What Is A Self-Liquidating Offer? (Hint: Done Right, It’s Free Lead Generation)

LiquidGoldI was recently on a call with a fellow marketer.

I made mention of something that I liked about his website, and we brainstormed further.

“Oh, that’s what’s called a ‘self-liquidating offer.'”

I asked him to explain further…

A self-liquidating offer is something that generates an email opt-in, lead, or purchase, while simultaneously offsetting (or completely negating) the cost of advertising.

For example, let’s say I wrote an ebook and decided to set-up a dedicated landing page for it. Then to drive traffic to the landing page I invested in some advertising on Google or Facebook.

Say I then find that 5% of the people who arrive on the page purchase the ebook and it costs me $30 in ad spend for every purchase. Well, if the cost of the book is $30 or more then this is an efficient self-liquiding offer (we’ll call it SLO for short from this point on).

Intrigued, I decided to take action and begin testing this concept last night, and I even took it one step further as you’ll see…

For your benefit, here’s what I did and how I put all the pieces together to form a mini-marketing system.

Step #1 – Define your goal

My primary goal in setting up a  SLO is to build my email list. My secondary goal was to pre-sell our premium ecourse (which I am on track to official launch this month).

If some percentage purchased our ecourse, the cost of advertising would be mitigated. To what extent or how efficiently I could offset that ad cost remains to be seen.

In addition, by focusing on driving email opt-ins, although not resulting indirect revenue or profits, I’m confident of our ability to build a relationship with subscribers over time. This in turn will either lead to product purchases, marketing projects, or referrals.

Part of the way I plan on nurturing those leads is with an email autoresponder, but I’ll get to that later.

Step #2 – Define the offer and how to structure it

The most important reason to start with the end in mind by explicitly defining your goal is that it will inform your choices in constructing marketing the campaign.

For instance, my goal here was to build my email list, so instead of directly promoting our paid course, I would instead create a landing page with a free offer. Once that offer was opted-in to, I would redirect the visitor over to our paid offer.

In addition, I thought it would also be a strategically wise choice if there was some relevant way to plug our paid offer within the free offer content.

For the free offer, I decided to create a free report called “5 Tools and 5 Tactics Guaranteed to Grow Your Leads.”

Something like this would be relevant to our core service business as well as to our paid course offering.

Step #3 – Create the marketing assets

Here’s what I needed to create in order for the system to run smoothly.

  • Landing page for paid course offering (already done)
  • Landing page for free report offer
  • Free report PDF
  • Create and embed forms with auto-redirect and auto-follow-up email

I started with the free report PDF since that was the foundation. To do this, I didn’t use any fancy “free report creator” software, just MS Word.

I started writing and about an hour later I was done. The formatting the decent, clean.

A few key ideas worth pointing out:

First, I wasn’t concerned with creating a report that was extremely detailed or in depth. My strategy was to simply deliver on the promise that would be made on the opt-in landing page by giving the reader 5 simple and useful bites of value. In other words “here’s the tool, here’s the tactic, and here’s how you do it.”


Second, I recalled when I had studied KISSmetrics free reports / guides in the past that they always made sure to include a call to action and a link at the end of of their PDFs. I decided I would do the same.

So at the end of the report I created I made sure to include a call to action, but I took it one step further.

According to Derek Halpern’s research on pricing, having multiple package offerings increases conversion rates versus having just one package or level of pricing.

Taking this into account, combined with the fact that I knew different people had different budgets and interests, I decided to present two call-to-action buttons. Each button had a quote next to it:

  • “ I want to learn more about how I can get my website to drive more leads.” and…
  • “ I want to learn how you can do it for me so I can focus on running my business.”


Each quote helps to segment readers; it is reflective of what best describes the reader’s interests and state of mind. This gives the reader one of two paths to choose from once they are finished with the report: the super premium, we’ll do it for you offering (“Free Consultation”) or the more affordable option for do-it-yourself-ers (“Buy Ecourse for $49”).

Third, I took the links tactic one step further and included links back to our main site in the footer of each page. I even found a relevant way to plug our free autoresponder ecourse on doubling your lead generation in 30 days.


Finally, I included in the report my name with a headshot to show it was written by a real person, as well as our logo for consistent branding and professionalism.


With the report done, I went ahead and uploaded the file to my cloud based hosting on Amazon S3 and created an embeddable form on Wufoo.com which I would use in the simple opt-in landing page I was about to create.

I kept the form simple: just first name and email address. I didn’t have to do any fancy coding to set the form up to auto-reply with a link to the free report. Wufoo has a feature that let’s you do this, as well as create an auto-redirect after a form is submitted.


From my previous research and writing on landing pages you might know that for a landing page with a free offer, you don’t need a whole lot of text and design. A simple visual que, explanation, and opt-in form will due.


Looking at it now, I’d say that this is probably the weakest part of my mini-marketing system right now.


  • It’s poorly design
  • The call to action isn’t professionally styled or noticeable
  • The navigation at the top of the page is distracting and probably hurts conversions
  • The call to action and form are not above the fold

However, what does work in it’s favor is the fact that I do have a visual que showing what looks like the cover of the report (makes it seems more real). In addition, the text is organized in a way that’s practical.

The first set of bullet point focus on defining the problem or problem people might be facing with growing their businesses. The second set explains the solution, or, more accurately, what the reader will get from the report when he or she opts-in.

With all the key pieces setup, the last task was to write a bit of code on the paid course landing page so that when someone opted-in via email, not only would they be redirected to the paid course landing page, but the page would detect and acknowledge that they had just opted-in and inform of the next step, then get right into the paid offer.

See the screenshot below.


With everything in place, it was time to go ahead and setup the advertising campaign.

Step #4 – Setup advertising


I picked Facebook to start since I was most familiar with the interface from past marketing campaigns.

I plan on testing with Twitter and LinkedIn Ads in the near future as well (although Twitter has proven to be the least effective from a recent campaign I ran there).

The process I used for creating my ads was very unscientific because my goal was to get this system setup and running and then tweak it over time for best results.

That being said here was my thinking about creating the ad campaign.

Facebook asked what your goal is for advertising when you begin. Here I selected “conversions” and was able to quickly and easily install the tracking pixel that enables this capability.

With the limited amount of text space I was given for the ad, I wanted to be crystal clear about what was being offered and what the incentive was.

So I kept it simple and direct: “Do you want more leads for your business? Download our free report now.” That’s it.

Then for the media piece of it I specified the headline as “Free Marketing Report” and the title of the report as the description below the headline.


Facebook gives the option to create up to six variations by selecting six different images, so I uploaded an image of the report I’d mocked up in Photoshop and then selected 5 stock photo images associated with “leads” and “growth.”

As for targeting, I initial tried Facebook’s custom audiences feature, but it seems that my email list, despite being 1,200 strong at the time of this article, isn’t big enough yet. If your list is large enough, I highly encourage you to try this option since it saves time and avoids guess work.



So instead, I selected some key demographics, behaviors, and interests that seems most relevant based on my knowledge of the market.

A key choice I made at the end of the process of setting up this first ad campaign on Facebook was to let it Facebook automatically optimize my bids for conversions. I recall reading somewhere on Neil Patel’s blog that this was the best choice when setting up a campaign.


When I was finished I hit submit and waited for the ads to be reviewed and approved. In total the process took about 40 minutes.

Step #5 – Test the marketing system from start to finish

Whenever you’re testing a marketing system, your goal is to find zero multipliers that might be killing conversions. Here’s the checklist I used to root out any issues:

  • Form opt-in
  • Auto-redirect
  • Auto-follow-up email
  • Link to PDF report
  • PDF report reads well and all links work
  • Ads point to correct landing page
  • Landing page reads well and displays form
  • Paid offer landing page works
  • Paid offer checkout works
  • 2nd landing page for consultation works
  • 2nd landing page form for consultation works

It’s important to the thorough in your testing because more often than not you will find issues.

Final Notes

I mentioned in the beginning how I expect to be able to further build my relationship with subscribers over time even if they don’t immediately buy our ecourse or request a consultation.

The way I intend to do that is two-fold.

First, when someone opts-in to get the free report, I’ll setup up an autoresponder using Saber Blast that will go out to them about an hour after the PDF is delivered confirming they got the PDF and asking them what they thought of it and which tool or tactic was most relevant to their business.

About an hour after that (or perhaps the next day) I’ll set the autoresponder to send them another email letting them know about our free “Double Your Leads in 30 Days” ecourse. The text for that will basically say something like, if you got value from that free report, you’ll get even more value from this free 5 lesson course.

Through out the course, and again at the end, I will promote our paid offers (e.g. ecourse, consultation on working together, etc.).

Second, other than those two follow-up emails, I will also automatically add people who opt-in to get the free report to our weekly marketing newsletter where I link to articles like this one.

Some ideas I have for further improvements at this point are:

  • Creating multiple free report landing pages that appeal to specific market segments (i.e. answering service companies, lawyers, plumbers etc.) and tweaking the advertising to target these segments
  • Improving the overall design of the free report landing page
  • Optimizing the design and text on ads


My hope in running this SLO campaign is that I learn how efficient my system actually is.

Is it 50% efficient (i.e. if I spend $10, do I immediate get $5 back), 100% efficient (it costs nothing out-of-pocket to advertise and get leads), or is it even profitable?

I also hope this article may have inspired some ideas for you in your effort to grow and attract more client leads. If you liked it, do share with others.

PS – If you want to check out the free report for yourself you can click this link or the image below to go and download it right now.



Image credits: http://www.sutherfeeds.com/showfeeds/liquidgold.php
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