Professional PDF slides, gift cards, or a prize draw for an iPad are just a few ideas for free gifts.

So, you’ve spent your entire advertising budget for this one webinar event, but are having major anxiety over the number of people that will show up and stick around long enough to hear your pitch. What do you do? Suffer?

No way. Totally unnecessary.

Offering your webinar audience a free gift for sticking around and watching the entire event is the way to go… it’s an uber successful motivator and is the perfect marketing strategy for increasing conversion and webinar stay time. It helps to encourage that small portion of your audience who, like me, have trouble sitting still for more than five minutes to stay until the end and have a chance to see your pitch.

Plus, it has the added benefit of bringing warm fuzzies to you, your business, and your brand.

“You mean I’m getting this great free webinar AND a free gift, just for watching? These guys are awesome!”

See that, there? See how that works?

Giving a free gift to those attendees that stay until the end of your webinar is an uber successful way of increasing stick.Some wretched person may try to call this “bribery”. You stop that, right now. It’s not. Why do we have to label such a great, profitable, ethical marketing technique with something that sounds so shady?

*Okay, I’ve just had it pointed out to me that in recent articles I’ve labeled various marketing practices indoctrination, brainwashing, and possession. Eek! It’s no wonder marketers have such a bad rep. Moving swiftly on…

In a previous article we considered the virtues of giving your webinar audience a free gift, merely for showing up. And, however you choose to label it, the fact remains that this is an effective, benign method of increasing webinar-stick and, consequently, your sales conversions.

This practice, however, does raise some interesting questions… 5 actually.

Question: How do you ensure people don’t show up to the webinar just to get the freebie?

Answer: There is no way to predict or prevent this. Sorry. There will always be people who can’t resist the opportunity to get something for nothing. That said, you can remove the likelihood of attracting hordes of tire-kickers with just a couple of simple strategy tweaks.

The first is to keep quiet about the free gift until AFTER webinar registration. Remember, this is a different beast to the freemium you’re using to increase registration conversions (you must read here before creating your next one). This particular free gift is to encourage registrants to show up to the live event and get them to stay to the end once they do.

If you don’t reveal the news about the free gift until after registration (this can be either on the Registration “Thank You” page or in the warm-up emails), then you can be confident that the vast majority of people to whom you’re offering the freebie have at least some interest in the webinar itself.

The second strategy is to hold off on the actual presentation of the free gift until the end of the webinar. Or, at the very least, until the end of your sales presentation.

You should mention the free gift near the beginning of the webinar, so that your audience knows you haven’t forgotten about it and are keeping your promise, but don’t actually give out the link until much later.

The gift is a “thank you” for attending and watching the webinar, not just for turning up to the opening five minutes. There’s no reason whatsoever why you shouldn’t hold off on the giveaway until the end.

Question: How do I avoid the free gift distracting people from my Offer?

Answer: This is another reason why it’s smart to mention the free gift at the outset, but hold off on the delivery until after your pitch has concluded.

But you also need to be careful that the NATURE of the freebie doesn’t turn people away from your offer. You want your gift to be impressive, but not so much that people are tempted to just put all their efforts into utilizing the freebie.

Carefully compare your Free Gift with your Offer and make sure there’s no conflict.

Another great strategy is to consider putting your freebie download at the bottom of your order page, next to the “Terms and Conditions” link. Having attendees land on your order page where they must scroll past all the goodies you’re selling to get to the freebie is incredibly beneficial.

Case in point…. Over the weekend, I went to Target with a gift card in hand for $25. My intention was to run in, buy dog treats, and run out. $350 later… You see, I just couldn’t resist all the beautifully displayed objects of my desire and happiness. There’s nothing more tempting than seeing the glorious products strategically displayed in your line of vision, even when you only mean to get Biscuits for your hounds and go.

Make sure, however, that you put the freebie link in a zip file so that, when your customer clicks on the link, it doesn’t bounce them away from the order page. The more time a person spends on your order page – especially when they can still hear you in the background, busily hosting the post-sales offer Q&A session – the more likely they are to make a purchase.

Professional PDF slides, gift cards, or a prize draw for an iPad are just a few ideas for free gifts.Question: What kind of free gift should I give away?

Answer: The gift should be attractive enough that it could reasonably be considered something you would ordinarily pay money for, but not so amazing that it distracts from your Offer.

Aim for the sweet spot. The hallowed middle ground.

Some people like to give away the slides that were used on the webinar. While this is a nice freebie to offer, it’s not really going to get people excited. In fact, these days, getting a copy of the slides is almost standard issue.

Try spicing it up a bit by turning the slides into a set of professionally organized notes, or a step-by-step PDF guide. Turning your slides into something that can more readily be consumed, and referred back to, goes above and beyond what people expect, while at the same time avoiding the trap of giving away something that weakens the allure of your product or service.

You could even turn the webinar content into a short PDF report that you announce is going to go on sale in the future, but that they can have today, free of charge. This carries an obvious monetary value that fulfills the purpose of giving away a gift, but avoids the audience becoming distracted because it only contains what they’ve just seen/heard.

Your audience will value the idea of being able to review the report in a few weeks or months,  to refresh their memory, without immediately wanting to disconnect from the webinar and dive in.

The one freebie type we would suggest you avoid is a discount off of one of your other products or services. This looks less like a free gift and more like a sales ploy, and truly runs the risk of turning people off.

Question: Does a prize draw count as a free gift?

Answer: It does, indeed!

Providing a prize is something that will genuinely excite people.

An iPad or Amazon gift card will get people’s attention. A toaster-oven, not so much (unless your webinar is about How to Cook 30 Minute, One Pan Dinners in Your Toaster Oven for $5 a Night or Less).

In fact, if positioned correctly, a prize draw can get even more attention than a free gift. Although, to be on the safe side, consider offering a free gift in addition to the prize draw. There will always be the naysayers who consider any contest impossible to win. You want everyone walking away feeling happy, lucky, or better off than they were before the webinar began.

Here, as with any free gift strategy, the timing is important. A good process is to run the prize draw at the very beginning of the webinar (encouraging people to show up on time), but hold off on announcing the winner until the end of the event. Naturally, your audience members must still be on the webinar when the winner is announced if they want to claim their prize.

Final Question: Is this really worth the effort?

Final Answer: Yes!

Webinar audiences are like snowmen on a sunny day. From the moment you gather your (hopefully large) pool of registrants, every subsequent step will see some of them fall away.

Some won’t make it to the live event.

Some will attend but log out before the end.

Some will stay to the end but won’t make a purchase.

None of this is anything to worry about. It’s the same experience for every webinar host (and, come to think of it, most online marketing strategies). The trick is to employ every strategy you can to maximize conversions, increase stick, and decrease loss of your leads.

A free gift, or prize draw, takes very little effort or cost to add to your marketing mix, but it can have a substantial effect on the overall success of your webinar.

Fun fact: Did you know that using WebinarJam to stream your webinars creates a downloadable recording that you can edit to suit any need? These recordings can be offered as truly one of a kind free gifts, or freemiums.  You can even try it out for free today!

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Jeni Jenkins

News Anchor turned Editor turned Registered Nurse, Jeni has now come full circle and returned to her passion, writing, full time. As the Editor-in-Chief, she brings a unique voice to the marketing arena with her broad experience from years in the Customer Success department, melding her firsthand knowledge of our community needs with the powerful tools that Genesis Digital offers.