The Power of the "Free Gift" in Gaining Repeat Customers

Have you ever been to a store or purchased something online and the seller sent you a free gift with your purchase? How awesome is that?

I'm speaking as a book marketer and as a consumer here, because you should be thinking as both when you're planning your own marketing. Just like when you write, you edit your book with your reader in mind.

The thing is free gifts are nice. They're icing on the cake. They add just a little extra value to the purchase and in some cases can make the decision to buy easier because you know you're getting added value.

Let me give you a couple of examples.

Example 1

I recently bought new foundation from a place I'd never tried before. They sent me a free gift with it but it had a timer and was going to disappear if I didn't buy soon. A tactic that creates a sense of hurry, I know. They didn't tell me what the free gift was, but I had an item in mind that I assumed it would be, and I really wanted that thing. So, I quit waffling and bought the foundation.

The free gift was more value than I suspected it would be. And...... it allowed me to try another one of their products without having to buy it.

That was a win for me.

Example 2

I was at a rock shop buying stones for my newest hobby, jewelry making. As the owner rang up my items she asked if I made jewelry with the stones. I said, "I do," and showed her the pendant I was wearing that day which I had made myself. This is the pendant I showed her.

She liked my work and explained that she wished she was better at wire wrapping jewelry, but that she really liked polishing and cutting stones. I replied that I'd really like to get into that as well. We kept building rapport while she rang up the stones.

Before I left, she gave me a stone from the locked cabinet and said, "See what you can make with this." I was so surprised and delighted that she'd give me such a beautiful crystal that I floated for the rest of the day. And I'm still grateful for her generosity and because she believed in me.

Also, I'd be remise if I didn't shamelessly plug my new endeavor here, but feel free to ignore it if it's not your thing....You can check out pendants like this one in my Etsy Store at

I have tons of different stones and different wire wrap options depending on your tastes.

The Break Down

When I received my free gift from the first example, as a customer, I knew that it was a tactic, and yet it was effective because I wanted the free gift anyway. The timer created a sense of urgency which is definitely helpful in getting your customers to buy now instead of adding to cart, but never clicking "Purchase."

However, I knew that the faceless organization had little time for me and probably won't suffer if I never buy from them again. I'll see how it goes and if the foundation is really worth the hype. Then maybe I'll go back if I value the product enough.

In example 2, I was completely surprised by the free gift. This created positive feelings like gratitude and delight. Plus, since we'd been talking before she presented the gift, it felt more genuine, from the heart. It left me excited to go back and see the owners again, to talk about rocks, and show them what I did with their gift.

It also helps that I love their rock shop anyway. I had visited other rock shops in that area, but none were as good. In my two interactions with this particular one, they were exactly what I was looking for: helpful, knowledgeable, and had a lot of inventory that I could choose from. The owner informed me that they cater to jewelry makers like me, and it shows with the kind of shop they run.

So to wrap up the break down of the free gifts... The makeup store may or may not get my business in the future because I haven't decided if I like their product. The rock shop definitely will get my business in the future because they have proved valuable to me.

How does this relate to book marketing?

The whole point I'm telling you these stories is because I'd like for you to be able to use free gifts to build your audience. This will take a bit of thought mostly because selling books on Amazon is a bit different and requires some creative thinking.

Basically, you want to come at this from a couple of different ways. First, you want to think about your customer: who are they, and what type of gift would be meaningful and valuable to them?

Obviously they're readers, but what else are they interested in? Science Fiction readers may be interested in posters or comics. What if you created a poster for your book? Or a short graphic novel that customers get access to in a member's only section of your website? With a Member's Only access page, you'll build a direct contact (like and email list) to people who already bought your book.

Or what about romance readers? Maybe they'd like a short story featuring they're favorite characters or a test to see which character they are most like... (that can be done with Myers Brigg personality types as long as you know which personality types your characters are, and you can get creative with the questions.)

What if you're sending physical copies of a book? Sign it (obviously), add a bookmark which features your book which you can design on Vistaprint. (They actually have a ton of options for you to design and send with your book.) You could send something meaningful from the book itself. Or... you could send another book you wrote whether it's a sequel to the one you're sending or another book entirely.

One note on Packaging: I've learned from my recent experiences that packaging plays a huge part of sending a physical product. Your readers should get the opportunity to open the package like opening up presents on Christmas day. It just adds to the experience. You can secure the packaging with a sticker featuring your logo or brand (also available on Vistaprint), or get really fancy and do a wax seal (I would love to try this!)

Basically, whether your customer is buying your book on Amazon or you're sending a physical copy (even an ARC), sending a thoughtful gift can be a huge boost for the relationship between you and your reader and promotes brand awareness as well as providing value for your customer in a way they can appreciate.

(That being said, I wouldn't recommend sending a second book to an Advanced Reader... feels like a bit much considering it's difficult to get them to agree and they may be doing you a favor already. But you could still send them a bookmark.)

The second thing you should consider when sending a free gift to your audience is being personable and inviting. The free gift from the rock shop was personal and genuine. You want your readers to feel that way when they receive your gift to them.

This could be as simple as a handwritten thank you card you send with your book or a heartfelt email they get when they sign up to your member's area. Express your gratitude for them for choosing your book and the hope hat they enjoy it. Telling them what it means to you is a way of connecting on a personal level with the potential to create a friend and loyal reader for life.

Let's recap

Gift giving doesn't have to be difficult. It can be as simple as a landing page inviting them to join a member's only area.

Just follow these simple steps:

  1. Choose a gift to give that is valuable to your readers.

  2. Make it personal so you can make a lasting connection with them.

Hopefully this has helped you discover ways that you can connect with your readers and make the experience better for the both of you, because that's the goal. And... it's the best way to market without feeling sleazy.

Want more tips like this? Sign up to my email list below.

Like this article? You may like these others...

3 Steps to Effective Book Marketing

How Partnerships Can Explode Your Platform Growth

8 Ways to Optimize Your Writing Time

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