Should I Give My Ebook Away For Free Or Require An Email Address?

I faced this decision 4 months ago over on my www.SearchEngineGuide.co.nz website (where I focus on SEO and Google Adwords).

I had just decided to give away the 2009 version of my ebook “How To Optimise Your New Zealand Website For Search Engines” for free.

My choices were to:

  1. Ask for a name and email address and email the ebook
  2. Hyperlink directly to a downloadable Pdf

I chose option #2: Hyperlink.

The pros and cons were as follows:

  • Con: I would have no idea who is reading it because I wasn’t collecting names or email addresses
  • Pro: I was setting my content free with the potential to go viral
  • Con: I had no way of contacting the people that downloaded it to tell them about my next version, or to make them a special offer on my other services
  • Pro: It removed a barrier to trialling my products & services

The pro’s were great but the con’s are very heavy.

And 4 months later I have buckled under their weight.

So 5 days ago I put the sign-up form back in place.

It just asks for first name and email address. That’s it. Pretty easy.

And I already have 7 email addresses in my list that I can work with!

What will I do next time: link directly to the ebook, or require an email address?

I’ll ask for the email address and first name.

And in the ebook itself I’ll encourage these people to pass the ebook on to whoever else they think would be interested.

That way, I get the viral thing happening but I still get to keep in contact to these influencers with my offers!

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