Tripwire Marketing: Lure in More Customers With 12 Slam-Dunk Ideas

by Neil Patel

Last updated on July 19th, 2018

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You’re unhappy with your conversion rate. People just aren’t buying what you’re selling. The solution might lie in tripwire marketing.

The term tripwire marketing might sound a little shady, like you’re trying to get one over on your customer. That’s not the case at all.

Marketing and advertising experts have been using tripwire marketing for decades in one form or another, and it works just as well online as it does in brick-and-mortar stores. In fact, it’s even more effective because you can more easily stay in touch with the customer.

What is tripwire marketing? And how does it work? Those are two of the many questions I’ll answer for you today.

If you’re interested in a particular topic, feel free to skip around. I’m going to cover the following:

What is Tripwire Marketing?

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Tripwire marketing is a conversion-acceleration hack that convinces target consumers to buy something small from you rather than a more expensive product or service.

There are actually two versions of tripwire marketing you can use to produce more conversions.

The first one involves luring in customers with low-cost offers.

Imagine for a moment that you sell online courses. You offer a monster e-course with dozens of videos, articles, and other assets, and it’s priced at $1,000.

That’s a lot of money for a consumer to spend on a company with which he has no experience. If you haven’t been in business long, you might not have strong social proof or other ways to speed up conversions and overcome objections.

To incentivize conversions, you might create a mini-course that supplements your primary course. It could include one or two short videos, a couple checklists, and a few articles.

Pricing this much smaller course at $20 or even $100 makes the product far more attractive to new customers. Most people are more willing to spend small amounts of money than a huge chunk.

You then set up a tripwire marketing campaign. The tripwire — your mini-course — serves as proof of concept. It shows your customers that you deliver what you promise. They become enmeshed in your sales funnel, so you can market to them via email and other means to convert them on the larger product.

The second tripwire marketing strategy focuses on consumer behavior.

Let’s say you run a subscription service for which you charge $30 per month. Customer A has been a loyal subscriber for six months, then suddenly cancels his membership.

That’s a tripwire.

You can then use email marketing to reel in Customer A. Reach out via email to ask what went wrong or if you can improve your subscription service in any way. Then you offer a can’t-miss deal, such as one month for $5 instead of the standard $30 — with the option to cancel at any time, of course.

Both tripwire marketing campaigns can produce incredible ROI, but let’s explore the reasons behind their often-impressive results.

How Tripwire Marketing Can Help you Get More Conversions

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Your conversion rate is the percentage of people who, when presented with an offer, take you up on the deal. It’s that simple.

When you make your offer more appealing — such as creating a low-cost alternative to an expensive product — your conversions will increase. You just have to make sure you’re providing sufficient value to warrant further purchases.

I’ve talked about lead magnets on the Crazy Egg blog as well as on NeilPatel.com, and they still work. However, sometimes it’s better to offer a product or service at a low price point than to offer it for free.

Why? People don’t always value free.

Business Insider published an excerpt of famed marketer Ramit Sethi’s bestselling book, “Your Move: The Underdog’s Guide to Building Your Business.” In it, Sethi says:

“People value what they pay for…You’re not doing [prospects] a disservice by charging them, you’re actually doing a profound service for the people who want to take action.”

Sethi says he used to give away free copies of his $2,000 course. He just wanted to help people. However, most never even logged in.

He makes a good point that, if you don’t put a value on a product, your prospects probably won’t, either. But when you charge even a nominal amount, you send the message that you assign value to your own product — and so should everyone else.

Tripwire Funnel Examples

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Tripwire marketing should become part of your overall conversion funnel strategy. It deserves its own place.

The tripwire itself can belong in a few different places in your funnel depending on how you use it.

For instance, many marketers use tripwires as a top-of-funnel strategy. They use SEO and content marketing to increase web traffic, then offer an insane amount of value for a low price. That’s a great way to convert people quickly.

You can also use it in the middle of the funnel, though. Let’s say you have an email list full of people who converted on your free lead magnet. Set up a drip campaign — a series of emails — that promotes your tripwire offer.

Finally, consider tripwire marketing for the retention part of your funnel. Bring customers back by offering a great deal on something of immense value, then slip them into another drip campaign — one designed to promote your more expensive product or service.

Building your Tripwire Strategy

There’s a reason I call tripwire marketing a strategy. It isn’t something you just throw together and toss into the air, hoping consumers grab it. Make your tripwire an integral part of your business.

Go back to the questions you ask yourself when designing any marketing strategy:

  1. Who is your target customer?
  2. What do they want?
  3. What’s preventing them from getting what they want?
  4. How can you provide a solution?

Once you answer those questions accurately, you can apply them to creating a tripwire product and marketing it effectively.

If you want to lure back customers who have stopped buying from you, use the tripwire as an excuse for them to come back. You might send an email that says, “Hey, I just launched this super affordable product I think you might be interested in.”

When the prospect converts on your offer, remind him or her that you still have the original product available.

How to Create a Tripwire

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Now that you’re familiar with tripwire marketing, let’s dig into some specifics. How do you create a tripwire that will boost conversions for your business?

The best tripwire ideas come from specific needs or desires. Analyze data you already have based on consumer buying habits and other user behaviors so you know where to start.

Step 1: Examine your product or service line

What products do you already offer? How much do they cost? These two questions become integral to creating a tripwire because you need to know what motivates your audience.

Think about common objections to your products or services. Maybe your target market finds them too expensive, for instance, or perhaps you’re new to the space, so you haven’t built sufficient trust.

Step 2: Find the product or service that gets the most sales

If you sell multiple products or services, figure out which one gets the most sales. That should become the basis for your tripwire because your most popular item already creates demand.

Maybe you create and sell hidden object games that customers can download and play. Most games cost around $12, but your conversions are lower than you’d like.

Look for the games that get the most downloads. You can decide how many you want to focus on. These will become the basis for your tripwire in the next step.

Step 3: Create a new version that costs much less, but still contains value

I’m not suggesting that you should take a huge financial hit for your business. If you sell online games, don’t give them away for free just because nobody’s buying.

Instead, either create a new version of an existing product or service — think “product lite” — or bundle several low-cost items at a great discount.

The goal here is similar to that of a lead magnet. You want people to buy your product because it’s a great deal.

Step 4: Start an email drip campaign for customers who buy the tripwire item

When you sell a tripwire item, don’t stop there. Nurture your leads by communicating via email.

You want those customers to come back and spend more on your business. To do that, you must remind them of the value they received from your tripwire product.

Direct them to your blog, invite them to follow you on social, and end each email with a CTA for your more expensive product. Make sure it’s directly related to the tripwire.

For instance, if your audience bought a hidden-object game bundle for $1, don’t ask them to convert on an offer for first-person shooter games. You’re targeting the wrong audience.

Step 5: Feature your tripwire product throughout your website

Exposure is critical to the success of your tripwire marketing campaign. If prospects can’t find it, they won’t buy.

Consider adding the tripwire product to your navigation bar or header. You could also use a Hello Bar to capture your website visitors’ attention.

Don’t forget to emphasize the value proposition. It isn’t just what the customer will get, but the low price involved. Your CTA might look like this: “Get 4 of our best-selling games for just $1! Offer ends soon.”

Creating a limited-time tripwire can boost conversions even further. Consider rotating your offers if you have more than one so you can take advantage of urgency.

Step 6: Add a lead magnet to your conversion forms to capture more emails

Lead magnets, tripwire marketing, and email marketing can work together in harmony. In most cases, you want to focus on one CTA at a time. Giving your prospects a choice, however, can sometimes pay off.

Let’s say you have three products:

  1. Huge online course (main product)
  2. Mini course (tripwire product)
  3. Short e-book (lead magnet)

The tripwire creates a happy medium between free and expensive.

The same strategy can work for other industries, including SaaS. Your three options might include the following:

  • Primary SaaS product
  • $10 trial
  • Free demo

The free demo restricts features, so if your audience wants to try out the full package, they might convert on the $10 trial versus the free demo.

You’re not necessarily leaving money on the table, either. Those who try the free demo might still buy your product, and you can enter them into your email database.

Step 7: Follow up with tripwire customers to ask for their feedback

Don’t miss out on an opportunity to get direct feedback from your customers. I do this all the time.

I recently sent out an email to my subscriber list that asked for direct feedback. It looked like this:

Notice that I didn’t ask people to fill out a survey or answer a poll. I asked them to actually reply to my email and give me detailed feedback.

You can do the same. Sure, you might have to wade through hundreds (or even thousands) of emails, but you’ll get insightful feedback that you can apply to tripwire marketing moving forward.

What Is a Good Conversion Rate for a Tripwire?

There’s no set “good conversion rate” for tripwire marketing, but you can learn from case studies. For instance, one company generated a conversion rate of nearly 10 percent using a tripwire priced at $9.95.

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More importantly, their upsell rate — the percentage of people who converted on the larger product — was 26 percent. That’s pretty impressive.

You might not have the same results, but you can keep fine-tuning your tripwire marketing efforts until you find the strategy that results in the most conversions.

Optimize your Tripwire’s Conversions with Website Optimization  Tools

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Conversion rate optimization (CRO) can play a hefty role in your tripwire marketing campaign’s success. You already have a powerful strategy to lure in more customers, but you need the tools necessary to understand your audience and better serve their needs.

Consider, for instance, how your website visitors behave when they land on your site. What pages do they visit first? How long do they spend? How far do they scroll?

You can get those results from user behavior reports, such as heatmaps and scroll maps. These tools allow you to visualize user behavior and capitalize on what you learn.

A heatmap, for instance, might show intense activity on your lead magnet form. Perhaps you could test replacing that area with your tripwire offer.

tripwire-marketing-heatmap

Don’t rely on guesswork, though. Continually A/B test the placement of your tripwire offers on your website to pinpoint the best locations.

Start Now: 12 Tripwire Ideas

There’s no reason to wait when it comes to tripwire marketing. Get out there with your offer and start earning more conversions.

If you’re struggling to come up with tripwire ideas, here are 12 that might resonate with your audience.

  1. E-book
  2. Content upgrade
  3. Webinar
  4. 15-minute consultation
  5. Cheat sheet or checklist
  6. Instructional video
  7. Trial period
  8. Email consultations
  9. Partial product
  10. X downloads
  11. X products for $X

Any of these tripwires can work, but the right one depends on your business model.

You can see tripwire marketing in action at DesignCuts.com. It’s an extreme example that proves the methodology works.

DesignCuts offers bundles of creative assets at steep discounts — usually 97 percent or more.

tripwire-marketing-example

This might just seem like a regular marketing strategy, but it’s not. DesignCuts wants you to buy these steeply discounted bundles, but it also wants you to buy individual products from its marketplace.

As you can see from DesignCuts and similar businesses, tripwire marketing can work as a foundational strategy as well as a supplement to your other marketing efforts.

Conclusion

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What is tripwire marketing?

It’s a way to convince your target audience to buy a product from your business at a low cost. The action triggers a marketing campaign designed to convert those buyers on more expensive offers.

You can also use tripwire marketing to bring back customers who have disappeared into the ether. Remind them you still exist and why they bought from you in the first place.

I’ve provided 12 tripwire marketing ideas, but you can get creative and come up with your own, too. Focus on your target audience’s pain points.Then hit them with a product at a price point they can’t refuse.

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Neil Patel

Neil Patel is the co-founder of Crazy Egg and Hello Bar. He helps companies like Amazon, NBC, GM, HP and Viacom grow their revenue.

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