How do you feel about getting a free gift? 

My eldest daughter ordered an item from an eBay seller this week, and on it’s arrival, as she was ripping the packaging to shreds like a frenzied animal, so desperate was she to reach the contents, a lollipop plopped out and fell to the floor!

She hadn’t ordered a lollipop – the main product was a t-shirt – but she did appear to be quite excited about the fact that she had received a little freebie with her order!

You might have noticed that some companies advertise ‘free gift with order’ on their websites – items such as lollipops, chocolate bars, tea bags, make-up samples and sometimes branded promotional gifts such as keyrings, mugs and so on.

But why? Is there any need? And should you adopt a similar tactic if you don’t have a website but do sell on eBay or Amazon?

I was asked this question just the other day, and it’s also a topic I cover in my eSeller Mastery Programme – which I must remind you, will be reopening it’s doors in just a few days time.

If you haven’t popped your name on the ‘early-bird’ list to ensure you receive the details when they are released, you still have time, just go here 

So, back to the freebies and in my opinion, it does all depend on what you sell, along with other factors such as the time of year.

First though, let’s consider a few of the potential reasons that you might include a freebie with an order…

Free gifts appeal to buyers…because they are ‘free’!

It’s a psychological thing. Everybody likes to think they might be getting something for nothing (even though they know that the price of the freebie is probably in there somewhere!). All buyers see is ‘free gift’ because they are simply focused on the ‘free’ part. In fact, perhaps you opened and read this eletter today only because I mentioned the word free in the subject line and you wanted to know what was ‘free’!

Free gifts can help a potential buyer make the decision to purchase from you rather than from another seller

Let’s say that you are offering for sale the exact same product as your competitor. You need to set yourself apart from them to ensure that you get the sales, and this is where the freebie comes in. You’re offering an extra, something slightly different. As an eBay or Amazon seller, you can even price your main product higher than your competitors, then add a free gift (and advertise this in your listing and potentially in your title keywords if you have space available without removing more relevant keywords) and still make the same (or more) sales than your competitor, simply because you have added ‘perceived value’ to your product by way of the gift.

Free gifts can be used to keep your business alive in the minds of your buyers

If you include an unadvertised free gift with every order you dispatch – for example a promotional keyring, mug or mouse mat with your company name on it – that item is quite likely to be used daily and therefore keeps your business and products in the minds of your buyers which ultimately can mean future sales for you. An unadvertised free gift can also help you receive positive feedback from buyers because they weren’t expecting the gift and it’s a nice surprise. They will remember you!

Free gifts can be used to help clear slower selling lines of stock

Every business, at some time or another, has a product that loses its pizazz and sales slow down or stop altogether. If this happens, you can list the product to include a free gift to make the original item appear more desirable or just better value.

So, what type of free gift should you include?

This is always going to depend on your main product. You can actually add lollipops, chocolate or sweets to anything – particularly if it’s Christmas or Easter or a particular time of year – and these are usually best sent as an unadvertised freebie – in other words you don’t mention that the product will be dispatched with a free gift.

The reason for this is that a lollipop or bar of chocolate is not really going to entice a potential buyer to choose your product over a different one, but it’s a nice added touch when the order arrives and can result in good feedback. Also – just a word of warning – chocolate can melt, get squashed and potentially leak from its wrapper – so it’s not the best item to consider sending with clothes!

Now consider those branded promotional gifts. These can work as an advertised or unadvertised freebie and suit most markets and can really help you stand out from your competition. It’s always best to try and tie in the gift with the main product – i.e. make it relevant, and practical. So, for example, if you sell computer accessories, a free branded mouse mat would make a relevant and practical gift.

If you sell kitchen products, a free branded bottle opener could work. If you sell motoring accessories, a free branded keyring is an idea. These are all things that people have the potential to use on a daily basis meaning your product or brand will be seen regularly and automatically – it’s a walking advertisement.

The most important point here, is that if you are going to use freebies as advertised gifts to help increase your sales or make yourself unique compared to your competition, the item needs to be absolutely relevant to the main product.

There’s no point in giving away a free make-up brush if you are selling training shoes. There’s no relevance to giving away a free pack of tea bags if you are selling camera cases. There is relevance in giving away a free note-pad if you are selling stationery or a free stylus pen if you are selling e-reader cases or a free pair of socks if you are selling hiking boots though…do you see!

Providing costs are not too high free gifts can work extremely well from a marketing point of view and increasing future sales. You must purchase in bulk at low prices though, otherwise you’ll simply eat into your profits.

And you don’t need your own website to use this strategy. If you sell on eBay or Amazon you can test this out and see how it works for you. Do let me know how you get on!