Demian Farnworth makes a good point on Copyblogger in his look at the free content trap writers always fall into. He clarifies it like this:
You can’t expect me to exchange my email address for that little bit of information — especially since there are thousands of other people, companies, and institutions enticing me with free content in exchange for my email address.
Your copy — even for free products — must build a formidable argument on why I’d be stupid to walk away from this particular content. I still may walk away, but I should regret it. — Demian Farnworth
Why does only putting a “little bit of information” on a page offering free content backfire? Because it doesn’t convince the reader, who probably does not know the value of your offering.
Failure To Convince
We often assume our audience already is convinced of certain things. In a real-life setting, I recently got one of those “free dinner” invitations. All we had to do was sit through a presentation on something I no longer recall. Why don’t I remember? Because that dinner didn’t seem like it would be worth finding out about whatever they were selling. It was easy to pass by.
If that postcard had more information and some convincing arguments for learning more about the product, I might have been willing to sit through a presentation telling me more about it, even if a dinner was not promised.
Free Content Must Have Value
Online, it’s just as easy to leave a website as it is to throw away a postcard. If the subject of that promised presentation was something I already was interested in, I’d see the value of that free dinner. On your website, free content offered for an email address has to be something the audience is already convinced has value, or it will be unwanted.
If your free e-book or other freebies don’t have any takers, it’s time to examine the way they are presented.
People do love freebies — but if they don’t think the freebie is worth the trouble, there’s a good chance the freebie will be ignored. That autoresponder series of quick lessons on using your product? Waste of time if they don’t see the value of the product. The white paper on technique analysis? Yawn. Why analyze technique?
Marketers use freebies to get people out of the crowd and into the sales funnel. But you have to figure out your sales funnel and convince them that freebie is valuable in order to get any takers.