What Is A Free Tier?
"Free" is a powerful word. "Buy 1 Get 1 Free", Free Samples, Free Shipping, Lead Magnets are all strategies that utilize the power of free.
We all know how free blog posts, free YouTube videos and lead magnets are used to attract people and build an audience.
Unfortunately the results bloggers and other content creators get out of these are often disappointing. They put a fair amount of work into creating blog posts, videos, etc only to get a handful of page views.
We will be looking at ways to get this to the next level.
The Traditional Money-for-Product Model
In traditional business you buy a product and then consume it.
- You are expected to pay for electronics, clothes, food, books or courses upfront. This is considered "fair business".
- There is also a high ticket/premium business model. Specialists can charge incredibly high prices. If the hospital says your surgery costs $25,000, then that's what you pay. Similarly, premium brands like Apple can charge $1,000 for an iPhone or Nike can charge hundreds of dollars for a pair of shoes.
The "Remove The Paywall" Approach
Instead of demanding money upfront, the free tier strategy is about delivering outstanding value first and make money later on the back end.
The term “Moving the Free Line” was coined by internet marketer Eben Pagan. It is a marketing strategy to give away a high quality asset (a tool, app, training, etc, that people would normally pay for) upfront in order to build a relationship with a potential customer.
Removing the "paywall" strategically creates a viral effect that exponentially multiplies the amount of leads businesses can acquire for their backend services.
The value pulls the prospect forward from one point of conversion to the next rather than forcing them along with pop-ups or opt-in gates.
Several companies use this strategy and have their income in the hundred thousand and million dollar range as a result.
- WordPress is a complex platform owned by Automattic. They could easily charge money for it, but instead they give it away for free. Automattic generates a $120.3M yearly revenue on WordPress.com by selling advertising on people's free blogs. If you choose their paid hosting plans, you get additional premium upgrades such as the ability to hide ads, purchase domains, additional disk space, premium themes, etc. As WordPress has grown in popularity, there has been an increase in the number of businesses that sell WordPress-related products / services. This has increased the commercial interest in the further development of the open-source WordPress software.
- The Facebook app, its Messenger and Instagram apps are also complex platforms that could charge membership fees. They have billions of users and they sell advertising on the backend.
- Same story with Pinterest.
- Google, in addition to its search platform, also offers 20+ always free products on its Google Cloud platform. Its always free F1-micro instance comes with 0.2 virtual CPUs, 0.6 GB of RAM and 30 GB HDD.
- Amazon has its AWS Free Tier, designed to give you hands-on experience with a range of AWS services at no charge. For example, you can explore AWS as a platform for your business by setting up a test website with a server and database. You can also try out services for developers. When you create an AWS account, you are automatically signed up for the free tier for 12 months. Your free tier eligibility expires at the end of the 12-month period. When your free tier expires, AWS starts charging the regular rates for any AWS services and resources that you are using.
- Free email, radio channels, TV — these all follow the same model.
- Your blog, your YouTube channel
You would never imagine any of these companies give away a “free checklist” to sign up for their platforms, right?
Or, do you ever see them write blog posts to target a keyword? They don’t care about content marketing, keywords, links, still they have more traffic than you can ever hope for. They are beyond SEO.
I am not telling you that giving away a free checklist won’t work. It can and some bloggers make decent money out of such lead magnets. But it is important to think outside the box.
The Perversion of Free
There's an ugly habit I've seen floating around online… ugly, virtually unusable lead magnets.
We have been bombarded with with these kinds of offers:
- Download my free PDF that doesn't fulfill my clickbait promise
- Sign up to watch my 'value filled' free masterclass that is half sales pitch
- I'll give you my 'free' book if you pay 3x what it costs to ship it to you
The underlying strategies do work, but the pretense makes the market skeptical. The result is overwhelm and people develop immunity against such offers.
Example: How about the following skimpy 1-page ‘checklist’ to boost your Pinterest traffic:
- Remember that Pinterest's audience is largely female.
- Fill out your profile name, bio, board names and descriptions with
- Turn your profile into a business profile and apply for Rich Pins
- Create board covers and fill out your boards with some content from
- Join some group boards!
I am not joking, I actually downloaded the above as a lead magnet.
The problem with such useless lead magnets is that they waste time—both yours to create them, and your users to sign up for them. Plus, when a new subscriber excitedly opens up your lead magnet just to find that it’s a dud, they’re going to be looking for the Unsubscribe button or just not open your emails.
Over-promising and under-delivering with a PDF resource can damage new relationships. (So, make sure you’re meeting every new subscriber on the right foot.)
In this scenario, nobody’s getting the results they’re hoping for. (Not to mention the fact that those quick unsubscribes hurt your email deliverability AND your brand. The new subscriber is definitely NOT going to share your lead magnet or your future posts if you didn’t wow them from the get-go!)