8 Ways to Step Up Your Lead Magnet Strategy

Small business owners who are new to online marketing typically don’t know how to put together quality lead magnet materials. And that’s a real shame, because lead magnets provide opportunities to market to the same lead multiple times, increase the amount of time leads engage with your website and content, and increase the likelihood they’ll take action.

Lead magnets not only have the power to convert a cold lead to a warm lead, but can even help accelerate the speed in which you build an audience. If you don’t already have one, you’re missing out on all of these benefits, and the trajectory of your business’s online marketing success is certainly hampered.

Today I’ll help provide some ideas for lead magnets that aren’t obvious to a small business owner.

But first, be aware that a lead magnet is essentially a promotional tool that a prospective lead can claim, and its almost always free. In exchange for the free item, the lead is required to take some simple action, such as inputting his or her email address or creating a free trial account.

And since most people value their email address (and don't want a bunch of spam), it's on you to both convince them you aren't a spammer, and to provide HUGE value to the person willing to hand that information over to you.

It sounds simple, but you could really make or break getting a new lead by simply not fulfilling the promise you mention on your site in your call to action.

1. Free Access to Gated Content

Gated content is basically content that isn’t available to the general public, and has a feeling of exclusivity surrounding it.

For instance, if you published free training videos in your niche or industry, you could lock a handful of them, making them inaccessible to people who haven’t taken action. You can then exchange that gated content for email addresses. This boosts your list building endeavors, and allows you to reach out to that lead multiple times.

But realize that you don’t necessarily have to exchange gated content for email addresses. Instead, you could make the content accessible after the lead performs some other beneficial action that helps attract more leads, such as liking and sharing your content on social media.

We do this with our free Facebook Group, Marketing Upstream. Members of that group get special access to training that the 'regular world' doesn't get. Signing up is free, and anyone can join, but making the content specific to group members creates exclusivity, and at the same time helps us build our brand by being the facilitators of great content and training.

You've already joined, right?

2. A Twist on the Classic Free Newsletter

"Want to receive my newsletter? Just give me your name and email and I promise not to spam you."

Remember websites that did that? Ok, have you seen websites that still do that today?

Listen, no one wants your newsletter. No one wants to sign up to be sold to. No one wants to get more sales pitches from your business nor anyone else's.

Heck, even the word newsletter has a bad ring to it - here's more news about us!

No one cares.

While access to a free newsletter is a pretty cut and dry form of lead magnet, hawking it as a valid lead magnet (in the form of please subscribe) is a pretty useless  strategy nowadays.

Now, don't get the wrong idea. There's a big advantage to having a list of people that have volunteered to hear from your business regularly. The problem, in most cases, is in the delivery. Instead of a weekly or monthly 'about us update' with all the great things your business is doing and about, it needs to purely be a delivery mechanism for value to your list.

I mentioned this before - value. It's critical to your success, especially with lead magnets.

This change could be as simple as adding a portion of a past blog post to each newsletter, with a link back to your site for them to read the full article (that's what we do). It could even be a few of those.

But it can't be mostly about you. Here's an example of a newsletter with value in it

One last time: If you’re going to go the newsletter route, you need to make sure you’re producing something of genuine value that your audience will appreciate. Whether it’s focused on industry news, providing insight through personal experience, or teaching them a new skill, you really need to water down the sales pitches.

3. Offer Free Trials

Digital services and subscription-based businesses can offer free trials as lead magnets as well. After all, everybody loves the word free.

I would caution you, however, to make sure to follow two key points with regards to the terms of a free trial. First of all, make sure the free trial cannot be easily renewed under a different username or alias unless it’s intended to be an indefinite free trial.

For instance, you could limit it to one free trial period per email address (yes, some people will simply create new email addresses, but it’s amazing how even a little bit of resistance can act as a deterrent). Secondly, it’s typically better to not require payment card data if you want to appear trustworthy, because most everyone has been automatically billed for something they didn’t want at one time or another.

Since we're talking a lot about value in this post, I'd be remiss not to also talk about offering something like a $1 or $7 trial. In fact, here's a quick story about something similar: a meetup group.

Long ago, my friend (and marketing genius) Russ Henneberry had a free meetup here in town. He'd get 40-50 people to sign up, but on the day of the event he had about 20 people actually show up.  When I started my meetup, I took a cue from that and put a $10 fee on attending. This did two things: it blew up my show-up rate to around 92%, and it caused a psychological affect on my attendees - they were more likely to show up, and they left thinking that was the best $10 they ever spent. This made it a lot easier for me to get new customers, because they already equated my business to great value.

Free is great, but you may be attracting the wrong crowd by doing so. Offering a paid trial may end up serving you better.

4. Samples

Who doesn’t love saving money or getting something for free? Running a promotion or a free giveaway is as powerful a magnet as a flame is to a moth.

Groupon uses this concept to help grow businesses. Consumers can get free or drastically reduced tours, rentals, whatever, by going through their system. This introduces new customers to your business, and helps you grow your exposure. Just be careful with what you give away, as it can be a big loss leader.

Free giveaways (just put in your email address to enter) are a double-edged sword. You may grow your list, but are these people really interested in your product or service, or do they just want to win your silly hockey tickets?

Give away an iPad and you'll build a big list of people that want to win iPads, not people that are interested in your products or services (well, unless you're Apple!).

Giveaways can be a great way to energize your current list of past customers, though. Reaching out to that already-warm list with a reason to reengage with your brand is an easy win. Tie the giveaway to a purchase, and you'll probably do really well. For instance, "get a free x when you buy another y."

5. Coupons & Promo Codes

Coupons are another great lead magnet. Hide them behind an optin form, (we like OptinMonster for this), and you'll have a focused and engaged group of new hands raised to learn more about your business.

If you have a retail location, coupons are a great way to track offline sales, too. Maybe someone sees your info, website, or Facebook post online, but wants to come in and see your products in person. A coupon is a great way to know that your online promotion is working.

Promo codes are nearly the same thing, but typically live only online. I'll be honest, any time I'm purchasing something and I see a box to enter a promo code, I usually do a "service promo code" search right away. If they're asking me for a promo code, it's a good indicator that one exists somewhere online.

You can always put both of these in a simple popup on your site, and just be out front with it, like Lyft does.

Justt be careful and don’t go overboard – you don’t want to give away the farm. Try to strike a balance between offering something that isn’t so valuable that you’re going to lose money, but still offers something your audience wants.

6. Puzzles, Brain Teasers, and Quizzes

Puzzles and quizzes, surprisingly, are actually one of my personal favorite lead magnets with which to interact. Some sites offer IQ tests for those who like a challenge, while other people just like good old fashioned puzzles.

For instance, I’m sure you’ve seen math problems on Facebook that require a user to employ deductive reasoning, because instead of numbers, the math riddle uses fruit or some other theme. Not only can these types of riddles and quizzes be used to drive traffic from Facebook, they can also be used to garner email addresses to aid list building.

7. Textual Content, Checklists, and Ebooks

Written content not only makes for good content marketing, but it also works well as a lead magnet. Checklists and ebooks are valued because they help guide the user towards their goal for free, and are effective teaching mediums.

If there’s something you think your audience needs to know about your niche or industry, try to put together teaching materials in a format that is easy to download and digest, such as a .epub ebook or a PDF file.

One word about ebooks - there is an inherent flaw with offering them in some cases - the fact that it's going to require a commitment from the visitors to not only download the ebook, but also to actually read it. This means that just by seeing the offer for an ebook, you're asking them to commit to a chunk of their time, and this may actually deter them from filling out your form to receive it.  I'd recommend testing this against a one or two-page quick-hit list of things they need to do instead.

We do this with our Digital Marketing Checklist, and we also offer a 39-page SEO ebook. The checklist outperforms the ebook 30/1 easily.

8. Calculators

In olden days, students would as math teachers why they needed to learn math in the first place. The math teacher’s response was invariably, “Because you won’t always have a calculator in your pocket!” An amusing anecdote considering every smartphone comes equipped with a standard calculator.

However, specialty calculators, ones which employ formulas unknown to the layman, can be effective lead magnets too.

For instance, a weight loss calculator that helps determine calories burned in a workout session, or a financial calculator that helps someone determine the present value of an annuity, can help garner emails in specialized niches. I can't imagine a real estate site without a payment calculator, nor a loan site without the same.

You Need a Lead Magnet

If you don’t have a lead magnet for your site, I urge you to consider developing or buying something you can use as a lead magnet, because list-building is a core component of any modern digital marketing campaign.

Here are a few examples of lead magnets we have in place.

You'll notice two things about these examples. First, they are all running on ClickFunnels, and secondly they all have an automation system behind them that subscribes you to our newsletter, follows up with you, and teaches you additional things about that topic. With these things in place, keeping someone subscribed is pretty easy.

About the Author:

Will Hanke owns Saint Louis' top independent Internet Marketing firm, Red Canoe Media. In addition to helping some of St Louis' most recognizable brands with their online marketing strategy, Will also is an Amazon bestselling author, speaker and teacher.

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