The Art of Using Freebies and Samples in Ecommerce

  • According to a popular saying, the best things in life are free. It turns out the best things in ecommerce are, too. This brings another saying to mind: “You have to give a little to get a little.” Bestowing the occasional freebie upon your customers shows them you appreciate their business. It’s really the least you can do. And actually, the benefits of doing so may reach farther than you anticipated. Read on to learn more about the art of using freebies and samples in ecommerce.

    Samples, Freebies and Gifts, Oh My

    Providing a small token can change the way your shoppers feel about your store. Samples, freebies and free gifts tap into the social psychology principle of reciprocity. As one behavioral economist notes in The Atlantic, “Reciprocity is a very, very strong instinct. If somebody does something for you, you feel a rather surprisingly obligation to do something back for them.”

    Thus, the first lesson of freebies is they don’t have to be big or expensive to be effective; the thought counts for a lot. Since it’s a bonus on top of what customers have actually purchased, it feels larger than life.

    Add a Free Gift with Purchase

    Let’s say a shopper is browsing your website—adding strong “maybe” items to their cart as they go—when they see a banner offering a free gift with purchase. Suddenly that cartload doesn’t seem so hypothetical; it seems worth it. Advertising and offering a free gift at checkout can help reduce cart abandonment rates by influencing customers to follow through on their intended purchases. Plus, it makes it easier for shoppers to justify the expenditures because they’re getting something in return.

    The best ecommerce website builder platforms make it easy to set up promotions triggering free gifts for customers. Shopify, for example, works with popular plug-in apps like Free Gifts and The Motivator to configure such offers behind the scenes.

    Surprise Customers During Unboxing

    Another way to deliver complimentary products is surprising your customers during unboxing. The benefit of slipping a surprise into the package is multi-fold: customers will be pleased, they will feel a surge of loyalty toward your brand and they may even share their positive experience on social media. GameKlip, which sells mounts to connect smartphones with video game controllers, recently included a pack of Smarties candy in each box. Based upon how many buyers shared news of this little treat with their friends and fellow forum users, the results were phenomenal.

    Picking the Right Freebies

    The key is matching freebies with your target audience. Do you sell shoes? Including some snazzy shoelaces will delight buyers, and they’ll remember your generosity when it comes time to switch out the default laces for your new ones. If you sell cosmetics, try including a sample size of your newest beauty product. Buyers be eager to test it out and they might even buy the full size if they like what they see and feel.

    Try a Giveaway

    A giveaway is a great way to spread brand awareness, attract new social media followers and generate aspirational sales. All you need is a set of parameters and a unique hashtag to get started. The goal here is to use freebies to leverage publicity—while showing your generous side to your shoppers. Put together a bundle representing your product lineup and post it on Facebook. Ask your followers to like the photo, tag a friend and share for their chance to win.

    Mastering the art of using freebies and samples in ecommerce is an ongoing endeavor. Start with these tips and make sure your freebies serve a larger purpose: building brand loyalty, garnering recognition, driving traffic and bonding with your shoppers.