The power of content marketing is undeniable. There are so many advantages to delivering educational content to your target audience on a consistent basis.
You can boost brand awareness, establish yourself as a credible authority, and build brand loyalty. And all this traffic you can generate is awesome, but it’s not valuable if it doesn’t translate to lead generation.
This is a big obstacle for marketers, and that’s hurting big picture results – just 53 percent of B2B marketers achieved generating sales and revenue.
The best way first step you can take to build your contacts list is creating a lead magnet.
What Is a Lead Magnet or Content Offer?
A lead magnet, often referred to as a content offer, is a content asset that you create to entice visitors to provide their contact information in exchange for the offer. It’s often gated behind a form.
This is a cornerstone of inbound marketing. Having an amazing content offer for your company can help you get leads, build trust with your target audience, and keep your brand front and center in the minds of the leads who download it.
Given how important content offers are for your inbound marketing efforts, and how much time, work, and resources go into making them, you need to get them right.
What Makes a Great Lead Magnet?
There are many elements that make up a kickass content offer.
It’s Easy to Consume.
The user experience is important for lead magnets. If it’s text based, it should be easy to read, with large text boxes broken up into smaller sized chunks.
Some lead magnets can be long, like ebooks, whitepapers, or research reports. While they should be comprehensive, you should also find ways to make them as straightforward as possible. Include visuals to break down complex concepts into easy-to-understand content.
It’s Addresses a Specific Pain Point.
If the content offer doesn’t broaden the lead’s knowledge or help them with a specific issue, then it’s just another piece of white noise in an ocean of static. If your content is going to be remembered, it has to provide some kind of education, assistance, or entertainment value.
And that value should center around one distinct area of focus. This should be built around a problem or goal you identified as you created your buyer personas.
It’s Relevant to Your Business and Industry.
This one kind of goes without saying, but you obviously wouldn’t want to create an ebook on human resources as metal manufacturing company. Few visitors would want to read that. And those leads that come in would be useless for your sales team.
You should know exactly what your readers are looking for, and deliver on that.
It Demonstrates Your Value.
How do you feel about a company when they teach you about a specific solution you needed for a long time? How do you perceive them?
You’re probably impressed and will likely remember that company because they helped you. Making a positive impact on a lead’s life piques their interest, enticing them to learn more about what you have to offer. You’re the expert they will come back to.
It’s Immediately Available.
We live in the age of instant gratification. Don’t make your new leads wait for your educational content. Their eager to learn, so let them!
Build your content offer so that it is delivered immediately. Build a simple automated thank you email that expresses your appreciation with the content offer attached.
21 Types of Lead Magnets
It’s important to provide a diverse selection of content offers. There are several different types and formats of lead magnets you should consider adding into your content strategy.
These are perfect for your visitors who want to use them to create something on their own. There are many different templates you can create for your audience, depending on what they’re looking to create.
Perfect for bottom of the funnel, you can offer demos of your products or services. Make it easy for visitors to book a call so your sales team can walk them through your awesome offerings.
If you’re looking for a smaller content offer idea, checklists are the way to go. These are often concise with content and include a visually appealing design to walk users through a specific process.
Another shorter lead magnet, tipsheets simply list insights and other important information. This list is often presented in the form of bullets and a numbered list.
While it takes a considerable amount of time building a structured online course, it can pay off big. You can also host your video course on learning platforms to expand brand awareness to those audiences.
A whitepaper is a long form report built to present a problem and teach a solution. While it takes some time to create, they can be powerful in persuading leads to consider the product or solution you’re selling.
In their simplest form, a kit is just several content assets grouped into one offer. This is a great option if you’re looking to repurpose your content and present it in a new, engaging way.
These are great for continually engaging your new leads. Your email course should aim to teach recipients about a specific topic or solution over the course of several emails you automate to be sent over the course of a specified timeframe (e.g., five email lessons over the course of 10 days).
A guide is a long form tutorial, walking users through step-by-step instructions while providing detailed explanations. Audiences love these because they typically walk them through complex processes to solve a problem.
Arguably the most time consuming lead magnet, interactive tools require a lot of resources but can pay off in a big way. If you create a tool (like an app or calculator) that your audience can actually put to use, you’re going to get a lot of shares and word of mouth driving more leads to your tool.
Similar to templates and guides, workbooks are created for the sake of helping users complete a specific task or project. These often come in the form of editable PDFs, documents, and spreadsheets.
In-person events are great for not just capturing lead information but also for meeting them face to face and starting to build a strong rapport. You could host something as simple as a happy hour or as involved as a seminar, conference, or live workshop.
The world of podcasting continues to grow. While the competition continues to heat up, you can still build a unique, valuable podcast that targets your audience and drives subscriptions.
These are perfect for demonstrating your thought leadership and educating your target audience on specific topics they need help with. Properly promoting your webinar is essential in driving registrations.
Think of these as short pieces of content that users can use when they quickly need to refer to information. Cheat sheet design should be sleek, making the content easy to digest at a glance.
As a long form content offer, ebooks stand out as the most common format. They take a deep dive on a certain topic, giving readers a comprehensive understanding. Great ebooks provide actionable solutions that readers can follow.
While most SlideShares are ungated and open to the public, you can make them a lead generation asset by offering a download option. This gives readers a convenient option to take the slides to read at their own pace and on their own timeline, and it gives you a chance to add another contact to your database. Win win.
Speaking of winning, who doesn’t love competing to take home a prize from a contest? You can host these on your site or on social, which is excellent for driving traffic, raising brand awareness, and, you guessed it, converting leads.
Original Research Report
Every industry needs research, so why not be the leading voice in your space? Find ways to conduct research, like surveys or trends analysis, and present it to your audience as a gated resource.
You can offer free trials for your products or services, but make this low risk and easy for your audience. Add a simple form to gather their contact information, and don’t ask for credit card info.
Another popular and obvious choice, your email newsletter is a great channel for you to continuously engage your leads. Make sure you’re highlighting the value they will get from you. Otherwise, they’re not going to want to clutter their inbox.
9 Steps to Creating Your Content Offer
Now you're ready to get started on building an effective lead magnet. Follow these simple steps.
1. Do Your Homework.
One of the most basic steps to create a great offer is to do your homework. Get to know who your best customers are, learn their pain points, and what they’re looking for when they come to you.
This is going to take some dedicated buyer persona research. A buyer persona is a kind of profile you assemble about your most profitable customers — who they are, what they do, and where they go to gather information.
Having this information is immensely useful for optimizing content for a specific persona so it will have a bigger impact.
2. Audit Your Existing Content.
Odds are that you already have a content offer or two somewhere on your website. Take a few minutes to go over the existing content on your site and answer some questions.
- What kind of content offers do you already have?
- What personas do they target?
- Could they be written better?
- Is the information inside still current and accurate?
- Which blogs get the most views and engagement?
Getting the answers to these questions can help you establish what kinds of content you need to fill the gaps in your website’s content catalog.
3. Pick a Topic Based on Your Research.
Now that you have some data on your audience and the content you already have, pick a topic for your content offer.
Try to focus on topics that are relevant to some major pain point or are focused on a particular stage of the sales funnel that you don’t already have content for.
4. Recruit a Kickass Team.
Even if you plan on doing most of the writing for the new content offer yourself, be sure to enlist a little help. Recruit a team of content creators to support your efforts.
Good recruits include:
- Any experts you have on the subject you’re writing about
- Writing and communications specialists
- People who work with your customers on a daily basis (customer support staff, sales, etc.)
Experts on the subject and any staff you have who interact with your customers on a daily basis can provide invaluable insights into the topic and your audience. Writing specialists (both inside your company and freelance writers and editors) can help you structure your content and point out key improvements you could make.
Depending on the scope of your lead magnet, you likely don’t need a ton of people helping you out — just one or two extra pairs of eyes can be more than enough.
5. Start Creating It.
Now, with all your resources at the ready, it's time to start creating your offer. Start by outlining the content. This outline might look different for certain formats.
For example, a video course will include scripts and storyboards, and an ebook will include outlined chapters.
Once you're done outlining, start creating the first draft of your content. If you’re having someone else create the content, be sure to supply them with resources to guide the content. Write notes about the important points to include, useful research links, and other resources to improve the overall quality of the offer.
6. Get to Editing.
Once you’re done creating the offer, put it through an editing process.
If you wrote the offer yourself, have your content creation team give it a read so they can point out any major changes it needs. If you had colleagues or freelancers create it, give it a read yourself, then have the rest of your team make their suggestions.
Having someone who didn’t write the content offer review it is important — it’s often hard to spot mistakes or missed opportunities in the work you’ve already put so much time and effort into.
7. Polish It Up With Great Design.
After the content is created and edited for the offer, start designing it. Many companies hand this task to an outside agency or contractor if they don’t have an in-house designer.
When the design is finished, review it and make sure that there are no major errors or omissions from the design process. You’d be surprised how often a paragraph mistakenly gets deleted or repeated in a content offer’s design.
8. Plug Your Offer Into a Campaign.
It’s not enough to just write and design an offer — you need to create a landing page, call-to-action (CTA), and a full campaign to help promote that offer so people can find it on your website.
Write blog posts and promo emails related to the content offer. Then, put a CTA linked to the offer’s landing page in each related post or email. This helps guide website visitors and existing leads to the offer so they can engage with it (and, by extension, your brand).
9. Connect with Your New Leads and Stay Engaged.
It’s important to have a content offer for each of your buyer personas at each phase of the buyer’s journey, from awareness, to research, comparison, and decision. Once your offer’s out there, repeat the content creation process until you’ve built a full library of lead magnets.
Of course, be sure to give yourself and your team the occasional break from creating content to focus on other things, like reaching out to your existing leads and conducting nurturing campaigns.
The Content Offer Planning Worksheet
Need some guidance on creating impactful lead magnets? This worksheet will help you plan your campaign and brainstorm amazing content offer ideas.
Now that you know the types of lead magnets, the steps it takes to ideate and create one, and you have a worksheet, you're ready to build a successful lead generation campaign around an amazing content offer.