In my last post, I wrote about the proven marketing strategy of giving away a free ebook. One of the common debated questions between online business people is how to give away your ebook. On one camp, some people say you should never give away your ebook without asking for an email address in return. There are variations to this method. Some people ask for an RSS subscription instead of an email address. On the other hand, many internet marketers say it’s better to make your giveaway truly free and not ask for anything in return.
Ask For Email Addresses or Not?
I think the answer to this question depends on your goals and your industry audience.
If your goal is reach the most number of people, you should not ask for email addresses. Many people are reluctant to giveaway their email address because they think businesses might spam them. Also, since you’ll reach more people, this means you’ll get more links and that will lead to a better SEO ranking. For example, David Meerman Scott currently has the fifth ranking for the term viral marketing with his ebook, The New Rules of Viral Marketing. He doesn’t ask for email addresses whenever he releases his free ebooks.
However, if your goal is to gain a powerful communication channel, then building an email mailing list is the right call.
Basically, it boils down to the old “quality versus quantity” dilemma. If you don’t ask for email addresses, you’ll get a lot more leads and you’ll spread word about your business and blog farther and wider across the net. But, those leads won’t be the highest quality since you won’t have a way of keeping in touch with them. If you collect email addresses, you won’t get as much traffic or as many leads, but your leads will be higher quality since you can repeatedly contact them through their email address.
Also, consider the audience of your industry. Some audiences are more receptive to giving away their email address. Other audiences like younger ones don’t even check email on a regular basis.
If you don’t know your audience well enough, it might be worth it to just test both methods. Use one method for your first ebook. After that ebook launch, wait a couple weeks and then release your second ebook with the other method. Then, compare the data and see which method brought more sales.
Also, look around your industry. What method seems to be having more success?
Both Methods Work Well
One great thing about choosing between these two methods is both methods work well. The action of giving away a free ebook puts you way ahead of most online businesses. Your task is to figure out which method is better for your business, but don’t worry too much about making the wrong choice. As long as you have a quality, relevant ebook and work hard to promote it, you’ll get great benefits with either method.
There are successful online business people and social media experts that disagree with other about the methods. Compare David Meerman Scott and Rich Schefren. Both are successful business men. They are also considered social media experts within the internet marketing community. Yet David gives away his ebooks without asking for anything while Rich uses his free ebooks to build a list.
Which method do you think is better for your online business?