Want more email subscribers – and more leads? The single best way to get them is to offer a lead magnet – a free incentive for joining your email list. Lead magnets are also called “sign up incentives”, “sign up offers”, “ethical bribes”, “freemiums”, “content upgrades”, and many other terms. They can be a report in PDF format, a series of emails (aka an autoresponder), a coupon, or even a free half hour of consulting – though we’ll get into all that in more detail later. For now, just know
- Lead magnets can come in many forms and formats
- Adding a lead magnet can double your opt-in rate
- Lead magnets don’t have to take a month to create
The more, the merrier
Already got a lead magnet? Don’t stop reading! For those of you who already have a lead magnet on your site, the next best way to grow your email list is to add a second lead magnet. You can use the second lead magnet to test against your current lead magnet, or use your second lead magnet near related content. For example, say you have a lead magnet about the best tools to use near a blog post about tools, and you have a lead magnet about strategies near a post about strategies. Relevancy is everything in marketing, especially online marketing, so adding these related lead magnets can significantly increase your opt-in if you do them right.
How to choose the topic for your lead magnet
The first thing to do is to choose the right topic for your lead magnet. Get that right, and half the battle is won. There are three essential questions you have to answer to choose a topic for your lead magnet.
- What topics do your ideal customers or clients want to know about?
- What topics would be easiest for you to create a lead magnet about?
- What content format would be the best way to deliver that information?
Figuring out what your customers really want to know about is a big topic, but don’t let that scare you. It’s actually pretty easy. You can find out what your ideal audience wants to know by asking them with online surveys. Or you can see how they behave on social media (what they like and don’t like) with tools like BuzzSumo. Or you can visit forums and LinkedIn groups and other places online where your audience gathers. Even one or two hours spent listening in on what your ideal audience is saying about your niche will give you plenty of ideas for great lead magnet topics. Look for problems they’re really struggling with, common questions, new areas of interest, or topics that are controversial.
The next step is to take that list of potential topics, and choose just one that you can easily make into a lead magnet. Many of you will immediately think of writing this lead magnet, but if you’re not so big on writing, I’ve got really good news: Lead magnets don’t have to be written. They also don’t have to be long.
Longer is not better
Some of us have made the mistake of thinking that hundred-page ebooks or detailed, lengthy online courses would work best as a lead magnet. Often, they don’t. I once spent nearly six months working on a detailed, highly valuable research project that I later used as a lead magnet. It did not do any better than a different lead magnet I wrote in two days. Ugh. Spend no more than a week creating your lead magnet. Don’t get sucked into making it into a massive, month-long project. Give yourself at most a week, and just knock out that lead magnet in a week (or better, in 2-3 days). It doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to get done. This also definitely applies to those of you who have a lead magnet, but aren’t getting the conversions you want. If your opt-in rate for your site is less than 5% (and you’re using a pop-up, aka a “lightbox”), then it’s time to test a different lead magnet, or to try adding one or two content related lead magnets, as mentioned above. Anything less than a 5% opt-in rate on your site means you either need a better lead magnet, or you haven’t added opt-in boxes in the right places.
The best lead magnets deliver value
Follow the value. That’s often what makes for a high-converting lead magnet. What can you show, teach or give to your potential subscribers that will give them unbelievable value – an piece of information or something else so good they will rush to finish typing in their email address? That’s a winning lead magnet.
Don’t promise something general like “How to Make More Money”. That’s not specific enough to make someone’s heart skip a beat. But “5 Ways to Make $500 This Weekend With No Upfront Costs”? That’s specific enough to stop people in their tracks. The #1 place to be specific is in the headline of your lead magnet. Don’t buzz by this: Spend at least 15 or 20 minutes writing several different headlines. Then go with the one that is the most specific and the most emotionally compelling. To get a score on how emotionally compelling your title is, try the Emotional Marketing Headline Analyzer.
Optimize your opt-in button copy
You want something better than just “Subscribe” on your button. The copy on the button is called a “call to action”, and it’s super important. Get the button copy right, and you could see twice as many subscribers than if you just use “Subscribe”. Ideally, you would test the button copy, but if you’ve got less than 2,000 unique visitors to your site a month, you may not have enough traffic to test. The next best thing is to just give the button copy your very best shot. You can try the classic copywriting trick of repeating the headline copy on the button; this can work very well. Or you can shorten it a bit and have the button say something like “Download the report” or “View the video” or “Get tickets”. Basically, the construction here is verb (“view”, “download”, “get”, etc) plus the short name for your lead magnet (your “report”, your “video”, your “course”, etc). That’s a great start until you can get enough traffic to run an A/B test.
Which format will they love?
Now that you know enough to be dangerous, here are 19 different lead magnet formats. You don’t have to pick just one (because it’s good to have more than one lead magnet, remember?), but do pick the format you think your ideal audience will like best. Some audiences are words, some like videos. Others tend to want to printable cheat sheets and checklists. Hopefully, your research has given you some clues about what formats your audience will respond to.
19 different kinds of lead magnets
1) A video course that can be accessed all at once.
2) A video course delivered via autoresponder, say for 10 days.
3) An infographic so useful they’ll want to tape it to their refrigerator or their office wall.
4) A calendar (like a gardening to do list calendar).
5) A gear list.
This one is great for affiliates. If your niche is almost entirely online (like SEO services, for example), your lead magnet “gear list” could be an “essential tools” list that includes plugins and other online tools. Resource lists are similar to this, but work better in some niches. For example, a resource list of your favorite freelancers or Fiverr gigs. Buyer’s guides are another twist on this type of lead magnet.
6) A checklist for how to do something that needs to be done more than once, or that seems complicated. Cheat sheets are also very popular, as are flow charts or process charts.
7) A how-to ebook in PDF format (this is the classic lead magnet. I’m sure you’ve seen them online). If you offer something like this, make it more valueable than a blog post, even a really, really great blog post. Offer something just barely good enough to believe, like how to do something everyone in your niche wants to do, but how to do it for less than half as much money as they think it will cost, or how to do it in less than half as much time.
8) A half hour consultation with you. This one is excellent for coaches.
9) A coupon (if you’re a retailer or a local business, this is for you). Coupons can be for 10% off, for free shipping, for a free cup of coffee… you get the idea.
10) Free tickets to a special event (best for local businesses).
11) Free samples. This isn’t for everyone, but if you can affordably ship a small sample to people, (like a guest soap bar, or a packet of seeds, or golf ball tees), this can be a great way to get people’s email address AND their mailing address.
12) Give access to a free membership site, or to a private Facebook group.
13) Have a quiz or poll on your site. Only give people access to the answers or the results if they give you their email address.
14) Offer a free trial. This one’s for all you software as a service folks.
15) Offer a giveaway or let people enter a contest or sweepstakes.
16) Offer access to a webinar, or a recorded webinar or workshop (or any other audio file).
17) Create an online tool, and require email registration to use it. Online assessments can also qualify as free tools.
18) Create a plugin and require an email to download or install it.
19) Offer a “swipe file” – a collection of templates that people can tailor to their own use. For example, an email marketing swipe file, a query letter swipe file, or an affiliate’s advertising swipe file. Swipe files were traditionally kept by copywriters, so they could keep track of what competitors were doing, and save samples of great ideas to reuse later.
This isn’t for everyone, but some marketers have found an elegant way to use their lead magnets as part of their sales funnel. They offer a high value lead magnet that builds a lot of trust in the person who downloads it. Then, after they’ve impressed their prospect with how much they can help them, they offer a low priced product (say, $7) that solves one major problem the lead magnet didn’t address. The promotion for that $7 is embedded at the end of the lead magnet. Then that $7 product leads into a higher priced product, and the prospect continues through the sales funnel, learning and upgrading as they go. Some people also use those $7 products as a way to segment their list. You could, too.