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Free Samples
Don't do it!

 7:51 pm on Nov 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

I get a call from a client yesterday, he 911'd me on my pager. They received 285 incoming contact requests from a section of their website.

After reviewing the logs, I found that someone dropped the URL in a freebies directory. Within 24 hours those 285 contact requests came in, there were a total of 575 click thrus from that link. They had to fill out a rather lengthy form to get to them, and they did!

At first, I thought someone spammed him. After reviewing the stats, I knew exactly what happened as this has happened before with other clients.

It also happened a couple of years ago with another client. At that time, I went on a mission to learn as much as I could about the freebie directories. I found out some very interesting information.

Do you know that people make a living off of freebie sites? I mean, they will order everything they can get for free and either use it themselves, have a garage sale or even take it to the local flea market.

How many of you have been the recipient of a URL drop in a freebie directory. Did you send out the free goods or did you ignore the requests?

My client now has the painstaking task of going through 285 requests to see which ones might be a viable lead. I told him that 95-98% of them are most likely bogus. Fortunately we are able to fine tune the results as some actually filled out the comments section. I suggested he bypass all those that did not leave a comment and concentrate on those who did. If the company name looked like a business, take the 30-60 seconds it might take to contact them and see if there is an opportunity.



 8:22 pm on Nov 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

:) oOoo I love the freebie sites, I keep tabs on many of them mostly for the internet coupons though, ie: 10$ off when ya spend a certain amount of money. But I can see that it could kill a small business having to send out all the requests. For one of my clients site, I have the referal they came from print in the order form so if they see massive ammounts they can see and know where they come from and know how to honor them.


 8:52 pm on Nov 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

I had this happen once. My client couldn't afford to send out free samples to unqualified people, which ALL the people from the freebie sites were, so we asked politely to be removed from the various freebie sites. Some wouldn't remove us (eventhough we didn't submit to them in the first place) so I finally replaced the link to that page with the most graphic porn photo I could find. That worked :)

that being said we did get lots of requests so this could be an interesting option for other businesses.


 9:14 pm on Nov 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

How many of you have been the recipient of a URL drop in a freebie directory. Did you send out the free goods or did you ignore the requests?

We've received enough "creative" requests for freebies that I've created a standard reply that we send to the freebie seekers stating that due to past abuse we no longer offer free samples, thank them for their inquiry/interest in our company and mention our product guarantee.


 9:22 pm on Nov 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

replaced the link to that page with the most graphic porn photo I could find. That worked

I'm surprised they didn't just edit the link text to "free porn photo!" :)


 9:37 pm on Nov 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

A couple years ago on a site I managed we offered a Free Info Packet. It was nothing more than boring B2B sales literature. But once we got put into a freebie directory, we had hundreds of people requesting an "Info Packet". I mean people spent the time to fill out a good sized form to get our company "Info Packet" Maybe they needed some paper to get the fire going..... People amaze me sometimes...


 10:36 pm on Dec 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

I've heard the freebie horror stories before. Some will actually create fake company names if the freebie is only offered to another company, and not to individuals.

I've heard of some folks getting burned when they offered contests on their websites (w/ the idea that folks would be exposed to the site and actually purchase something). Just like the freebies, the contest were listed on a 'contests' directory, and virtually all of the people who registered had no intention of even cruising the site, much less buying anything.

If you want to offer samples, a better strategy is to offer a sample at the usual price, but include a $$ off coupon on your next order, which equals the price of the sample. That way, only the return customers actually get their sample for 'free'.

Some folks will just email out of the blue and ask for a free sample. Others will ask for a donation to a charity event. I always double check that the charity is for real before sending anything off.

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