It’s a fact: marketing is tending more and more towards non-paying. While these sales techniques are well known to physical stores, the strategy has grown even further in the digital sphere. Between freemium and free-to-play, free services are the fashion of internet business. Why is this trend developing in all sectors? What are the benefits for consumers and for businesses? We take stock.
A free strategy that has already proven itself
Cream samples, self-service newspapers or even unlimited communications… non-payment is a phenomenon that has existed for a long time. Doing free for the sake of giving doesn’t make sense. This strategy is the starting point of a well thought out process which aims to generate profits in the medium and long term.
Major cosmetic brands offer samples for several reasons. This makes it possible to target audiences that do not know the brand, to retain customers and to promote a product at an event.
Consumers want solutions and alternatives to address a problem. This psychological mechanism is highlighted by the study of Professor Miguel Gomez of Cornell University. Its report shows that consumers buy much more wine after participating in a tasting, and are even willing to exceed the budget initially planned in their purchases. Today, all these processes have multiplied in the digital sector.
The free-to-play revolution …
One of the symbols of this free trend in the online world is to use free-to-play. This economic model has brought about a small revolution in the world of video games.
In 2015, when Nintendo 3DS released Pokemon Shuffle, for free, the news blew like a bomb. In five years, this model will gradually seduce all the players in the video game industry. League of Legends, the most played title in the world, also quickly goes free-to-play.
The reason is simple: this technique allows the behemoths of video games to attract larger audiences. The casual gamers then join in the dance. These are people who are not players at the base, and who become so by being tempted for free. This system is financially viable if the titles attract large audiences which, at the same time, captivate advertisers.
Attracted by these strategies of loyalty and conquering new audiences, the iGaming sector does not hesitate to also highlight a catalog of free slot machines. On this platform, games like Spartacus, Candy Bars or China Shores are highlighted.
Players can taste different worlds from series, movies and atmospheres known to pass the time. This is a first “discovery” step before setting off to attack the paid versions. New modes of consumption on mobile have also favored the development of online games and free applications. Conquering millions of users, these sectors are among the most profitable on the planet. Sovereign of the Dragons, Game of Thrones, Forge of Empire or Stormfall: Age of War are some of the most played titles on the browser. The digital sphere increases the possibilities of an entertainment industry aligned with fashion trends.
… and freemium
This new word comes from the free and premium contraction. In the second half of the 2000s, the idea was born: it consisted of putting only part of the video game online for free, and making consumers want to pay to see the rest. Super Mario Run, released in 2015, is one of the first examples of its genre, unveiling, freely, three levels of the new adventures of the most famous mustached man on the planet.
Among the famous titles, Fortnite, Pokemon GO or Apex Legends have also bathed in the freemium, in order to widen the audience of gamers and to push the real fans to spend more to take the game in its entirety. This phenomenon is also seen in many digital sectors.
Facebook or WhatsApp are hybrid platforms with a free basic model, while offering paid services. The world’s most famous cat implemented a year-round dollar subscription service in 2009. Zuckerberg’s corporate social network observes a free standard version and a Premium service that provides access to more advanced administrative tools and, inevitably, essential for large companies.
In the same vein, LinkedIn offers a premium version useful for users who are looking for a job, the free version being limited to certain features. Finally, the software world adopts this model systematically. CCleaner, MailChimp, Avast or AVG are free software, with paid features. Woorank (SEO), ClickFunnel (Design) or Affinity Photo present a free trial period of a few days or weeks, before forcing the consumer to pay for a subscription.
There are hundreds of such examples on the web. The free trial is a positive investment in the medium term. Users turn into leads before converting to customers when the trial is successful.
Anyone who wants to sell a product on the web goes through these free content strategies. The sales funnel is simple and smooth: by offering quality and free content related to the said product, the customer gains confidence, lets himself be convinced and finalizes the purchase.
This scheme is the norm. Anyone who offers online training (coaching sessions, webinars, masters, etc.) uses it successfully. This standard follows the trend of free-to-play and freemium marketing strategies that have developed thanks to the digital revolution and are making a splash in the entertainment industry.