Magic at Gründer.de: Seven-digit sales from free plus shipping books

We all know it: There’s no magic. What there is, however, is industry knowledge, market experience, and business know-how. Thomas Klußmann, the CEO of Gründer.de, the biggest founder platform in German-speaking countries, let us take a look behind the scenes of his business in an interview with Digistore24. He reveals how he uses the free plus shipping books as a lead magnet to generate seven-digit sales.

Why does Gründer.de offer so many free plus shipping books?
  1. Offering free plus shipping books is the easiest, most effective, and fastest way to generate leads.”
  2. “If like Gründer.de, you have several target groups, it makes sense to target different groups with various tailor-made sales funnels. That’s why we developed a suitable book to get started for every sales funnel.”
Why do book funnels work so well?
  1. Historical-psychological explanation: Books are valuable objects
    • Book printing has been around since the 15th century. People have known for centuries that a good textbook costs money. This means that a book has a perceived value.
    • Giving away valuable items is a powerful psychological trigger which people find hard to resist.
    • The condition to cover the shipping costs is a rational argument to which most potential customers can relate.
    • On this basis, free plus shipping books convert very well.
  2. Business explanation: Three flies with one flap
    • Aspiring entrepreneurs face four challenges:
      1. Create a product;
      2. Generate reach;
      3. Attract attention;
      4. Build trust among the target audience.
    • These aspects are closely interwoven. Only together do they create a basis for entrepreneurial success:
      If you have a great product that no one knows, you will not be able to sell. If you have reach, but no trust from the target audience, they will not purchase from you. Reach and trust from the target audience are useless if no one pays any attention. And, reach and trust from potential customers are worthless if you have nothing to sell de facto.
    • With a free plus shipping book you immediately overcome all challenges and cover all aspects:
      By advertising a free book, you firstly attain reach and attention. Trust follows when potential customers hold the book in their hands and are, ideally, convinced by the quality of the content when reading.
    • As a bonus, you stay in the customer’s memory: The physical book constantly reminds them of the brand.
    • Therefore, a book is an ideal basis to link with other marketing initiatives and offer higher-priced main products.
This is how sales funnels are constructed on Gründer.de:

“We have several main products such as workshops, coaching, seminars, and online events with up to 50,000 participants. For every product, we’ve identified a well-defined target group and built an appropriate sales funnel geared towards them. Here is a step-by-step example of our workshop sales funnel.”

  1. Book (free plus 4,99 EUR shipping expenses participation): Attention and reach
    “In the first step, we offer a free plus shipping book about starting a company. We run ads for this book on Google AdWords. Prospective customers only pay 4,99 EUR for postage.”
  2. Audiobook (14,99 EUR): First sales
    “When sales leads order our free plus shipping book, they end up in the Digistore24 shopping cart and see the possibility to immediately purchase the audiobook as well. Around every tenth person buys the audiobook right away. That’s how we generate the first sales.”
  3. Video course (44,99 EUR): Additional revenue through Upsells
    “When you complete the purchase, you are directed to the Upsells site where you can immediately order the matching online video course. The advantage of Upsells is that the customer can include the offered product in their order without having to provide all the order information again.”
  4. Workshops (1.000 EUR – 10.000 EUR): Revenue through higher-priced main products
    “Those customers who bought the video course, receive an invitation to a personal small group workshop in our office in Cologne. At the workshop, participants will spend a weekend with myself and our team working together to develop their business ideas and to plan the next steps to build their own businesses.”
The Gründer.de sales funnel is based on the following marketing-psychological considerations:
  • Goals of the first three stages of the sales funnel:
    1. The first three steps of the Gründer.de sales funnel serve first and foremost to build reach and trust among target groups, thus creating a basis for selling the main product. The turnover of the first three stages of the funnel mostly serves the purpose of covering the production and advertising costs.
    2. During the funnel, customers are prequalified and prepared for the workshops.
  • Goal of the last stage of the sales funnel:
    Gründer.de only turns over a large revenue and generates a considerable profit at the end of the funnel with the main product.
  • The marketing-psychological background of the sales funnel:
    The Gründer.de workshops cost between 1.000 and 10.000 Euros. If Gründer.de offered these higher-priced products that need a lot of explanation directly on their site, their sales rate would drop significantly. Consumers are only willing to buy expensive products when they know a brand or already trust in the quality so that they can make a risk-free purchase decision. However, when consumers first pass through the Gründer.de sales funnel, they have gradually been able to convince themselves of the quality of the content and have consequently gained trust. By purchasing the products from the first three stages of the sales funnel, they are also perfectly prepared to consume the main product: They have the required knowledge base, are familiar with the terminology, and already have a basic understanding.
  • Additional stages of the sales funnel:
    Potential workshop customers have the opportunity to reach Gründer.de over the phone. Customers find this step very valuable because they can clarify any open questions. This step reduces uncertainty and therefore increases the purchase probability.
This is how Gründer.de built a network of 7.000 advertising partners:
  1. Automated partner acquisition:
    “Most advertising partners find us on the Digistore24 marketplace, where we have a vendor profile and present our products. When affiliates on the marketplace become aware of our products, they contact us directly. Our employees decide if the respective advertising partner is serious enough to be associated with our products. We generate an average of 25 – 50 advertising partners per day through the Digistore24 marketplace. The product sales are automatically assigned to each respective affiliate. The payment is also automated. This allows us to get the maximum effect with minimal effort.
  2. Active partner acquisition:
    “We proactively approach potential advertising partners at trade shows and events. If they are interested, we invite them to sign up to the Digistore24 marketplace in order to generate an affiliate link to our sales page, with which sales can be identified and assigned. We gain a lot of partners at our own events such as the Online Marketing Conference or the Founders’ Congress. Many of our customers also like to become partners. They believe in our products and can brilliantly use their reach to generate sales commission.”

Data and facts about the sales funnel on Gründer.de:

Gründer.de builds their sales funnels based on these Digistore24 features:

AUTOMATED AFFILIATE MANAGEMENT
“The lion’s share of our customers come to our sales funnels via our advertising partners, who want to be paid for their service. The automatic calculation of commission spares us the horror of manually settling up with our 7.000 advertising partners. That would be a mammoth task for which we would need to hire at least one employee. The affiliate management via Digistore24, therefore, saves me at least one employee and a huge amount of stress. Instead, I have happy advertising partners who get their commission partly in real time, and who are motivated to advertise to further customers.”

ONE-CLICK-UPSELLS
The success of our sales funnel is based on the Upsells feature. One Click Upsells made history at Gründer.de. Upsells multiplied our revenue when we introduced it in 2014. That was an absolute wow moment for me. The purchase quota increases significantly when customers are offered further products during the ordering process that can be integrated into the ordering process with just one click.”

CUSTOMIZATION OF SHIPPING COSTS
“Admittedly, our sales funnels are built on free plus shipping books that are still sent at a standardized price. However, integrating this new feature is already on our to-do list. The customization of shipping costs is becoming more and more important to us right now: In the course of scaling, we are expanding internationally. The customization of shipping costs gives us the possibility to differentiate shipping costs depending on the destination country. This creates maximum transparency for our customers and helps to build trust.”

AUTOMATED SHIPPING
“With 50,000 books a month, the interface between Digistore24 and our shipping service provider saves us a huge amount of logistical effort. The entire order process, from payment until shipping, runs completely automatically and passes us by. Digistore24 even undertakes the returns and refunds. We only catch wind of these from the reports which we can view any time on our dashboard.”

SUBSCRIPTION SYSTEMS
“When we sell subscriptions for our digital products, we attract potential customers to the sales funnel with a testing price of only 1 EUR for the first month. With Digistore24, we can perfectly map our subscription systems: In the first month we change the special price and from the second month on the subscription is then taken up to the regular pricing level. The management and possible questions of our customers is undertaken by the Digistore24 support.”

DIGIMEMBER
“A fully equipped membership area is essential for digital subscription products. Digistore24 provides us with DigiMember a membership area that is perfectly set up. The support team also takes care of our customers’ concerns here – we just see that our customers are happy.”

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