One of the most valuable assets of your business is your email list. Yes, you have a lot more going for you; however, this little nugget is the gift that keeps on giving: You get to promote your brand, build long-term relationships with your contacts, and provide a more personalized experience.
However, it can be challenging coming up with good ways to grow that list. That’s why lead magnets are so helpful. But how do you create one? What’s the best way to go about them? And what’s the best way to distribute them?
A lead magnet — also known as a content offer — is something you provide to website visitors in exchange for their email address. This can take the form of a discount from your first purchase or gated content (such as an eBook or any of the additional examples explained in detail below).
This is a cornerstone of inbound marketing. Offering a valuable content offer 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 lead magnets are for your inbound marketing efforts — and how much time, work, and resources go into making them — you need to get them right.
There are several benefits that exist right off the bat when you produce a quality lead magnet.
Leads See You’re Offering Value
One of the easiest ways to be off-putting is to come across as a pushy salesperson. By offering a quality content offer, you’re letting your leads know that you’re also interested in providing them with helpful, useful information. Regardless of where they are in their buyer’s journey (and whether they end up making a purchase from you in the future), you are striving to resolve some of their pain points.
You Establish Yourself as an Industry Expert
Anyone with the budget to pay for a copywriter can put forth an ad. But it takes a bona fide industry expert to draft long-form content. Even if you’re paying someone else to write it for you, you’re still in control of the finished product. You use your background, education, and experience to expand on each topic. You explain esoteric concepts, and go into detail about nuances and challenges they may be facing. As such, you’re letting your audience know that you’re well qualified and know what you’re talking about.
They’re Accessible to Everyone
Not everyone has the budget at the moment to hire an industry expert. Maybe they will in the future. Or maybe they are not the decision-makers within their company and are gathering information to get ultimate approval. And all they have to do is provide their email address in exchange for your valuable content offer. No need to jump through hurdles or figure out how to pay for it.
They Build Brand Awareness
Going through the sales funnel can be a lengthy process. Your buyer personas first discover they have certain challenges. They then start conducting research, comparing products and services, and figuring out the best solution. By providing high-quality content offers, you are more likely to stay top-of-mind when it’s time for them to make a purchasing decision.
You Build Your Email List
You’re providing a content offer in exchange for email addresses precisely because you want to grow your email list. While on its face, this may seem like having an ulterior motive (which, yes, you do have one), all parties are actually benefiting from the exchange. At the end of the day, website visitors who sign up for your content offer are seeking the information you’re providing, so it’s a win-win way to build that list.
There are several elements that work together to make your content offer stand out among the competition.
It’s Easy to Consume
A good user experience is crucial for effective 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 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. 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 Industry
This one kind of goes without saying, but you obviously wouldn’t want to create an ebook on human resources for a metal manufacturing company. Few visitors would want to read that. And those leads that do sign up for it would be useless for your sales team anyway.
You should know exactly what your readers are looking for, and deliver on that.
It Provides 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. They're eager to learn, so let them!
Create your content offer so that it is delivered immediately. And draft a simple automated thank you email that expresses your appreciation with the content offer attached.
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.
Templates are perfect for website visitors who want to create something on their own, but aren’t sure how to get started. There are many different templates you can create for your audience, depending on what they’re looking to create.
Demos are perfect for bottom of the funnel leads, since you can offer them to showcase your products or services. Make it easy for visitors to book a call so your sales team can walk them through them.
If you’re looking for a smaller content offer idea, checklists are the way to go. These are often concise and include a visually appealing design to walk users through a specific process.
4. Tip Sheets
Another shorter lead magnet, tipsheets simply list insights and other important information that may otherwise escape the reader’s radar. This list is often presented in the form of bullets and a numbered list.
5. Video Courses
While it takes a considerable amount of time to build a structured online course, it can pay off significantly. You can also host your video course on learning platforms to expand brand awareness to those audiences.
6. White Papers
A white paper is a long-form report created to present a problem and teach a detailed solution. While it takes some time to create, they can be powerful in persuading leads to consider the product you’re selling.
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.
8. Email Courses
Email courses are great for continually engaging your new leads. They should aim to teach recipients about a specific topic or solution in a span of several automated emails. These should be scheduled to be sent over a specified timeframe (e.g., five email lessons over the course of 10 days).
9. How To Guides
A guide is a long-form tutorial, walking users through step-by-step instructions while providing detailed explanations. Audiences love these because they typically make complex processes a lot easier to follow.
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 a lot of additional leads through word of mouth.
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 is a popular medium that continues to grow. While competition is fierce, you can still build a unique, valuable podcast that targets your audience and drives subscriptions — especially if you serve a niche or have an engaging or funny personality.
Webinars are perfect for demonstrating your thought leadership and educating your target audience on specific topics. Do keep in mind that you’ll also have to dedicate some resources to promoting the webinar to drive registrations. You can do this through social media shares and PPC ads.
15. Cheat Sheets
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 formats. 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 making them downloadable. 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 media channels, which is excellent for driving traffic, raising brand awareness, and converting leads.
19. Original Research Report
Every single industry needs to rely on thoroughly researched, comprehensive sources, 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 content offer.
20. Free Trials
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 choice, your email newsletter is a great channel for you to continuously engage your leads and keep them informed about your business and industry. Make sure you’re highlighting the value they will get from you. Otherwise, they’re not going to want to clutter their inbox.
The benefits of quizzes are twofold: People love to talk about themselves. Whether they’re proud of what they’ve built or they have unique circumstances, quizzes give them the options to tell you exactly what they need. By the same token, you can gather this data to better provide them with personalized content.
Assessments require taking a lot more detailed information than quizzes. While the latter can provide simple multiple choice answers, assessments give leads more ample space to provide their answers. They are usually completed by website visitors who have a stronger intent to make a purchase, since they require a longer time to fill out.
This is not really a content offer, but it’s still an effective way to get people to sign up for your email list. Make sure the coupon code arrives in their mailbox promptly — and please, test it to make sure that it works prior to including it your automated emails.
Now that you're ready to get started on building an effective lead magnet, you can follow these simple steps:
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 semi-fictional profile you assemble about your most profitable customers — who they are, what they do, where they go to gather information, and their preferred method of consuming content.
Having this information is immensely useful for optimizing content for a specific persona so it will have a bigger impact.
Audit Your Existing Content
Odds are that you already have a content offer or two somewhere on your website. Take some time to go over each webpage and answer some questions.
- What kind of content do you have? (Blogs, infographics, guides, video tutorials, etc…)
- What personas do they target?
- Could they be written better, updated, or repurposed?
- 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.
Work With a Team of Experts
These individuals could be from your own company, colleagues, business partners, or someone with whom you could collaborate. Two minds are better than one. Three offer additional perspectives. You could each be responsible for crafting content for different topics, or you could do a panel or interview format to craft your content offer.
Draft the Content First, Edit Later
It’s tempting to go over what you’ve already written several times to see how it’s coming along. This is death. All it will cause are delays and frustrations as you keep getting stuck over and over again. Done is better than perfect. In fact, perfect doesn’t even exist. Create your outline, expand on it, and once you’re done, go ahead and do a round or two of edits.
Polish It With a Great Design
Even if your content is extraordinary, it has to look appealing to your target audience. Get a good graphic designer, illustrator, art director, or whichever visual creative you need to make the content offer as enticing as possible. Elements that come into play include an easy-to-read format, using brand colors, and including videos and content where needed.
Even the best designs may leave you wondering if it was the best possible version of your work. So test several iterations to see which ones perform best. Keep in mind, however, to only test one element at a time, so that you can know for sure what it is that’s causing the improvement. For example, don’t change the format, and the fonts, and the colors all at the same time.
Plug Your Offer Into a Campaign
Including your content offer into a campaign is the best way to promote it. Have your design team create nice calls to action buttons and include it everywhere that’s relevant: at the end of blogs, in your marketing emails, on social media posts, banners, PPC ads, etc… Make them all cohesive so that readers can immediately recognize them as part of an ongoing campaign.
Connect With Your Leads and Stay Engaged
When you create your campaign assets, also craft content for thank you and follow up emails. You can then automate them to deploy whenever they’re applicable. The follow up messages can include reminders, as well as questions regarding additional topics they’d like to receive in the future and feedback about the content offer they just consumed. You can also craft follow up lead nurturing emails with additional tips and tricks relating to the content offer, or suggested readings based on the offer’s topic.
Distributing your lead magnet is the easiest part! Depending on your buyer persona’s preferences (which you will already know based on your research), you can:
On Your Website
You can have a pop-up box requesting website visitors to give you their email address. Once they provide it, the download button is available right there on your website. It’s important to make it downloadable, so that your audience can consume the content at a time when it’s convenient for them.
On a Landing Page
Landing pages are independent web pages that serve only one person: To get the visitor to fill out a form. No navigation bar, no links to drive them away to other pages. Your single goal is to get them to take the action that you want them to take. In this case, it would be to sign up for your lead magnet.
Once the web visitor enters their email address on your online form, a thank you message appears on the screen, instructing them to check their email inbox for their content offer.
If you go with the second option, it’s essential to have a customer relationship management (CRM) software that properly segments your contacts and that lets you automate specific actions based on user behavior.
For example, you want to be able to segment your contacts list so that people who signed up for a free eBook get exactly that content offer, while those who signed up for a webinar get the adequate email confirmation.
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 create one, and a worksheet, you're ready to build a successful lead generation campaign around your content offer. Now, hit it out of the ballpark!