An example of a free gift sample of a homemade macaroon cookie with attached business card from Storybook Artifact
I think the extra special touches that Etsy sellers put into their packages reminds the buyer that they are not ordering from a company that makes mass-produced and soulless gadgets and gizmos, they are instead ordering from individuals, mom and pop virtual brick and mortar storefronts, and home-based little cottage industries. Etsy is a place where sellers sell handmade one-of-a-kind treasures...not something that was made in a child labor sweatshop! I highly value the works of art found on Etsy; as well as the vintage lovelies that recycle the things that are saved from being forgotten from our past and are given a new life. I know, I am going a bit off topic here, my point is, I think receiving a free gift in an Etsy order is a very special touch (just like the handwritten note, pretty packaging, or handwritten address) that reminds the customer that they are buying from an individual who actually put thought and care into wrapping their package!
I think this is even more expressed if you give a free gift that is relevant or related to the item that they have purchased; I think this is a very good idea for several reasons. The item demonstrates the other like-items in your shop reminding the buyer that you have more to offer and hopefully inspiring them to return and make another purchase. Since it is something similar to what they purchased, they are also more likely to use or appreciate the free gift. For example, we sell a lot of vintage magazine prints, so I will include a smaller half-page magazine advertisement from the same era that advertises a similar item (like a liquor ad, women's lingerie ad, etc.). We do this in our sister shop "Eco-Friendly Freckles" as well and have received wonderful reviews thanking us for the free thoughtful gifts. We have also included vintage decorative shoe inserts in some of our vintage shoe packages...and we included coupon codes with all orders. I also love the idea of including a recipe if you are a vintage seller; for instance, a purchase of barware glasses gets a cocktail recipe, a cookbook gets a recipe card.
An example of a free half-page magazine advertisement gift from "sister shops" LaOohLaLa Boutique and Eco-Friendly Freckles
Also, we do not do this, but I think it is a good idea, if you make art prints, illustrations, or oil paintings, have a print made of your art piece and have it made into bookmarks, buttons, keychains, magnets, postcards, greeting cards, custom pencils, pens, or other "functional" freebie items and in small print have your shop URL printed on it somewhere so the buyer can enjoy the free gift, it advertises your work of art, and they have easy access to your shop link anytime they want to return to your shop! The guests in their home will also see it! Also, getting a professionally made customized rubber stamp or stickers with your shop URL is great to use on the outside of your packaging; as your package travels through the mail, all the people who come into contact with the package will see your shop link and possibly be intrigued to check it out. As the envelope or box sits in the customer's house it may get reused. Your logo is like a little mini billboard for your shop. :-)
I always appreciate a free gift; I have been buying and selling on Etsy for years; I have received beautifully wrapped items that look like a special present has arrived in the mail...you won't get this from other websites like Ebay or Amazon! I order make-up on Etsy, I get showered with free makeup samples which inspire me to try out new things! I love free soap samples too! The ACEOs, handmade gift tags, and artist postcards I have received over the years I absolutely treasure and I either keep them or give them as a gift to a friend.
The one thing that I would not suggest, is to give out freebies that are actually mass-produced, soulless, and irrelevant to your shop items; for instance if you make and sell homemade cookies and candies, I would LOVE to receive one of your free tasty creations, but PLEASE do not toss store-bought Halloween candy into my package! Unless, I suppose it was a luxury candy and you had professional wrappers made to advertise your shop...Also, if you send candy, it needs to be able to withstand the ever-changing temperatures during transit. Best of luck Etsy sellers, keep being thoughtful, creative, personable, and dressing up your packages! ;-)