An offer is a content piece that helps solve a website visitor’s problem. It can be anything from a free demo or coupon to an ebook or guide. Your offers should be of use to most website visitors—what matters is that visitors, leads, prospects and customers receive information they can use to help solve a problem.

For inbound marketers, the first offer conversion is a critical step in the marketing relationship with the lead. It represents a brand’s currency in the quid pro quo transaction of a conversion. The right offer at the right time can give a website visitor exactly what they need—and send them over the moon!

Creating Irresistible Offers

Yes. It’s one of the most powerful words in the human language. And if you think about all the things we do as marketers, it’s ultimately to get people to say “yes” to our offers.

When an offer is exclusive, scarce, or in high demand, it becomes more desirable. Whether they are whitepapers, free trials, memberships, sales promotions, or downloads, these irresistible elements can overcome a lead’s typical friction, doubt, or concern.

Why do these elements work? Because they trigger a physiological reaction that makes an offer more valuable. People need to perceive the value of your offer to be greater than what you’re asking for in return. The higher the perception of value, the more irresistible the offer. So how do you create irresistible offers? Glad you asked...

Use the Element of Scarcity

If you look at the principle of supply and demand, you’ll notice that when supply is limited, demand goes up. Scarcity has a psychological influence on us, making us want something even more if there isn’t enough to go around. Scarcity is great because it creates a fear of shortage, and thus a sense of urgency.

Limited Time Offers

Limited time offers are among the most popular in the scarcity category. Just think about your average car dealership. Practically every commercial is a limited time deal. “Get 0% financing before it’s gone!”

Limited Quantity Offers

When something is of limited quantity, it suddenly becomes more unique or exclusive. In some studies, limited quantity or supply offers have outperformed limited-time offers. Why? Because it’s hard to tell when an offer of limited quantity will suddenly become unavailable, while a time-based offer has a known end time. Limited quantity offers are great for not only getting people to say “yes” to your offer, but to avoid procrastination completely.

Limited Time and Limited Quantity

Groupon is the perfect example of using both tactics. All Groupon deals end within a certain time frame, and they limit the number of people who can buy a Groupon. That’s a powerful combination. The site also packages these scarcity tactics with discounting, which is another great value-add, especially for ecommerce businesses.

The Bandwagon Effect

It’s a natural tendency for humans to copy one another, even without realizing it — we like to be a part of tribes and social communities. So when we notice our social circle is doing one thing, we tend to follow suit. One great way to make an offer more valuable is to show that other people are participating in that offer.

Proof in Numbers

When possible, a great way to indicate how awesome an offer is to mention the number of people who have purchased, downloaded, signed up, or donated.

Some examples include:

Just make sure your claims are not only true, but believable.

Webinars: On this page promoting our webinar with Facebook, we’ve stated that more than 40,000 have signed up.

Blog Subscription: Similarly, on our blog under our “subscribe” module, it indicates over 130,000 people have subscribed. This is proof that it’s a highly trustworthy and popular blog people should follow.

Conferences: Events like SXSW and INBOUND are some of the hottest events because tons of people flock to them every year.

Leverage Newsjacking

After Prince William and Kate Middleton got married in April of 2011, no one could stop talking about Kate’s wedding dress. Within hours after the wedding, vendors began making near-identical copies or similar styles of the Stella McCartney-designed dress. Even vendors such as David’s Bridal now have a “Royal” category so you can dress “just like Kate.”

When something is buzz-worthy, it creates high demand. In situations like this, you can align offers with “what’s hot.” Companies will often leverage newsjacking for this type of technique and it works very well for offers, too.

As an example, earlier this year people couldn’t stop talking about Pinterest. HubSpot capitalized on this craze by creating the first Pinterest ebook for business owners and marketers, How to Use Pinterest for Business. It quickly became one of HubSpot’s most successful ebooks with more than 125,000 downloads to date. Because it was the first and only ebook available on Pinterest (and we made sure people knew that), and learning how to use Pinterest for marketing was in high demand, it made the offer more unique and thus more irresistible — that’s the power of leveraging both timing and popularity!

Focus on Creating An Amazing Title

Brian Halligan, HubSpot CEO and co-founder, once said that “you can have a great offer with a bad title and no one will download it. But if you have an amazing title, suddenly everyone wants it.” Yes – people do judge a book by it’s cover. If your offer is a piece of content, such as a whitepaper, ebook, or presentation, put effort into creating an amazing title.

For an experiment, we changed the title of an ebook and ran an A/B test to see which one would perform better. We took the original title “The Productivity Handbook for Busy Marketers” and changed it to “7 Apps That Will Change the Way You Do Marketing.”

As you can see, the revised version outperformed the original by 776% at generating leads (first time submissions). Not only that, but it resulted in more customers as well. If you’re struggling to come up with the perfect headline, try using the Headline Analyzer Tool by Advanced Marketing Institute or read 7 Proven Headlines that Convert.

Create Offers For Different Buying Stages

The most common offer I see on most websites is “Contact Us.” Sure, you want all your prospects to talk to sales, but not everyone is ready. As you know, buyers are more likely to do their own research before even engaging with a sales rep. And, every prospect is at a different stage of exploration. Some may need more education than others. That’s why it’s important to develop different offers at different buying cycles.

Someone at the top of the buying cycle may be more interested in an informational piece like a guide or ebook, whereas someone more committed at the bottom of the cycle might be more interested in a free trial or demo. You don’t need to pick and choose; create offers for each phase, and include a primary and secondary CTA to these offers on various pages

Avoid Corporate Gobbledygook

A professional image is necessary but you still want to avoid the dreaded corporate gobbledygook. What is gobbledygook you ask? Great question.

These are jargon terms and phrases that have been over-used and abused rendering them meaningless (you’ll find them mostly in the high-tech industry, but everyone is an offender at one point or another). These words are meant to add more emphasis of a particular subject but instead they make your eyes roll.

Avoid these words when describing your offers

  • Next Generation
  • Flexible
  • Robust
  • Scalable
  • Easy to use
  • Cutting edge
  • Ground breaking
  • Best of breed
  • Mission critical

To learn more, download The Gobbledygook Manifesto ebook by David Meerman Scott

Use High-Value Offer Formats

Not all offers are created equal. Some “formats” of offers perform better than others at converting leads. For example, what’s more valuable, a whitepaper or an ebook?

Below are the type of offers, in order of performance, that generate the most amount of leads.

  • Ebooks or Guides
  • Templates or Presentations
  • Research & Reports
  • Whitepapers
  • Kits (multiple offers packaged together)
  • Live Webinars
  • On-demand Videos
  • Blog (including offers in the nav or sidebar)
  • Blog posts (if there is a CTA in the post)
  • Middle-of-the-funnel offers: Demo Requests, Contact Sales, RFP, Etc (more sales-ready offers).

It’s important to test different types of offers with your audience to determine what works for you. While ebooks score high on our list, you may find that reports, videos or other formats do better.