“FREE OFFER” has picked up a negative connotation over the years.
Because it’s the best way to get a prospect’s attention, we’ve begun to associate “free” with bad quality, overdue shipping, and outright scams from sketchy sales companies.
But what if there was a way to offer free products and profit? To overcome the quality hurdle by making a small profit to up the production value.
Sounds amazing, right? You get to draw in customers with free (plus quality) products and make a little for your company on the side, too.
Good thing it’s a tried and true method that you can take advantage of today.
It’s called a free plus shipping funnel.
What is a Free Plus Shipping Funnel?
A free plus shipping funnel is exactly what the name suggests: you offer a product to your customers for FREE. The only payment they make is for shipping and handling.
But why would you give away your hard-earned work for free? And if it isn’t really free for the customer, does that make a free plus shipping funnel a scam?
To answer the latter question: no. This kind of sales funnel requires you to be upfront about the fact that the customer is paying for shipping and handling. It’s an enticing offer because although the purchase isn’t free, it’s a much better deal than they would get anywhere else.
(And heads up: these kinds of funnels can convert up to 20% of your traffic. More on this in a minute).
As for the first question: you’re giving away the product for “free” now in order to lead customers into your funnel. Then, because the first product came at such a low cost to them, there’s massive potential to upsell through even more valuable offers.
And after you upsell, you can spend more going forward to acquire customers.
Let’s look at a few examples to show you the power of free plus shipping funnels.
Free Plus Shipping Funnel Examples
Best Seller Publishing
I can speak to the value of these kinds of funnels. My Wall Street Journal bestseller, Publish. Promote. Profit, uses a free plus shipping funnel to generate millions of dollars in revenue.
Let me show you how it works.
This is what you’ll see on our landing page: a brief description of my book, an enticing sales pitch, and of course, the “free book” call-to-action.
We also offer free bonus content to further excite the reader.
Of course, the reader must pay $7.95 for shipping—but this is an easy choice compared to the $24.95 they’d spend on Amazon.
Then, once the customer makes a purchase, they’ll be sent to a separate page with a free training video and an application to work with us.
This is where the upsell potential comes into play.
We offer a six-video training course for $47 that readers could get instant access to once they received our free book.
It may sound like a small offer, but it created an additional $37,000 in revenue in just six months. These small upsells also play a huge role in the “value ladder” of offers. They continue priming interested prospects to be interested in your higher-ticket products.
And this is how you’ll actually make a profit with your free plus shipping funnel.
You can also create a free plus shipping funnel for a non-physical product.
For instance, take a look at this exclusive offer on Grant Cardone’s website.
By just filling out your contact and billing info, you can enroll in “Cardone University” to learn all about sales, buyer psychology, and more.
Once you’ve enrolled, he can upsell you with more valuable products and offers.
This is a great example of how to use a digital product funnel. And as opposed to physical products, you don’t have to worry about delivery.
Russell Brunson, author of The Secrets Trilogy and co-founder of Click Funnels, offers five separate free plus shipping sales funnels on his website.
Each funnel contains a landing page with an engaging sales pitch video, testimonials, and his free plus shipping offer of $9.95.
He also lists the value of everything you’re getting for FREE in his book, Traffic Secrets, which equates to $509.95. Then he tops it off with a return guarantee if you aren’t satisfied with the results.
If you need tips on how to sell your funnel, Brunson is the mentor for you.
How to Set Up a Free Plus Shipping Funnel
Step 1. Decide on Your Offer
The first step is a no-brainer: you need an offer. But there are important elements to consider in order to set yourself up for success.
- Define/consider your audience. Remember: the product offer should be something your specific audience will invest in. They should be at the forefront of your decision-making process.
- Define/consider your niche. If you don’t already have a niche, now is the time to choose. Make sure your product(s) fall into the right category to attract relevant buyers.
- Start small. The product mascot of your funnel is just your breaking-in point. It should be something with a cheap production cost that allows you to break even on a sale. You can upsell with higher-value products later.
- Choose a familiar product. Potential buyers shouldn’t be scratching their heads over what your product is and what is offers. This doesn’t mean you have to pick a product that appeals to everyone, it just means that your specific audience should be familiar with what you’re offering.
- No-brainer offer. Finally, based on your production and overhead costs, you need to decide on an easy sale to your audience. It should be less than what they’d have to pay to buy your product through retail stores, but high enough to break even on a sale.
In summary: tailor your product, price, and offer to your audience. Just as much strategy should go into your initial product decision as the structure of your sales funnel.
Step 2. Ad
Your free plus shipping ad copy is the gateway into your funnel. It should highlight the main appeals of your offer: your product listed for FREE, and the price of shipping and handling.
Remember: your shipping cost should meet the cost of product production. The goal in this first step is to break even, not profit. A good median for shipping costs is $6.99-$14.99.
You may also choose to incorporate (genuine) scarcity into your copy. It may read “limited time offer” or “free for XX time ONLY.” Scarcity encourages readers to take advantage of your offer ASAP before it’s too late.
You may be wondering: if the shipping cost allows me to break even on production costs, what about ad spend? Am I losing money?
Nope! Your ad spend can be diluted through upselling opportunities that we’ll talk about later. The goal of your ad is simply to lead customers to your order form.
Step 3. Contact Info
One of your primary objectives with your sales funnel is to collect contact information. The fact of the matter is: not every customer will complete their purchase. This is called an abandoned cart, and we’ll talk more about how to combat this later.
But one way to account for an abandoned cart is to ensure you obtain your customer’s contact info (i.e. email address) before they make the purchase. This way you can continue to send them offers and value down the line if they don’t enter your funnel immediately.
So the landing page of your ad should lead directly to your order form. The first page of your order form should ask for contact/shipping information only. No mention of price, additional costs, or additional offers yet.
This increases your chances of getting contact information before the customer has a chance to back down at the price. Once they’ve entered their contact info, you can send them to the billing page of your order form.
Step 4. Billing Info
The billing page of your order form is where you’ll include the shipping and handling. This way the bulk of the customer’s work is done before they have to confront a price.
From here, you have a couple of different options. The billing page isn’t just a place for customers to purchase one product—it’s an opportunity for you to upsell.
This is where you increase your Average Cart Value (ACV). In other words, the average amount your customers are spending during checkout. This value is what will allow you to make a profit from your free plus shipping funnel (and dilute the cost of your ad spend).
But in order to convince customers to spend more, you’ll have to:
- Increase value
- Make them another offer
We do this through quantity breaks and order bumps.
A quantity break is the discount a customer receives as they increase the quantity of their purchase. For instance, one bookmark may cost $3, but two bookmarks may cost $3.99, three may cost $7.99, and so on. They’re getting a cheaper deal by purchasing a larger quantity.
The order bump is the action of the quality discount. I.e., including a one-click checkbox to add the additional purchase to the cart. But it matters what you’re offering through the order bump.
Additional offers should be connected to your original product. If your “free” offer is a book, for example, it would make sense to order bump with limited edition bookmarks or an audiobook/e-book so customers can start consuming your content immediately.
Put yourself in the shoes of your customer and ask what they might need next.
Step 5. Upsell
After your customer makes it through the billing page, congratulations! If they bumped their order you’ve made a profit, and if they paid shipping and handling you broke even.
But there are opportunities to actually turn this profit by offering an upsell on your thank you page.
Your thank you page is a great place to advertise what your product can’t do. AKA: why the customer needs to purchase another product from you.
Let’s say the “free” product is a copy of your book. After a purchase, it might make sense to showcase your masterclass, service, or webinar that provides 1:1 help your book can’t offer.
There’s also an opportunity to have customers refer others to your website in exchange for a discount or similar offer.
Whatever features you choose to include, just make sure you list a clear call to action. Take full advantage of this space to send customers through the next phase of your funnel.
Bonus: Abandoned Cart Sequence
One last bonus step for your funnel: an abandoned cart sequence. Remember how I said customers may not make it past the billing page? This is called an “abandoned cart,” and doesn’t always mean the end of the line for your customer.
But first, it’s important for you to know why abandoned carts happen in your funnel. Was it the price? The copy? Was your order form too complicated? If someone leaves in the middle of an order form, you can send them through a sequence that asks these kinds of questions.
Then you can use that data to improve your funnel. Experiment with ad copy and price points until you see an increase in your ACV.
Secondly, an abandoned cart sequence can provide additional offers to your customer. The free offer wasn’t their cup of tea? That’s okay—they should check out this free webinar you’re offering or the free PDF download. Maybe they’d be interested in another kind of product entirely.
Just because someone turns down one offer doesn’t mean they can’t be sold at all.
Start Using a Free Plus Shipping Funnel Today
Remember: the end goal of your free plus shipping funnel is your high-value upsell.
You may choose to offer coaching/consulting calls or an expansive program, but this final sale will bring the most value to your business and your customer.
Review the steps above to determine what offer makes the most sense for you.
And for another detailed example, just head over to my own free plus shipping funnel for Publish. Promote. Profit.
If you feel inclined to make a purchase, you’ll receive even more free (plus shipping) value on how to create your own profitable book funnel.