Lead Magnets (A Complete Guide)
September 29, 2023
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E-mail is king, but unless you have a brand that is instantly recognizable, you'll have a hard time getting people to sign up without an incentive. That’s why you’ll need a killer lead magnet.
But what is a lead magnet? Just as the name describes, a lead magnet is something that attracts leads to your email list, like a magnet. People don’t just give up their contact information for no reason, so you’ll have to offer them something amazing in return.
Creating a killer lead magnet will take quite a bit of market research and testing before you get it right, but it also requires some technical knowledge to know how to physically create it and distribute it to your audience. Once you have them on your list though, you’ll have an ideal customer you can target directly with your goods and services.
Below is the ultimate guide to creating the most killer, most clickable lead magnets for your brand. We’ve scoured the web to come up with some of the best examples and find some of the best practices, so no matter your experience level, you’re guaranteed to find something valuable in this guide.
What is a Lead Magnet?
As stated above, a lead magnet is simply something you give up in exchange for a customer's contact information. In most cases, that contact information will be an email address and usually a first name, but it could also extend to telephone numbers (for text messages) or physical mailing information for direct mailing purposes.
A "lead" is a prospective customer that you think would be a perfect target for your good or service, and one that you can advertise to in the future via paid ads or an ongoing email campaign. A lead magnet, then, attracts that lead to your business. These are mostly set-it-and-forget-it type deliverables that you only need to create once, but most businesses have at least a few depending on the type of outreach.
The type of deliverable is also determined by the customer themselves. For some industries, a webinar replay works great, especially if it's a how-to on a certain technique. Many authors, in contrast, will choose to give a sample of their book for free – or, in some cases, the entire first book of the series — to attract the reader to buy the rest of their books and continue the story.
One of the most common forms of a lead magnet, and one that is used by virtually every industry in some form or fashion, is a PDF download. These could come in the form of a blog post that you want to save for offline reading later, or a transcript of a favorite podcast. In exchange for the hard copy that you can then use on your own, many websites will require you to give up your email address in exchange.
Finally, another common lead magnet primarily used by e-commerce and brick-and-mortar businesses is a discount code. By entering your contact information, you could receive 10 to 20% off, for example. Some businesses have taken this idea up a notch by making it a game. Users will "spin the wheel" to take their chances for different financial incentives. As you would expect, these usually have a higher conversion rate.
Why are Lead Magnets So Important?
Most marketers abide by the principle of "temperature-based" attraction. When a contact is cold" toward you, that means that they have virtually no awareness of who you are, whereas a "warm" or "hot" lead will be much more familiar with you and possibly even ready to buy.
Lead magnets help to bridge the gap between these points of contact. Initially, someone may be completely oblivious to your brand, but they'll take a chance on something that is either free or extremely low cost as a form of introduction to who you are and what services or goods you provide. These lead magnets usually have a CTA at the end that prompts them to make the next step in the customer journey, but also fosters a sense of familiarity between you and your potential lead.
Even if the customer doesn't buy immediately, having a solid lead magnet helps to build authority within your own niche. Giving the potential customer something that they can learn from and trust will incentivize them to come back to you when they are actually ready to buy. And, along the way, they'll receive emails from you that will continue to build the relationship between brand and customer.
What Makes a Killer Lead Magnet?
It should go without saying, but the better your lead magnet is, the higher the chances are that somebody will give you their contact information in order to receive it. A low-quality lead magnet is virtually worthless, but something that provides true value — such as a book or series of professionally done videos — will be downloaded at a much higher rate.
That being said, what goes into making an awesome lead magnet? Though this can change from industry to industry, there are a few commonalities that are worth noting.
Perhaps the number one quality the lead magnet has to have is that it's actionable. If people can’t build on the information that they receive in your lead magnet and put it into practice, they'll see very little use for it in their life. Even if they do eventually download it, they won't consume the information because they don't see its relevance.
Having an actionable lead magnet isn't that difficult; in fact, most creative assets that you already have can be adjusted slightly to create something that it is usable. For instance, if you're a plumber, you may choose to take your series of blog articles that talk about the different types of pedestal sinks you can buy, and put them into a short e-book entitled "How to Choose the Right Sink for Your Bathroom Remodel." The actionable item is right there in the title, and should entice anyone who is thinking about remodeling their bathroom to click and download.
By and large, people don't want to consume tons and tons of free content. There's something about the way that the human brain is wired that makes us prefer things that we pay for as opposed to things that we simply received for free, even if they’re roughly the same. This increase in perceived value means that your lead magnet needs to be easily digestible by most consumers before they lose interest.
This doesn't always translate to something that is short. Something that is concise still needs to be relatively informative, but it also should be hyper-specific to addressing a certain problem. Nearly every HVAC company has industry knowledge across a variety of niches, for example, but what can your HVAC company teach that is specific to who you are? Is your specialty water heaters? Does your crew have vast experience in new construction? If so, create a lead magnet that reflects that.
Solves a Problem
All goods and services exist to solve a specific problem, to some extent. Interior designers help people know what not only looks good, but also functions well inside of a space. Without their service, most of us wouldn’t know where to start when designing a space.
By the same token, your lead magnet needs to solve a problem as well. Resist the urge to create a generic lead magnet that speaks in generalities; instead, make it laser-focused on a specific issue. We associate specificity with authority, and if your audience has never seen this specific question addressed, then there's a good chance that they’ll click and download your lead magnet simply to expand their knowledge base.
It also is good for SEO purposes. A landing page that addresses a specific problem will most likely rank in search results for those keywords, which helps derive passive traffic without you having to pay for it.
Despite the fact that a lead magnet should be concise and specific, it also needs to be very simple. One of the most important things that you can do when delivering information to your customers is to give them quick wins. The more they see the information that they're putting into practice reap the rewards in everyday life, the more likely they will be to keep coming back to it over and over again.
For that reason, simplicity should be one of the primary goals of your lead magnet. If you want to address a large problem, such as replacing your roof, break it down into quick simple steps and deliver lead magnets around some of the smaller parts, such as "How to Determine if You Need a New Roof." Follow-up emails can use deliverables that are catered around selecting a contractor or determining the right type of material, but delivering that initial quick win will ensure that they see you as the authority figure as soon as possible.
How Do I Actually Create a Lead Magnet?
Most people are under the assumption that you have to spend a lot of time in researching and creating the ideal lead magnet for your audience, but the truth is, you most likely have all the information you need to develop your own without even knowing it. If you have old Facebook Live sessions that you can rip and deliver as a video series, or a series of blog articles that address a specific issue, you can repackage them and create a lead magnet with minimal effort.
Beyond that though, you'll need a few other items in order to make sure that your lead magnet is easily accessible.
Most marketers have their own email service that they prefer, such as Mailerlite, ConvertKit, or ActiveCampaign. Whatever you choose, make sure they have the opportunity to use automation sequences, that way you can nurture those leads once they're officially in your marketing pipeline.
An automation sequence will also help you to deliver your lead magnet immediately. Once the person fills out the form on your ad or landing page, that email address is transferred directly to your email service for the automation sequence to start.
If you use a landing page to collect leads, then you most likely won't need any form of integration, as the landing page itself will link directly back to your email service. If you rent paid advertising campaigns, such as those on Facebook or YouTube, then you’ll probably need some kind of integration software that will send the leads from the forms directly to your mail service. These usually cost money, but they are imperative to making sure that the deliverable arrives on time.
These days, most people expect whatever they sign up for to be in their mailbox within a few seconds; failure to do so may mean they forget about you completely. Although some people would argue that integration services are not completely necessary, most marketers maintain that not having them can diminish the value of those leads.
The type of format that you use for your deliverable will determine what kind of hosting you need for it. I'm not talking about hosting in the form of a website, but rather a platform that they can download and consume your material from directly. If you have videos, dropbox is a good option, as is a private YouTube channel, whereas Google Docs are also very popular option for PDF deliverables.
Some hosting platforms may require a file conversion to take place. A Kindle book, for instance, may not appear very well inside of a smart phone (unless they have an application for it), so an external service that can host a single page where the person can choose the format that's right for them may also be necessary. The only way to determine whether or not this is the case is to put yourself in the shoes of your customer and determine what format would work best for them.
Once you know what you want your deliverable to be, it's up to you to create it. Websites like Canva.com are fantastic at creating visual assets, such as e-book covers or infographics. Piktochart is another great option, but there are many to choose from as you try to figure out how to develop the deliverable itself.
If your lead magnet consists of an audio or video file, you'll also need to have a microphone or video editing software to create it as well. One popular lead magnet is a slideshow presentation with audio backing track where the speaker walks you through a specific presentation. If that's the case, you'll need to have not only the screen recording software to record the PowerPoint, but the ability to add edited audio into the file itself.
What Happens After They Get the Lead Magnet?
Once the customer has received the lead magnet, how they react completely determines on a few things. First, it depends on whether or not they actually read the deliverable. A large contingent of the population simply downloads free things from all corners of the Internet and very rarely actually consumes them. If that's the case with you and your customers, then you may have to chalk that up to a lost lead, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t get any real leads whatsoever.
Second, the quality of the deliverable also matters. Resist the urge to slap together something just to have it out there; instead, take the time to develop something that you personally would want to receive and learn from. Imagine yourself as your audience at the beginning of their knowledge journey and craft a lead magnet that would help you take that first step. If you can do that, you should get not only loyal fans, but also very happy recipients.
Assuming that your audience loves your content, they'll be in your email list from then on (or until they unsubscribe, at least). But just because they're in your email list doesn't mean that you've optimized the rest of the journey. Below are two rules you should abide by when using lead magnets to grow your email list.
Utilize Automation Sequences
An automation sequence is simply a string of emails that are automatically delivered to a contact once they arrive inside your mailing list. Different email services have different levels of customization for your automation sequences, but your lead magnet should determine which path they take. If your lead magnet is directed towards a cold audience, then a series of introductory type emails is appropriate. If your deliverable is oriented more towards a warm audience, then moving them further along the buying process may be more effective.
One of the most important things you need to remember with automation sequences is to make them personable. People who have downloaded and consumed your lead magnet are expecting a certain level of communication from you, so continue that conversation forward. Would they like to know more? If so, offer them a lead magnet that will take them in a different direction. Are they ready to buy? Give them a form that will allow them to schedule a phone consultation with one of your team members. By doing this, you'll put your lead generation on autopilot.
Segment Your Audience
Despite all these people being on the same email list, no two of them are exactly alike. As mentioned above, some of them will be farther along the customer journey than others, so make sure that you group them appropriately. Furthermore, people may have different intents, such as consuming information or signing up for a free demo. Segmentation will allow you to target these individual consumers depending on their anticipated customer behavior.
This is also where different lead magnets come in handy. Expert marketers don't just have one or two lead magnets available, they usually have several different operating at various points in time, targeting different people on the buying journey. You may have a webinar series for one group of customers and an e-book for completely different one. Don't be afraid to mix and match in order to find the optimal combination for your audience.
How Do I Promote My Lead Magnet?
Once you have your lead magnet firmly in hand and are ready to deliver it to your customers, choosing how to promote it is the last — but arguably the most important — step. Many people utilize paid advertising platforms for this, which is very effective, but you should also try landing pages that are optimized for SEO. Cross promotions with other brands work well, as do online communities.
If you already have an email list or an online community, but are wanting to attract people to a new offer you may have, then address the lead magnet to them. These people are already familiar with your business, but a lead magnet that addresses a certain pain point — and that your offer can assist with — will segment a party your audience that is interested in that specifically. Don't be afraid to utilize your existing audience to make the most efficient use of your assets.
Besides this, there are other, more static ways that you can promote your lead magnet. Have it plastered permanently on the sidebar of your website so that those who visit can fill it out when possible. Furthermore, add a call-to-action at the bottom of your blog posts that will give them a quick and easy way to add themselves to your mailing list. Social media posts work well, as do guest posts and forms inside your existing email newsletters.
There’s virtually no wrong way to utilize lead magnets in your business, provided that you’re helping to solve actual problems that your audience is struggling with. And, as with everything else marketing related, test, test, and test again. Only by experimenting with various deliverables can you hit on a winning combination that will net you the results you want.
About THE AUTHOR
After working for multiple digital advertising agencies and managing hundreds of client accounts and spending millions of dollars via Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Native Ads and Direct Media Buying, I took things out on my own and started SparrowBoost. Now, my tight-knit team and I continue to get smarter and more efficient at running our own campaigns and we share our knowledge with you.Learn more about SparrowBoost