Freebie Marketing: Why You Should Start Giving Away Freebies from Your Business

freebie marketing: an effective strategy

When going to the department store, one of the things that really catch our eyes is the freebie station. More than the word ‘sale’, ‘free’ invokes excitement within us. There’s something about it that can easily make you change your route even if you have strictly told yourself to take the straight path from the essentials aisle to the payment counters. If you feel the same way about freebies, then you should know that it’s perfectly normal. And if you run a business (which I believe you are because you are reading this), then why not use it as a strategy to increase following and customers?

What is a freebie?

Aside from a freebie being something that excites everyone, it is a term that refers to a thing that is given to someone free of charge. It could also be a product or a service that is offered as some part of a promotion. One classic yet popular example of a freebie is the ‘buy one, get one’ promo, wherein you can buy a certain item at a regular price and get an extra item of the same kind for free.

Other types of freebies include giving people something for free just for entering a store or signing up for newsletters.

Though most freebies are given in person, freebies can also be applied in the digital world of marketing. Called freebie marketing, businesses and online stores can reap the benefits of having higher engagement and following.

What is freebie marketing?

Freebie marketing is a popular marketing strategy that uses a resource and gives it to audiences and customers for free to gain sales, hype, or brand recognition. It is a way to lure customers and make them notice your business.

For example, an apparel business can distribute headbands for free to customers who visit their store.

However, the good news is that traditional or face-to-face freebie marketing is not the only way to do the strategy anymore. It can also be done online by online stores and ecommerce websites.

What is the psychology behind freebie marketing?

Have you ever wondered about what is so attractive about freebies? Why do hundreds of businesses continue to use it to attract customers? The truth is that it isn’t all just about attracting customers but also about gaining a good following and keeping customers loyal to them. So how does this freebie marketing work?

Whether it be free samples, free trials, or buy-one-take-one promos, this four-letter word is definitely irresistible. And oftentimes, it’s not what is given away that matters, but the thought of getting something without paying for it.

Duke Professor Dan Ariely in his paper at MIT says that the word ‘free’ can give people so much emotional charge that we see the freebies as more valuable than what they actually are. And because freebies are hard to resist, they can increase sales by up to 2000 percent. And this works fairly effectively in both onsite and digital marketing. However, the feeling of getting something without any cost also contradicts another human nature, which is feeling accomplished and proud when we are able to pay for something.

When a person sees freebies while shopping at their favorite clothing outlet store, he is immediately drawn to it. And after receiving an item for free, he then feels obligated to return the favor. There develops the feeling of wanting to buy something from that store. It’s like wanting to do something for someone who has been extra nice to us.

This can be explained by the psychological tactics used in marketing, where reciprocity is the most popular and highly used strategy.

Reciprocity gives people a feeling of needing to make a future repayment and the feeling of being indebted until such repayment has been made. It’s such a very strong rule of behavior that you can rarely find a country or ethnicity that doesn’t have this culture. Fortunately (for businesses) and unfortunately (for buyers), this feeling is automatic and is something that we don’t have control over.

The case of American Eagle’s freebie marketing

Let’s take for example the freebie marketing tactic of American Eagle, a popular US clothing brand, in their online marketing strategies. When they send their promotional emails, they catch their audience’s attention through the subject line.


Anyone who sees such a subject line will definitely be intrigued. It clearly speaks of a freebie while keeping the mystery by not revealing it right away, prompting the recipient to open the email.

Then, in the body, they continue to keep the mystery…

This is an effective body that ignites curiosity [credit to[

Then, finally revealing what it really is.

A great way to reveal the mystery gift. [credit to]

From this example, we can say that American Eagle successfully combined exclusivity and scarcity to get its recipient to accept the freebie.

What are the benefits of freebie marketing?

The benefits of freebie marketing have already been proven a long time ago both in personal and digital marketing. But many are still hesitant, thinking that it is counterintuitive to gaining sales. So here are the top benefits of freebie marketing.

1. Branding

Brand awareness is extremely important to any business and one of the many goals of freebie marketing. Giving away freebies is beneficial to all businesses, big and small, but most especially to companies that still have less consumer awareness. When your target market learns about your brand and does so in a positive light (ex. Freebies), your brand awareness increases.

2. An increased fan base

This needs no explanation. It’s just natural for people to be happy with a brand that offers them something free of charge. They’d be more than willing to spread the word through their friends, family, and colleagues, which definitely increases the fan base.

Let’s take for example the case of Toms Shoes. They are undeniably a very popular shoe brand in the world. How do you think did they acquire this level of popularity? It’s through their special promotion. However, they didn’t really give away their shoes for free, but they gave away one pair of shoes for every pair a customer bought. But the free pair didn’t go to the customer but was sent to the developing world. Though patrons don’t actually benefit from the give-away, people are still satisfied knowing what Toms Shoes does.

Tom's Shoes successfully gained a solid following. [credit to]

This is actually one of the long-term benefits of this kind of freebie marketing. People are likely going to remember this gesture and will buy more when they know where their money goes into.

3. Helps create a buzz

When people learn about freebies being given away, they feel enthusiasm and excitement. And when they do, they talk about it, especially on social media.

4. Increase sign-ups and drives traffic to your website

Let’s not forget how useful freebie marketing is to email marketing. When you give freebies, you can do it in exchange for something from your customers like their email addresses. Doing so can widen your email database and allow you to reach more people.

Also, people who hear about your freebies will automatically visit your website to avail of your promo, resulting in higher traffic.

5. Builds trust

Consumers buy more from businesses that they trust, making it important for you to build trust with your target market. You can do this through freebie marketing. When you give away your products without cost, it can make people see that you are confident of its quality and that you know it will deliver to its promise.

Types of Freebie Marketing

If you’re ready to take the plunge and engage in freebie marketing to grow your business, here are some types that you should consider.

1. Limited-Time Offers

Setting a time limit can help increase sales [credit to]

This type of freebie can be combined with other promotions whether you’re offering free shipping or discount codes. By setting a time limit, you are increasing your chances for high conversions because there is the sense of urgency and scarcity in the product. This can also trigger the consumer’s ‘fear of missing out’.

Some types of limited-time offers include limited-time discounts, limited-time free shipping, and limited-time freebies.

2. Daily Deals

Daily deals are effective in converting prospects and leads into customers, but they can be a bit expensive because the deal is changed every day. Understandably, many businesses simply cannot afford a daily deal for their customers.

However, daily deals don’t necessarily mean putting a new deal every day all year through. You can do this in certain seasons like Christmas. This season is highly recommended because people feel festive, and they are more inclined to make purchases.

3. Mystery Offers

Mystery offers invoke curiosity and excitement that leads consumers to open your email. Remember the case with American Eagle and how they hid the incentive to make people really open their mail?

Another case in point is Chubbies. If you look at their Black Friday deals, you’ll see that they have a unique way of keeping the mystery in their freebies.

Chubbies intelligently created mystery on this promo [credit to]

4. Subscriber Specials

Discounts have always been a popular promotional strategy. However, you need to use it with caution. This is because your new subscribers and long-time subscribers have different needs; therefore, you can’t use the same discount on both if you don’t want to risk losing them at the same time. And if you offer discounts to just anyone, you are decreasing your product’s value. Instead, offer them to the right customers at the right time, and you’ll end up with higher conversions, sales, and more loyal customers.

If you limit your discounts to email subscribers, you are rewarding your prospects and encouraging them to become actual customers.

5. Clearance Sales

Clearance sales are another attractive strategy to increase sales. Plus, it allows you to create space for new inventory or product lines. This type of freebie marketing offers a good excuse to get rid of your seasonal products without having to totally give them away. And customers will more likely buy your products because there is a sense of urgency and scarcity. (image)

6. Seasonal Deals

It’s always a good idea to leverage holidays to promote your products. While competitions are tougher during Christmas and Black Friday, other holidays are not as busy and may pose an advantage for your business.

7. $XX off Deals

This is a variation of the percent deals, which can be more attractive because it straight away identifies how much a customer can save from making a purchase. However, if you look at both deals more closely, 15% off is better than $15 off, but $50 off is better than 50% off.

8. The BOGO Deal

Who doesn’t like the Buy-One-Get-One (BOGO) deal? Everyone’s eyes twinkle at the sight of this. This is a good freebie marketing stint if you are trying to move inventory, and you have many stocks left.

9. Multi-buy Deals

This type of deal is also great for moving inventory when your stocks are plenty. An example of this is ‘Buy 2 get 1 free bottle of perfume’. You can also say, ‘Buy 2 get a free raincoat’.

The success of deals like this largely depends on what you sell.


When it comes to growing your business, using freebie marketing is always a good idea. It’s an important part of marketing that aims to grow your following, boost sales, and enrich awareness of your brand.

You can freely choose from any of the different freebie marketing strategies or opt to combine them for optimum benefits. You can always change your strategies anytime if you deem that they are not working as expected. But, of course, you need to give it time before jumping to any conclusions.

As with other digital marketing strategies, you need to understand that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. It often takes a lot of trials and failed trials before you arrive at a strategy that works best for your business.

If you need any assistance in digital marketing, check out our website or get a free consultation with us through this link.

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