The Must Have Starting Point for Marketing Automation


Hey, Barry here, your anti-expert in marketing automation. I’m learning it with you. Fun, fun, fun.

Seriously, if I yack on about it as if I’m the mighty ninja of marketing automation, you’ll call my bluff and bail. I came clean in an eBook I wrote for GetResponse, A Solopreneur’s Journey Into Marketing Automation.

But you don’t want to miss what I do have to tell you today because it’s the one thing your marketing automation can’t live without.

Lead magnets. Lead generators. Offers. Bribes. Freebies. Gifts. Incentives.

Call it what you want, but call it vital. If you want to do marketing automation, you need to capture email addresses. You don’t need a million or even a thousand. You need some list (or lists) of the email addresses of people who have a challenge you can help solve.

Simple, right? The “opt-in” (modern marketing geek speak for “sign up”) is the starting point for your marketing automation. Otherwise, there’s no marketing, no automation, and no point.

List building and marketing automation go hand-in-hand. Your email and nurturing campaigns are fueled in some cases by a master list, and in many instances, by lists based on specific interests and behaviors.

Now allow me to share my ideas with you about something I do, in fact, know a lot about: how to capture email addresses of your website visitors with lead magnet offers.


Well, hello stranger

Someone new gets to your site. You’d be excited if you were working the property live, but you’re not. So your auto version of excitement is to incite a pop-up or some attention-getting digital proxy clerk that says, “Hello stranger, please give me your email address.”

But they don’t. Why would they?

I compare it to crossing the lease line as you enter a store in the mall and a spunky 16-year old Emily Lou who might have asked, “How can I help you?” Instead she asks, “Who are you and what’s your phone number?” Whoahhhhhh. See you later Emily Lou. You’re creeping me out.

Are you with me on the e-tail/retail metaphor? You need a more gentle approach. You do that by giving something away for free. The clothing store is going to let you try the clothes on. The effective website is going to give you a reason try it on too.

It’s called a lead magnet, which is the subject of this post. Offering lead magnets is a vital part of the formula that builds your email list and, in turn, gives you a chance to subsequently make effective use of marketing automation.


Make a free offer

A lead magnet is a free offer you make in exchange for an email address. It’s not a blank field that reads, “Enter your email address here.” There’s no value proposition there, therefore there’s no magnetism. Magnetism comes from knowing what your prospects want information and advice about.

Here are five ways to uncover what that might be:

  • Search—‑Use Google AdWords Keyword Planner and other keyword research tools to find keyword phrases and topics relevant to your market. If you offer a search feature on your website you can extract data from it to learn what your visitors seek.
  • Share — Gather insights regarding social shares to tap into popular content topics in your niche. Click around on authoritative sites in your field paying attention to the share counters and try using, which estimates share counts across the leading social networks.
  • Google Analytics — Mine your Google Analytics for page views indicating traffic counts and time-on-page to indicate interest levels.
  • Questions sources — Look at websites specifically created to ask and answer questions such as Quora, Yahoo! Answers, com and WiseLike. Similarly, check out relevant forums and groups in your niche.
  • Reviews — Reading reviews at sites such as Amazon, Udemy and iTunes will help you gather insights about your audience’s needs and preferences.




When you enter a question or topic on Quora it returns a list of related questions, which can be very helpful for discovering what potential customers seek advice about. In the example above, I simply entered “lead magnet.”


Create something great

The following five elements will help make your offer magnetic:

  1. Be specific — Tell your audience exactly what they’re going to get being ultra-clear about the benefit of opting in for your free content.
  2. Deliver a desired result — Capture attention with a lead magnet promising to move them closer to a desired result.
  3. Provide instant gratification — Everyone wants shortcuts, the fast track—lessons they can apply immediately. Stress time-savings.
  4. Be the authority — A great lead magnet advances the relationship by increasing trust. Don’t be afraid to give away your very best tips.
  5. Make it worth money — Your offer should be valuable to the point where people would pay for it if asked. Don’t compromise on writing or design.



Shown here are samples of eBooks I’ve created for clients and my business, which I believe qualify for each of the five requirements above.


League-leading lead magnet

Let’s look at a sizable list of ideas for effective lead magnets. It’s a fairly long list, but hardly exhaustive. You can mix n’ match, expand and contract, and simply use your imagination. Here are 25 strong contenders for your first (or next) lead magnet.

  1. eBook
  2. White paper
  3. Video or video series
  4. Research report
  5. Tip sheet
  6. Checklist
  7. Resource guide
  8. Swipe file
  9. Templates
  10. Assessment
  11. Digital tool
  12. Mini-course
  13. Webinar
  14. Presentation
  15. Membership
  16. Infographic
  17. Calendar
  18. Contest
  19. Product demonstration
  20. Free trial
  21. Free sample
  22. Free quote or consultation
  23. Catalog or sales material
  24. Coupon
  25. Email list




Want an even longer list of lead magnet ideas? Click here or the image above for your free cheat sheet.


Sell these things

Your lead magnet might sound good and look good, but it doesn’t sell itself. So now we’ll look at effective ways to showcase your offer and succeed with your email list building efforts.

Landing page — The proven way to capture email leads with a lead magnet is through a landing page, which showcases your free resource. Make your form fast and easy to complete by requesting only the data you need.




The page above has not yet been customized, but is a readymade template from GetResponse designed expressly to publish landing pages to capture email addresses via lead magnet offers.

Pop-ups — Pop-ups are commonplace now and less repulsive to users. They’re offered by a slew of services, paid and free, in a variety of forms with various features. And they work.

Feature box or banner — A feature box is basically a row on your site —generally on the home page. It functions like a pop-up, but it’s a permanent fixture.

Preview page — Another approach gaining momentum is the pre-homepage preview page, which dominates the page and offers a lead magnet and/or subscription.




Membership page — Create a valuable collection of content on a specific topic, promote it all on a single page, and make it available exclusively to those who opt-into a free membership.

Sidebar — Use your marketing automation or email service provider to place a form in the sidebar of your home page, blog or anywhere across your website and showcase a specific lead magnet there as you would on a landing page.

Call to action (CTA) boxes — Place CTA boxes, without forms, on select pages. A click directs the reader to a landing page where they can opt-in.


Videos — Create a free, ungated video and insert an offer within it at the halfway mark or end.

Content upgrades in blogs — Content upgrades capture email addresses from blog readers. Somewhere in your post you offer an additional free asset, which is a bonus of some sort.

Guest blogs — Publish a guest post on a relevant blog and offer one of your lead magnets by including a link to it in your author bio.

Social media — Feature your lead magnets in social media updates or run ads on social media channels.


12 Ways to promote your lead magnets

You need to promote your lead magnets and can do so in a variety of ways. Here’s a healthy list of ideas worth trying and testing.


On your website:

  • Homepage — Your homepage is the traffic center of your site, so add a feature your offer on it.
  • Resource page — When you have multiple lead magnets you can centralize them as a convenience for you audience on a resource page and highlight new ones with top placement.
  • Blog — Direct readers to your lead magnets from your main blog index page as well as each relevant post.




Lead magnets, such as this “10-step guide” are often promoted onsite and in sidebars on key pages.


On social media channels:

  • Cover photo Feature your lead magnet in your Facebook and Twitter cover photos.
  • Updates — Post often using different CTAs and images that link to the landing page of your lead magnet.
  • Social media ads — Experiment with Facebook ads or ads on the social media where your audience spends time.
  • LinkedIn profile — Your LinkedIn profile accommodates a variety of media and it’s an ideal place to promote lead magnets.
  • Pinterest Pin an image and description of your lead magnet on Pinterest.
  • YouTube — Make a quick video about your offer and add it to your YouTube channel.


On other channels too:

  • Email — Announce the availability of new lead magnets by sending email notices to your
  • Webinars — Offer webinars related to your lead magnet or mention them as a bonus for registering.
  • Speaking engagements When you speak or participate in a panel be sure the audience is aware you have a free and valuable bonus for them.


Create a starting point and you’re ready to go

Ground zero for marketing automation is email list building. The proven way to build email lists is to create, publish and promote valuable content in the form of a lead magnet.


Last but not least

Don’t make the mistake of assuming you can collect data from prospects with generic “give me your email” forms. They won’t. Give your prospects a compelling reason to give you their email address and they will. Then, your marketing automation process is a “go.”


Back to you

Please share your thoughts and views in the comment section below. I’d love to know what you think.