In conjunction with the re-launch of my website, I released a free web design eBook. And I mean truly free. I didn’t ask for money, a name or an email address in exchange.
I figured that if readers felt my eBook was good enough, they’d act upon my strong call to action on the last page and sign up to my newsletter – which was my main objective for launching a free product.
I averaged 10 downloads a day, with just over 5% subscribing to my newsletter. Modest, but I was chuffed.
Then everything changed. At 2.00 a.m. on a Saturday, my phone jumped, beeped and vibrated, scaring the wits out of me.
Luckily, I sleep with my web host. In a panic – and in the nude – we ran into the office to log in to our web servers. Our bandwidth was just about to crap itself!
We’d had 3800 downloads in just under two hours. One of the world’s leading blogs about web design had tweeted a link to my eBook. We simply didn’t have the bandwidth to cope with such a hammering.
Only for my cunning decision to bed my web host was I able to get my bandwidth adjusted in the nick of time. Disaster averted. Talk about getting lucky!
The result was 42% increase in newsletter subscribers. Overnight.
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There’s no way I’d have achieved that result if I’d demanded an email address before giving my eBook away. I’m still patting myself on the back for that decision.
But what if I hadn’t had such swift access to my web host? My fleetingly engaged reader (and potential client) would’ve landed on a page politely telling them that whatever they were looking for was not available. And then they’d have been gone.
Not only would my efforts have gone to waste (including the four months it took to write the thing), I most likely would’ve tarnished my reputation. What sort of a web design agency can’t even manage its own product distribution and growth? It’s not much of an example, is it?
I’ve learnt a few valuable lessons from this episode:
1. Plan for success
Before launching any online marketing activity, ask yourself:
- What’s the best-case scenario? What do you have to do before you launch to support it?
- If you’re expecting an international audience, will you need to be up in the dead of night to take full advantage of the buzz? Will you miss the moment if you’re not?
- Will your current web hosting bandwidth be sufficient? If not, what can you do to adjust it before you launch? Will your web host monitor activity on your behalf?
2. Have confidence in yourself
You know your product is good. You wouldn’t be putting it out there if it weren’t. So be confident. It’ll show – and it’s infectious, and will greatly increase your chances of referral.
If you’re not feeling confident, question whether you’re really ready to release your product.
3. Follow up on your success
Now that you’ve attracted attention, what are you going to do with it? Will you be leveraging your online marketing by directing your groupies to your Facebook page? Blog? Paid products? Don’t waste this golden opportunity.
What steps (sordid or otherwise) have you taken to plan for success or to salvage a missed opportunity?