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Followbright Owner Erin Pheil Interviewed in Webinar on Offering Website “Freebies”

By Erin  |   Business Website Tips | Followbright News

Webinar Interview on Offering Freebies

Last year I was interviewed by author, marketing consultant to the creative industry, and national speaker Ilise Benun on the topic of offering free, premium content (think downloads, reports, etc.) on business websites.

Though I’ve never been a huge fan of the word “freebie” because it makes high quality content sound a bit.... well, cheap, the concept is the same no matter what you call it:

  • Offer
  • Freebie
  • Premium content
  • Ebook
  • Report
  • Download
  • Free bonus

The webinar was targeted at freelancers, solopreneurs, and small businesses in the creative industry (copywriting, graphic design, web design, etc.)—however, the content of the webinar is equally applicable and relevant to businesses outside of the creative industry.

Listen to the webinar...

Have a listen here to the audio recording, (available only in iTunes).

Or if you prefer, read the transcript...

ILISE B.: Hello everybody. This is Ilise Benun of and host of the Creative Freelancer Conference, which is coming up soon. And I am here today with Erin Pheil of Followbright. Erin, are you there?

ERIN PHEIL: I am here.

IB: Excellent. Would you please introduce yourself to our listeners and tell them who you are, where you are, and what you do.

EP: Sure. My name is Erin Pheil. I’m with Followbright Creative Media. We are in Frisco, Colorado, which is up in the Rocky Mountains. We’re about 90 minutes or so west of Denver. We have been around since 2002 and we’re a Web strategy, marketing, design, and development company. And we focus on helping small and mid-size businesses improve their online Web presences.

IB: And one of the things I like and appreciate about your positioning and your Web site is the emphasis that you put on the results of the work that you do as opposed to the quote-unquote creativity. And I do think that that’s one of the things that makes you stand out.

EP: Thank you very much. And I suppose I should share that our Web site is at

IB: Beautiful. So people can go and take a look and see what I mean. And today we want to talk about some things that are actually on your Web site that we’ll be directing people to that are related to the column I’ve written for HOW about what I am calling freebies and bait pieces, which is relevant information that you provide to the people who you have identified as your best prospects in such a way that you can capture content information and build a list of good prospects for you that you can market to.

EP: Correct. Yes.

IB: And I’ve identified you, Erin, as someone who is doing that and doing it well. So I wanted you to share a little bit about how you do it. What is your approach? That’s my first question, is what is your approach to these freebies or bait pieces?

EP: Our approach. We think of it as freebies are what allow us to turn a lot of the traffic that we work so hard to get into actual leads. Because not everybody that comes to our Web site is ready to buy. Not everybody’s ready to pick up the phone and request a conversation or consultation or say OK, we’re ready right now to build a new Web site or to engage in a Web site improvement process. So if you think of a marketing funnel, and everybody at the bottom is ready to buy, you have all of these people coming into the site who are higher up in the funnel and you want to kind of move them down toward being ready to buy and nurture them as they move down the funnel. So you need to have something of value to give those people, otherwise they can leave your site without anything. They can leave your site and you won’t have captured their information, you won’t know anything about them. And they very well may not come back. They may not remember you. So freebies allow us to basically take traffic and turn it into leads.

IB: And so you just said you have to have something of value and I can hear perhaps listeners thinking to themselves, what do I have of value that I can provide to these people? So what do you have of value, Erin?

EP: We have tips and basic information. I think sometimes creatives take their knowledge and their skills and what they know for granted and assume that it’s basic or that everybody knows that. But your prospects want your expertise. And so when you can share that with people and provide – show your expertise, share general tips and information with them that they care about, that’s what  make a good freebie. So you want to think about what are the questions that my best prospects ask? What do they care about? What are their big concerns and what are their pains and fears? And what can I share with them? Just small pieces. What can I share with them that show I’m aware of that and that would help them?

IB: Can you give us some examples of your bait pieces?

EP: Sure. So one of the things that our prospects approach us with is they say that we want to make our Web site better, we’re just not sure how or what needs to be done. So we put together a – one of our offers or our freebies is our secret arsenal of Web site improvement tools. So it shows – it’s just a list with a short description for each item of different tools that companies can use to improve their Web sites. And it’s different ones we use for our clients. Another example would be a copywriting free report, because we do a lot of strategic copywriting for our clients. And we provide information about why copywriting is so important, because not everybody understands that, and the benefits that people can experience from it. So it gets them thinking about that where they may not have been thinking about it before. So those are a couple things.

IB: And actually – and let me just talk about that one because that's kind of interesting. You are a design firm and Web development firm and you’re offering information about copywriting, which I think is a really nice idea and probably for some of the listeners could be a good opportunity to partner with a copywriter who could also help with the writing of this freebie.

EP: Absolutely. Absolutely.

IB: Excellent. So then I imagine people are wondering, oh my God this sounds like a lot of work. Does it work? What kind of results, what kinds of things do you track? Tell us about the actual process.

EP: Sure. I can say that hands down it does work, or else we wouldn’t be doing it and we wouldn’t be planning to do more of it. So I highly recommend that people consider it and play around with it and try it for themselves. In terms of what we track, we track a lot here. One of the most important things we track is just the number of visits that we have to our actual freebie pages that are focused completely on the freebies and then have the conversion forms that ask for user name – or sorry, not user name – name and email address. We track how many people go to those pages and then how many people actually fill out the form and convert and download the form, or the PDF, or the offer. So we look at the percentage, the conversion percentage. We also A/B test our call to action buttons that we have sprinkled throughout the site to see what wording and what designs actually entice people to go to these pages. And then we also track how many of these people who download these freebies actually turn into customers or pick up the phone and call us. We see how they’re working for us. And as we track things over time, we’re able to see trends. And most importantly we’re able to see things that don’t work so we can go in and improve them instead of assuming that everything we’re doing is right and good. Which is definitely not the case. So it allows us to improve our marketing efforts over time.

IB: And I think that’s an important point also, that it does take time. Because I know a lot of people try certain marketing efforts and if it doesn’t produce a positive result immediately, they give it up and even believe it didn’t work. And so I like this idea of the A/B testing and the improving on the process. And really kind of figuring out what works best for you based on what you’re trying to accomplish. And that’s an important thing, too, to know what you’re trying to accomplish.

EP: Right.

IB: Good. Well, anything else you want to add, Erin?

EP: I guess the only thing that I’d want to add is just the reminder that these freebies don’t have to be extensive or complex. Something as simple as a one-page checklist or a resource list or a summary – like one tip that’s perhaps expanded. It can be short and sweet. Not everybody wants to read a 90-page e-book or even a 20-page list of recommendations. Those things can be overwhelming. So it sounds like a big step to start offering these on your site, but you can start really small. And you don’t have to track everything from the beginning. You can really improve your efforts over time. But taking the first small step and having just a very simple offer on your site, and perhaps just seeing what the interest is and tracking how many people grab it is a great way to just kind of dip your toes in the water and test this out for yourself.

IB: And actually, one last question, because I can just imagine people are thinking oh, that’s such a gimmick, that’s so gimmicky. I can’t be associated with that. What would you say to that, Erin?

EP: When you are on Web sites and you see offers and – offers for downloads – and it seems gimmicky, it’s because you’re probably not the right target audience. Or you’re not the right customer profile. When you’re on a site and you’re really interested in the product – like if you’re super sick and there’s a pill and it promises to do something for you and you see an offer where you can learn more or learn about your illness, suddenly those offers aren’t quite as gimmicky. It’s something you’re really interested in. So when you provide, again, something that’s of interest and that’s of value and that excites your prospects, it’s not gimmicky. They genuinely are interested in what you’re offering and will download it. For the people who don’t care about it, maybe it seems gimmicky. But those aren’t the people you care about.

IB: So you’re saying gimmickiness is in the eye of the beholder.

EP: I am.

IB: Beautiful. I agree with that. And all of us, I’m sure, have downloaded things that seemed like exactly the information we needed right then. And as long as there’s substance there and quality, then it’s doing its job.

EP: Yes. It’s all about providing value. That’s what we do as creatives and we have to remember that, that we do have things that our prospects want. And if we can think about that and be strategic and offer content that our prospects really care about and that will truly help them, instead of thinking of these as marketing pieces or advertisements, when we can focus on providing that value, that’s when things start coming together.

IB: Yeah, I agree with you. And actually, I can’t help but give a little plug for the post-conference workshop at CFC in San Francisco that’s going to be called You Don’t Know What You Know, with Mark O’Brien of because he’s basically going to help people create their content strategy and figure out what they know. So if you’re interested in that and it’s before June 24th, hopefully you will join us. Erin, once again, I thank you so much for sharing what you know. And give your Web address again so people can go there. And then in the link where this is going to be posted we’ll also show some examples of landing pages where you have some offers for people to see, yes?

EP: Yes, that’s correct. And our Web site is

IB: Beautiful. Thank you Erin and we will talk with you again soon.

EP: Thanks Ilise.

IB: Bye.

EP: Bye.

*** Bonus! ***

In case you missed it (and in case you don't have iTunes installed on the device you're using right now and can't listen to the webinar), back in January we posted an entire blog series on this very topic of generating high quality website leads by offering valuable, downloadable, premium content. 

If you're interested in learning more about this topic, I recommend you start with the first blog post in this series: *This* Is How We Keep Our Clients' Leads (and Our Own!) Rolling In....)

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