjoying the hell out of this…

    • Basically, it goes like this:

      Libsyn has the same clunky UI and workflow it did years ago. Buzzsprout it pretty and a joy to use. I like rainbows and unicorns, so I chose the latter.

      Honestly, ether will get the job done, but I prefer working with services that make updates and give great support.

      • Thanks very much @AndyFossett:disqus that makes a lot of sense. I will just get started and I can always try others later if it comes down to it.

  • Matthew Lee

    Great info. And great twist to diy to dfy. Feedback – I woild have found this 10x more valueable if tuis was transcribed below the audio podcast player…I just saw a big marketer (wont name him here- he is a leadplayer subscriber) he explained there are multiple benefits- SEO, appeasing picky ppl like me (lol). In turn increasing people that subscribe & buy. I am selfishly maoing this suggestion but I know you will make money from this.

    • Hi Matthew,

      Thanks for the suggestion. All of our podcasts will eventually be transcribed. We do transcription in a batch about once per month for SEO purposes. So until we increase the speed of our workflow, you can get what you need if wait a month to read our podcasts :-). We’ll probably improve our workflow sometime in the next year, but at the moment we have other priorities.

      Warm regards,

    • But my cheery demeanor doesn’t come across in a transcript…