membership site free downloads

How To Drive New Membership Customers with Free Downloads

Ever gone to a sporting event where t-shirts were thrown into the crowd? I went to an NBA game recently, and plastic bead necklaces were tossed, foam balls with the team’s logo were thrown, and the coveted free t-shirts were loaded into a launcher and blasted to the nosebleed section. And you know how the crowd reacted? They… or, we… went nuts. Jumping up and down, waving our arms, and staring upward, we waited to catch something ourselves.
Why is that? Why does everyone go crazy in these situations? The answer is simple, really… people will do anything for free — even cheap t-shirts that are the wrong size and will never be worn. But what if you made something valuable that your target audience would absolutely love, and you gave that away for free? Not only would you have people flocking to you to receive whatever it is you’re offering, but you’d also have people curious to know what else you have to offer — and that includes paid products or services.
In this article, we’re going to dive into the power of offering free downloads to entice new customers to signup for your membership. From checklists to email templates, we’ll give you plenty of ideas for creating compelling free content that will have people lining up to join your membership.

Free download ideas

People love getting something for nothing. And that’s why offering free downloads is such an effective way to prompt new signups. Here are some ideas for free downloads that you can offer to drive new membership customers:

  1. Ebooks: Create a high-quality, informative eBook on a topic related to your industry or business and offer it for free. Whatever it is you choose to include in the eBook, you’ll want to be sure the content is engaging. If readers connect with what you’ve written, they’re likely to join your membership for more.
  2. Sample chapter (eBook): If you aren’t interested in giving away an entire eBook, you can offer a sample chapter or just a few pages. Leaving the reader hanging at a crucial moment can help to drive signups because they’ll want to know what happens next. And the only way to find out is by joining your membership for the full thing.
  3. Email templates: These can be used for various purposes, such as reaching out to potential customers, following up with leads, or communicating with current members. Let’s say your expertise is helping dance studios automate their processes. Providing email templates can save them time and streamline communication efforts.
  4. Checklists: Create a simple checklist or resource guide related to your business or industry. This can be a useful tool for potential customers and help demonstrate the value of your membership. For example, if your membership business revolves around healthy eating and recipes, you could provide a curated shopping list with must-have grocery store items.
  5. Recipes: If your business is related to food, consider offering a collection of delicious and easy-to-follow recipes as a free download. Including a mix of classic favorites and creative, new dishes will better appeal to a wide range of tastes. And if the dishes turn out to be a hit, they’ll be looking to you for next week’s dinner too.
  6. Stock photos: Everyone loves a good visual! Offer a collection of high-quality stock photos related to your business or industry. These can be used for website design, marketing materials, and other projects. For example, if you’re a business that helps real estate agents with their marketing, offer a few pieces of content they can use to engage people on social media.
  7. Transcripts: Provide transcripts of your top podcasts, webinars, interviews, or other content. If potential customers find the written version intriguing and valuable, they may just decide to purchase the audio version so they can get the full experience of the original content.
  8. How-to guides: Offering step-by-step instructions for a particular process can be extremely beneficial and allow you to demonstrate the knowledge and expertise you have to share. For example, if your membership consists of courses that teach dog owners how to train their furry friends, you could offer a free guide that explains how to effectively teach a dog to sit. If the potential customer wants to learn additional dog-training hacks or watch you walk through the actual training process via instructional videos, they’ll have to sign up for your membership. 
  9. Travel itineraries: If your business is related to travel, consider offering a customizable travel itinerary template as a free download. This can include a variety of templates for different types of trips such as intimate romantic getaways or entire family vacations, which allows you to attract a wider range of customers. People who are planning a trip will likely find the templates useful and may even reach out for more help finalizing their plans.
  10. Scavenger hunt clues: If you specialize in party-planning services, this one’s for you. Put together a list of scavenger hunt clues for anyone planning a party. When it ends up being a hit with the party crowd, they’ll probably look to you when it’s time to plan the next one. This is also a great idea for anyone who specializes in connecting people and cultivating a sense of community.
  11. Website template: Have a certain page that really stands out on your website? Turn it into a template for others to use. Since the page already exists on your website, it’ll take no time to turn it into a template. And if you’re a web designer, you’ll gain some new prospects looking for more help with their site.
  12. Calendar or planner: Most people need help managing their time effectively and keeping track of important dates and events. Providing free materials to assist with this can help all types of people stay organized and on top of their responsibilities.
  13. Coupon: Directly promote your product or service by offering a downloadable coupon or discount code. This one is pretty straightforward as people would only be able to use this freebie with whatever you have to offer.
  14. Online event tickets: Give out free tickets to an online event such as a webinar, workshop, or live demonstration. Let’s say you’re a musician working on a new album. Consider hosting a live new music preview for people to join and build excitement for the upcoming release.
  15. Mobile phone wallpaper: Providing free wallpaper downloads is a great way to have people preview whatever it is you have to offer. And with your content on their mobile device’s background (or even front lock screen), you’re sure to keep your brand on their minds. For example, if you’re a graphic designer, give away a piece of your artwork. Or if you sell merchandise, offer a wallpaper download that matches an upcoming design.
  16. Photography presets: Editing pictures is extremely popular. But some people have no idea where to begin. By offering a free preset, you’re building trust with people in relation to your photography skills. This means they’re likely to reach out to you for future photo needs such as headshots, photoshoots, editing, and more.

Consider trying multiple different ideas and track which free resources are the most successful for attracting new signups.

How to give away free downloads

Now that you have a few ideas for free content you can offer, the next step is figuring out how to give it all away. How do you create a space where potential customers can go to download those free resources?

A great option is to build out a free resource area on your website, place it behind a sign-up wall, create a free membership plan, and have people join that free plan to get access. One way to accomplish this is with your existing website and MemberSpace.

Allow us to explain…

  1. Build out a free resource area on your existing website


    MemberSpace works in conjunction with your existing website to protect pages and content for members only. When creating a free resources area, you may consider building a new page on your website for this specific purpose. For example, you can add a new /free page to your website.

    From there, you’ll need to add the free downloads to your website. You can either upload them directly to the new free resources page or use MemberSpace’s Content Links feature to add additional protection to the files. This ensures your content (e.g. images, audio, pdfs, videos, etc.) is secure even if someone with tech knowledge gets around the top-level page protection (which we’ll discuss more below).

    Securely protect free downloads with Content Links
    Securely protect your free downloads with Content Links

    If you choose to go the Content Links route, you’ll be given a special link that you can easily attach to a button, text, image, or another element on your website. You can also embed certain content directly on the webpage, depending on the file type.

    Add free download Content Links to your website to attract new membership signups
    Easily copy the free download Content Link and link it to an element on your website

    Make sure the free resources page is appealing and easy to navigate in an effort to prevent any confusion with possible future customers and leave them with a good first impression of your business.

  2. Use MemberSpace to protect the free downloads behind a signup wall


    After you build the free resources area and add all of your downloadable content, you’ll need a way to protect that webpage from the public. With MemberSpace, it’s quick and easy to protect unlimited pages on your website. Simply add that page’s URL in the MemberSpace backend with a few clicks.

    Protect your free downloads website page for members only
    Protect your free downloads website page so it’s only accessible after signing up for your membership

    After you’ve successfully installed MemberSpace on your website, visitors will be asked to sign up for your membership or log in to their existing account before they’re able to see that protected page with all of your content.

    Website visitors must join your membership to access free downloads page and content
    Visitors must join your membership to access the free downloads page and resources
  3. Create a free plan


    Now that your free resources page has been created and protected, you’ll need to make a way for people to join your membership in order to access the free content. But, of course, the content is free, so you won’t be charging them for access. Instead, you’ll create a free plan for potential customers to join before they’re able to see the free downloads.

    Create a free membership plan for people to join and access the downloads page and resources
    Create a free membership plan for people to join and access the downloads at no cost

    And this free plan will only grant access to the free resources, not to your normal members-only content.

    You may be wondering why we’d go through all of these steps just to offer something for free when you could easily upload the free content to your website and be done. Here’s the reasoning behind all of this… the goal is to get something from these potential customers in return — their contact info. We’ll touch more on this later.

  4. Tell potential customers how to access the resources for free


    Once you’ve got everything set up and ready to go, you’ll need a way to tell potential customers about this free content. Some things you could do are add the link to the free resources page in a blog post, include the link in an email blast to all contacts (customers and non-customers), or run an ad on social media. The opportunities are endless, really. And we’ll explain more below.

    Wherever you decide to promote the free resources, you’ll need to be sure to clearly explain how people can access the downloads. Whether it’s signing up for the free plan, then having them automatically redirected to the free resources page once they’ve joined, or sending them to the protected page where they’ll be asked to sign up or log in, make sure the steps are clear for people who may have never seen your website, member flow, etc.

How does this help drive membership customers?

As we mentioned above, the idea here is to give away free resources in exchange for people’s information. Let’s face it, not many things in life are actually free with no strings attached. For example, you may see an advertisement for a “free gift.” But oftentimes, those two words are followed by two others — “with purchase.” In other words, you have to actually buy something to get the “free” gift. 

The good thing about giving away free resources is that people aren’t being asked to spend any money. The only commitment is offering up some basic info such as a name and email address. And people are pretty much willing to signup for anything to get something free in return.

As soon as people sign up for the free plan, a connection has been built between them and you! And that means you can start building a relationship with them and introducing these potential customers to your paid products or services. Drip emails, webinars, and an online community are just a few ways to follow up with those who signed up for the free resources and show them what you have to offer, build their trust, and slowly move them toward becoming paying customers.

How to market your freebie

There are many different ways to drive traffic to your freebies. Below are a few common approaches.

  • Create a landing page: Build a dedicated landing page for each free download, with clear calls to action encouraging visitors to sign up for your membership. Explain what the free resource is and help people understand how it will add value to their lives.
  • Run ads: Target your ideal customers with ads promoting your free resources. Paid advertisement on platforms like Facebook or Google is a great way to expand your reach and drive more traffic to your membership. By doing so, you’ll capture the attention of people who may be hearing about your business for the first time and get them started on the journey to becoming a customer.
  • SEO: Search engine optimization (SEO) is a great method for driving organic traffic to your membership site. Using the right target keywords will help internet searches find your free downloadable content and, ultimately, your membership business.
  • Blog posts: Write a new blog post around each of your free resources. Within the article, seamlessly tie in the free resource and explain how it will benefit the reader. Be sure to include clear steps explaining how they can access the free download — by signing up for your free membership plan. Check out our Free Download: Membership Site Wireframes article for an example.
  • Webinar: Host a webinar that goes over your free resource. You can teach attendees everything or most of what’s included in the downloadable. You may even consider allowing people to ask questions to help form more of a personal connection. Be sure to go over how attendees can find the downloadable version, and even follow up with an email that includes the link to sign up for the free plan and access the free resource.

Start with one of the marketing ideas or try a combination of multiple. Just make sure to keep an eye on where the traffic is coming from so you know which method (or combination of methods) is most successful for driving new membership customers with free downloads.

We hope this article has given you some great ideas for offering and promoting free downloadable resources to potential customers. Remember, the key is to offer high-quality, valuable content that will attract your ideal customers and point them to your membership. So go ahead, get creative, and start offering those free downloads today! If you have any other tips or ideas to share, please let us know in the free community for membership business owners. We’d love to hear from you!

To get started offering free downloads to your target audience, join MemberSpace for free! And if you could use a little extra inspiration for creating your own free resources area, check out these free resources for membership business owners.