Before I reveal the answer, let’s dive in to what 2 Free + Shipping actually is. In short, it’s a marketing strategy that involves selling something small value & educational — a book or DVD.
Technically though, the book/DVD is actually free — but the person purchasing it has to pay for postage — usually something like $4.99. Not only does the purchaser get the educational product, they get something else for free that is similar and also useful. A set of free educational videos for example.
Hence the 2 Free + Shipping.
The order form will look something like this:
So why have businesses been using this model? Primarily for lead generation. Somebody taking the effort and paying $4.99 for a book are warmer and more qualified as a lead than those on a database that don’t buy.
This model is definitely not to make money on the postage. If anything, businesses using this model will make a small loss on every one. Think about it, not only is there postage to pay for — but the book itself, somebody to pack it all together etc. It adds up.
Before I went self employed I worked for a place that had used this model in the past and I’m 100% confident they made a loss on every single order.
So those who order the book are instantly identified as a warmer lead and somebody to target using other marketing. But the model is also based for usage in a sales funnel.
Upon purchasing, the person isn’t just greeted by a thank you message on their screen — oh no. They’re now onto just another page in a sales funnel, offering to sell them somebody else at more value. Usually $37 worth. If they then purchase this, they are offered something more for around $297. Usually that’s when the funnel stops.
It’s these up-sells that usually cover the costs of running the whole model — with the long term return on investment being in the warmer leads to sell to.
This model has been used a lot over the last few years. But the question is, as we near the final quarter of 2019 does this strategy still work?
No it does not, not any more. Like any marketing strategy or platform, its died out. And there are 3 very good reasons for this:
Firstly, this is a strategy that so many businesses used to use. As such, so many people have become used to the model. They know that an advert promoting a free book usually means there are postage costs involved. They also know it’s just the start of a sales funnel, and they expect to be up sold to.
There’s an ever increasing demand for electronic books — eBooks. They’re environmentally friendly, not bulky to carry around and are just more time efficient.
But this completely ruins the 2 + shipping model. The whole pretence is to have an excuse to charge $4.99 and start people down a sales funnel. There is no chance of charging any small amount for delivery of an electronic book!
And ultimately, there are just way better marketing strategies that can deliver warm leads with more short & long term profit.
2 Free + Shipping has had its day. It worked well, definitely reaching it’s peak in 2016–17. But people change and adapt — and that is the key takeaway here. The best Marketing methods, advertisements, models in the world will not work forever. Sure, work hard and find something that works well for your business, and see the leads & profit roll in.
But don’t then think your job as a marketer is done. Start thinking about new strategies, and have several ready in place for the day when the current one starts to falter — because it will.
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