The Most Effective Sales Tactic: Adding Bonuses by Pat Flynn


If you want to sell anything online, an excellent method to encourage for people to purchase from you is to combine bonuses with your product.

Let’s look at Pat Flynn’s real-life example!


What Does a “Bonus” Mean In Online Marketing?

A bonus may mean the contrast between somebody sitting on the fence, and turning that fence-sitter into a client. It also determines the difference between you and your rivals.

This isn’t anything new though, of course. We see bonuses being offered all the time – both online and off. According to Derek Halpern from Social Triggers, most people are combining bonuses with their goods the wrong way, and their sales are decreasing because of it. However, if you choose the right route, you can enjoy high sales rates!! **

Image of the bonuses that increase sales.

Derek was recently featured as a guest on the SPI Podcast. During our chat about sales, he had very strong opinions about how people should include bonuses along-side their products for maximum conversions.

Importance of conversion.

Therefore, this post is meant to dig deeper into the art of giving bonuses and give you some direction with regards to the types of products you should sell online.

Don’t have any goods to trade yet?

Doesn’t matter.

These strategies will work for affiliate marketing too. I’ve done very well in the past offering the right bonuses while recommending the products and services of others. If you want people to go through YOUR affiliate link, then you should be offering bonuses of your own too.

Significance of affiliate link.

Here are some questions I’ll be tackling:

  • What creates a great bonus that pushes people to buy?
  • How do you know what to offer in addition to the main product that you’re selling?
  • How do you package everything together?
  • How do you deliver the bonuses (especially if you’re an affiliate)?

Let’s get into it!

The Very First Bonus Pat Ever Offered – What He Did Right & What He Did Wrong?

When he was preparing to sell his very first product online, a 90-page study guide that helps professionals in the design industry pass the LEED exam, he was advised by some friends in a mastermind group to include bonuses along with his eBook.

Even though he was a rookie at the time, this made complete sense to him.

Adding bonuses would increase the overall value of the eBook that Pat was selling. He knew that people love to get free stuff when they purchase things. He was attracted to the idea of a bonus.

Image of online shopping.

Unfortunately, Pat had a hard time trying to figure out what bonus (or bonuses) he should offer for his book. He had a 90-page guide, complete with a set of practice exam questions and printable flash cards, but what could he add as a bonus on top of that?

That’s when it hit him.

The practice exam questions and the printable flash cards were the bonuses! All Pat would have to do is simply reframe how they were packaged in the sales copy, so that’s what he did.

Instead of selling the guide for $19.95, a guide which included practice exam questions and a set of printable flash cards, he sold the guide for $19.95, and gave away the practice exam questions and flash cards for free.

Same offer. Different packaging.

He didn’t know it at the time, but Pat was following Derek’s advice from his post:

“When you’re giving bonuses, sell the product, and give away the bonuses for free.

DO NOT sell the product and bonuses as a packaged price.”

Image of the example of cupcake&cookies sales. Derek then follows up that statement with research by Jerry Burger from 1986 when he split tested selling cupcakes and cookies at a bake sale.

A group of test subjects were offered a cupcake and two cookies for $0.75, and they bought 40% of the time.

Another group was offered a cupcake for $0.75 and two cookies for free, and they bought 73% of the time.

Same offer. Different packaging.

Pat did it right, but he did follow it up with a mistake:

E-book example. He didn’t separate the bonuses from the 90-page eBook – he just left them the way they were at the end of the single PDF file.

This didn’t cause too much harm, but Pat had several emails come through after sales starting coming in from people asking where the bonuses were.

“They are in the back of the book. You can see it there in the table of contents.”, he’d say.

After some thought, he realized that it was a bum move on his part. Pat then used the word bum specifically because he was just being lazy.

If Pat had actually thought about it some more, he would have realized that having 3 separate PDF files;

  • First for the main study guide,
  • Another for the practice exam questions and
  • A third one for the flash cards.

would have cleared a lot of the confusion and helped make customers feel like they got more for their money.

Plus, it would have made printing those sections much easier.

After a month of sales (and several emails from confused customers), he quickly took out the practice exam and flash cards and put each of them into individual PDF file. Pat didn’t hear any more complaints after that.

What Are The Rules About Bonuses In Your Package?

Rule 1: Always package your offer so that your bonuses are given away for free on top of the main product that you’re offering.

Rule 2: Deliver the bonuses as items that are separate from the main product.

Rule 3: Your bonuses should always relate directly to the product that you’re selling.

Your Bonus and How It is Related to Your Product

When Pat started doing business online, he subscribed to about 20 different newsletters from 20 different internet marketing gurus who were said to be the leaders in the field at the time.

Example of the newsletter in email marketing.

He did this to “learn from the best”, but after getting bombarded with email after email and offer after offer, Pat quickly learned how not to treat his readers and subscribers.

For most of these gurus (not all of them), building a relationship and getting to know him seemed to be low on their priority list. Using extremely convincing copy writing techniques and trying to get him to pull out his credit card was at the top.

One interesting thing he did notice were patterns in what they were selling. Quite often, a large group of them would be promoting one product from one person in the group at the same time.

Online sales with email marketing.

Every couple of months, he would normally get 10-12 emails on the same day all promoting one particular product at a time (coordinated, obviously). What was interesting was the bonuses that they each offered in addition to the headline product.

They were all very different.

Knowing that there were probably a lot of people like himself who were signed up to multiple email lists, they knew that their bonuses were the differentiators.

Grow your email list.

And some of the bonus offerings he saw were pretty ridiculous.

There was a $1997.00 product being offered once, and a couple of affiliates threw everything they owned into the bag. They included, as a bonus, every product they had ever sold before.

This was 8 to 10 additional items, most not relating directly to the headline product, but it would hike up the value of the package from $1997.00, to well over $10k for some of them. For one, that’s crazy.

I mean – what a way to lower the value of your existing products by just throwing them in for free. He couldn’t imagine what it would be like to be a customer of one or more of those products in the past.

Image of the e-commerce-portals.

But secondly, as someone who was reading these emails to learn – these kind of offers were just overwhelming.

What could he do with all of that information? For potential buyers, he just needed accurate data.

Through that experience, he learned that bonuses aren’t about the dollar value that’s added to the package and, you cannot throw just about anything into your packages.

A great bonus is all about how beneficial it is and how relevant it is to the purpose of those who get the main product.

As Derek mentions:

“You want to give away something related to what you’re selling. If it’s not related to what you’re selling, it’s not going to help increase your sales.”

How to Make a Delicious Bonus Sandwich

The way you package your bonuses along with your main product is very important.

Image of the packaging.

We’ve already talked about how you should make sure you sell your main product and then give away your bonuses for free on top of it, but there’s a specific bonus-giving framework that Derek talked about that has a lot of the SPI community buzzing.

It’s called a bonus sandwich, and it’s a vertically integrated offer that works like this:

  • Your main product is the “meat” (or veggie patty) of the sandwich. To complete your sandwich, you may want to add bonuses that are the “bread” of your sandwich – one for below your meat, and another that goes above it.

  • The “bread on the bottom” is a bonus that asks something that may be limiting your typical client from utilizing the main goods that you’re trading right now.

  • The “bread on the top” is a bonus that you create related to your main product that people can use after they purchase it.

Example of the bonus sandwich.

Most people who include accurately linked bonuses with their goods do add the bread on the top, but including an extra bonus to fill in the gap for those who are not ready for your main product is an awesome idea.

As Derek explains:

“The point of the bonus sandwich is to turn as many browsers into buyers as possible by creating bonuses that address the objections that your customer may have to buying what you sell.”

The “bread on the top” bonus is fairly easy to discover. Just simply ask yourself:

What’s something that my customer could find extremely useful after using my product?


What actions will my clients take after buying or utilizing the product?

Seo in Youtube.

For example, if you’re selling a course on creating web videos, an “after use” bonus could be:

  • An eBook about how to promote your videos on YouTube for the highest exposure.

  • A quick 2-part video about how to transcribe your videos and what to do with those transcriptions for SEO.

  • Access to a community where you can share your videos and get honest feedback to help you improve.

However, the “bread on the bottom” bonus is a bit difficult to deal with. To find a great “bread on the bottom” bonus, Pat has suggested these 3 points;

  • List any objections, fears and doubts that a prospective customer may have before using your product.

Continuing with Pat’s example, if you’re selling a course on creating web videos, one objection or fear a potential customer might have is having to put themselves in front of the camera.

People can think that they don’t want to have a course on producing videos for the web because they don't feel good in front of the camera and then they'll decide to continue writing blog posts.

The bonus may be an eBook, or perhaps a few bonus videos that go into how to record professional looking screen casts (so you don’t have to show your face on camera, just simply record what’s on your computer).

  • List any mandatory requirements or “things that your customer would already have to have” before being able to use your product.

If you were selling a course on creating web videos, people might think they need expensive camera equipment to get started.

Another bonus might be a 1 or 2 page PDF or diagram of the best camera equipment that anyone could easily setup in their home for under $200.

  • Ask your audience.

When in doubt, ask your audience. They are who you’re serving anyway, so why not ask your potential customers?

Ask questions your audience.

Talk to them individually (on the phone or Skype, if possible), and dig deep into the fears and reservations your audience might have towards the purpose and goal of your main product.

To be honest, you should have already done this even before creating your product (because their answers should shape what your product becomes), but you can always benefit from talking directly with your readers, subscribers and potential customers.

So, to put all of this together, a nice bonus sandwich might look like this:

Meat: A course on creating web videos.

Bottom Bread: A bonus guide that reveals the best camera equipment setup for under $200.

Top Bread: An in-depth YouTube marketing strategy eBook, complete with tips from some of the top YouTube experts in the world.

Types of Bonuses to Offer

The exact bonuses that you can create and include are totally up to you.

Be creative, because that’s what will help you stand out from the crowd, especially if you’re promoting something as an affiliate.

Remember, you can use a lot of these strategies (including the bonus sandwich), when promoting products as an affiliate.

As many of you know, Pat promoted a product called Opt-in Skin.

Image of the opt-in skin.

Opt-in Skin is a slick premium WordPress plugin created by Glen Allsop from Viperchill that allows anyone to easily place optimized opt-in forms pretty much anywhere you’d like on your site.

(If you’re on the blog now, scroll to the bottom of this post before the comments section and you can see it in action.)

Opt-in Skin gives you the ability to select from several different pre-loaded “skins”, which act like themes for your email opt-in forms.

Best opt-in skin alternatives.

Before promoting Opt-in Skin, he had a developer create an additional “bonus plugin” that when installed would add 5 additional SPI themed skins to the plugin.

It’s sort of like an expansion pack.

Even today, this bonus is still working extremely well and Pat remembered many emails from people who said that they specifically purchased Opt-in Skin from his affiliate link because of the bonus that he offered with it.

Image of the opt-in skin forms.It’s been about a year and a half since Opt-in Skin came out, and since then, he has earned over $50,000 in affiliate commissions from this one product (and bonus) alone.

Looking back, the bonus plugin was a great “top bread bonus” that people could use to enhance their experience with the main product. It was unlike any other bonus that was available, but he could have potentially done even better by creating a “bottom bread bonus” that helped people get an email list setup in the first place, because people can’t use Opt-in Skin until they first have an email list to connect those opt-in forms to.

Pat could have easily repurposed that blog post into a short eBook, added a bit more content to it made specifically for potential Opt-in Skin customers, and he would've probably had a lot more people go through his affiliate link.

As you can see, bonuses can really be anything. Here’s a short-list:

  • eBooks
  • Video or audio files
  • Entire mini-courses
  • Additional software
  • Access to special webinars and events
  • Access to a private community or forum
  • Checklists
  • Quick start guides
  • Resource lists

Remember to be useful and relevant.

That’s what you want, and that’s what your customers want too.

How to Deliver Your Bonus (and Why it’s Okay to ‘Steal’)

When you’re selling your own product, the method by which you deliver your bonuses can vary.

Successful delivering process for the bonuses.

If, for example, your main product requires members to log into a web portal to gain access to coursework and videos, you could easily include the bonuses in their individual sections within that membership site.

If your main product is an eBook, you could include additional files or instructions in the .zip file that they download.

Or, you could automate the delivery of those products via email after purchase.

When you’re including bonuses as an affiliate, you don’t have the luxury of controlling where users end up after a purchase nor do you have access to the product owner’s email list.

Most people, including Pat, give instructions to people who purchase through an affiliate link to forward their receipt to a specific email address.

From that point, you or a virtual assistant can collect those emails and then reply with a specific link or attachment, depending on what the bonus is.

The problem is that this can turn into a major hassle, especially if the promotion is long-term and (hopefully) going very well.

Tips of email lists.

Here’s a solution that Pat used:

1. Create a new email address for the specific promotion you’re running. It should be easy to remember, like bonus@ or (name of product)@.

2. Create a vacation-reply (auto-response) that includes a thank you note and then a link to download or get access to the bonus. This will work for most types of bonuses that you offer.

3. Instruct people to forward their receipt to the email address you created, and when they do, they should get an auto-reply from you with information to get their bonus included.

He likes this solution because it’s coming from a real email address (so the gmail promotional tab issue that some email service providers run into doesn’t typically apply here) and – it’s automated.

Are you aware of email finder tools? Take a look at our article: Top 15 Email Finder Tools: Pros and Cons + Reviews 2020

Now, you might be thinking to yourself:

1. If this process is automated, how are you checking the receipts?

2. What if people see that it’s automated and start sharing the email address?

3. Will some people end up getting your bonuses for free!

Firstly, the bonuses are free to begin with.

And secondly…GOOD!

Pat wanted as many people to grab a hold of his bonuses as possible (without me just handing them out publicly), because even if they didn’t purchase the main product yet, the bonuses should always be related to it, and he always included a special page that re-promotes the main product just in case people somehow get the bonuses first.

Demand of online shopping.

If the bonuses are awesome, then a lot of those people who think they’re slick by bypassing your affiliate link will go back and purchase the main product related to that bonus. Even if they don’t, they’re new to your brand and will become potential customers down the road.

And if they don’t purchase anything from you or become a customer down the road – well – those aren’t the types of people you want as customers or subscribers anyway.

Plus, it’s not always people who are just trying to be slick – a lot of times these bonuses are shared by those who legitimately get access to them.

Importance of the email subscribers.

For example, the practice exam questions and flash cards from GreenExamAcademy are shared quite often among the architecture community, which the product owner loved because each share and copy ends up in front of a new potential customer who typically ends up on the site.

Each of those bonuses are marked with the site URL and some promotional content for paid products, and the owner always encourages his customers to share them with their workmates and colleagues.

So why ask for the receipt in the first place?

A couple of reasons:

Firstly, everyone who sends the owner their receipt is also sending proof that they’re a buyer.

In marketing, the only thing better than having an email list is having an email list of buyers, which is why Amazon’s 300 million registered users are way more valuable than however many people are on Facebook or Twitter.

Image of the amazon-email-subscribers.

Additionally, the act of forwarding a receipt becomes a real exchange and their experience with buying, doing and getting something extra will be more fulfilling.

It creates more bonuses out of the bonus, if that makes sense.

If Pat just publicly gave away his Opt-in Skin bonus on the front end (meaning anyone could easily figure out how to download it even before purchasing Opt-in Skin) then it wouldn’t seem like much of a bonus at all.

It wouldn’t be as cool to get your hands on it, and you should always want your bonuses to be “cool to get your hands on”.

Image of the online shopping and store.

Before I Finish Up…

Pat just wanted to say thanks again to Derek Halpern for sharing his expertise in the SPI Podcast and inspiring him to go in-depth with bonus-giving here in this post.

I hope you got something good out of it, and I hope you actually use this information the next time you sell something of your own or as an affiliate.

Source: Pat Flynn

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