If you’re reading this, then you’ve already realized that launching a website isn’t akin to opening the doors of a prime shop front on Fifth Avenue.
Instead, it’s closer to waking up on a deserted island in a vast ocean. Not a living soul knows where you are and no one is coming to rescue you.
The solution? Start a fire.
You need to get noticed and, on the Internet, there’s nothing more visible than something of value being given away for free. In this article, we’re going to explore six types of free content that you can use to generate traffic for your website, including real examples of each type.
Related Article: How to Integrate Social Media into Your Content Strategy
1. Give Away Some of Your Industry Secrets
If you’re the site that gives someone a light bulb moment, they’ll remember you forever. In order to provide that kind of information, you’re going to have to dish out a few of the secrets of the trade.
- Go where your competitors won’t and give insider advice.
- Ask yourself, what info would set you up as the ‘hero’ by saving people time?
- Break through the notion that you’ll be doing yourself out of business by giving people the real answers (quite the opposite will happen).
- Embrace being the first to spill the beans, from a branding perspective, that’s a powerful move.
Doing this makes you the ‘honest ones’, the company that actually cares enough about the customer to give away information that others refuse to impart without payment.
Here is an example of a company providing visitors with useful information that complements their paid services: Asia Internship Program
2. Answer Common Questions Your Customers Have
Creating an in-depth resource that answers common questions, in detail, and breaks down complicated aspects of your business sets you up as an authority in the industry and builds trust with new visitors.
- Use the question answer format rather than long paragraphs.
- Include data in the form of charts and graphs if possible.
- Link out to authoritative sources that support your claims.
- If you’re a local business, make sure your answers and data are localized too.
- Make your answers as precise and useful as possible.
Don’t skimp on the information. Studies have shown long-form and detailed articles rank highly in search engines. If you take the time to portray your expertise and professional pride in the resource, your visitors will know and give you the recognition you want in your industry.
Here is an example of a piece of content from my company’s website that establishes us as a local expert: Shift Insurance
3. Offer a Sample of Your Services
You wouldn't ask someone to marry you on the first date, would you? Well, asking consumers to give you money on their first visit without knowing who you are is just as crazy. Free consultations, quotes, and even group webinars can be a great way to break the ice and build trust between you and a potential new customer.
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- Think of a pain point your customers have and solve it with a low-cost service (for you) that has a high perceived value (for the customer).
- Research related businesses for fresh ideas on what you might be able to offer.
- If the lifetime value of your customer is high enough, it could make business sense to lose money on the initial offer.
- Once you’ve set up your free service offer, promote it via Adwords or Facebook ads.
Here is an example of a law firm offering free case evaluations as a way to generate leads: Hutchison & Stoy
4. Write an Honest Review
Bottom line, good reviews draw big traffic. On top of that, people are tired of biased reviews and misleading headlines. That’s why they will love you for a balanced and straight talking review of a product or service in your industry.
- Give an unbiased review and present both sides.
- Show your knowledge and expertise by getting technical.
- Go into as much detail as possible.
- Compare it to other similar products or services.
- Disclose any financial gain or affiliations with the product
Remember, honesty will build trust and long term customers. People can spot a promotional sales page presented as a review from a mile off and they won’t come back to your site after reading one. Transparency is key.
Here is an example of a well-balanced review with affiliate promotions: Power Moves
5. Create a Useful Online Tool
Offering visitors handy tools that they can use time and again is a tried and tested method of securing traffic and repeat visitors. These tools are often bookmarked and shared on social networks or even blogged about by enthusiasts. This kind of ‘sticky’ and viral content offers value that is hard to beat.
- Look at sites in your industry to see what tools they are offering.
- Don’t think that you have to be original, just be helpful.
- Look around the web for free or cheap scripts for tools already created.
- Don’t overcomplicate it. Simple tools, like calculators, can be very handy.
Here is an example of a site offering an index of tools in the form of a resource page: Stars & Catz Music Teacher Network
6. Give Away a Free Download
Free product downloads have worked extremely well for Internet marketers like Neil Patel. The beauty from a business’ point of view is that once created, they are free for you to market and remarket over and over. These types of promotions do well on social media and are effective at generating a buzz around your product or service.
- Look around to see what sites in your industry are offering.
- Create something of value like eBooks, PDF how-to guides, audio recordings, informational videos, webinar, or short courses
- Think about asking for something in return, such as the visitor subscribing to your newsletter or posting about you on social networks.
Here is an example of a company giving away the very product they are selling for free: Resume Shoppe