Email is still one of the most powerful and valuable assets of any online business. Any blog or business that is trying to market or move products online needs to collect email addresses and nurture their email list.
The first step towards building an email list is offering a sign-up form on your website, where people can submit their email address and subscribe to regular updates, new blog posts, and other content.
But simply offering a signup form will not earn you a large number of subscribers most of the time. You have to be a little bit more creative than that to earn more sign-ups for your email list. And this is where lead magnets come in.
What is a lead magnet?
A lead magnet is something that you offer for free in exchange for an email address. It can be content or information, or even something like access to you and your knowledge.
In other words, it’s something that has value for people in your target audience. In fact, it should be so valuable to your target audience that they will be willing to give you their email address to get access to the lead magnet.
Lead magnets come with many other names, like sign-up offers, content upgrades, freebies and more. But all of them share the same purpose of earning you more email addresses. Furthermore, all of them give you the opportunity to showcase your expertise to your target group and earn their trust by providing something of value to them.
If you want to generate leads online, you need to have a lead magnet. And if you offer a lead magnet, you should always deliver on what it promises – or you will lose the trust of your new subscriber with your first interaction.
How does a lead magnet fit into the sales process?
In short, the classic online sales process goes like this:
- Get traffic
- Generate leads
- Nurture leads
- Turn leads into customers (aka make sales).
In this process, the lead magnet has the purpose of turning a website visitor (traffic) into a lead who is subscribed to your email list. Instead of aiming for selling directly to website visitors, you earn the opportunity to build a relationship with your subscribers, earn their trust – and eventually sell more of your products to the leads that now know you and hopefully trust you.
Image Source: Hubspot
99% of first-time website visitors are not ready to buy. If you don’t get their email address, you’ll have a hard time getting them back to your website later when they might be ready to buy.
However, if you get them on your email list, you will gain multiple opportunities to build a relationship of trust and to sell to them at a later stage.
Of course, you still want to sell to your subscribers. But you can much better prepare them before you make an offer if you have earned the right to send them a couple of emails leading up to it.
What makes for a perfect lead magnet?
The perfect lead magnet will solve a problem that many of the members of your target group have. The more pressing the problem is for your audience, the more people will be willing to give you their email address in return for the chance you can solve their problem.
That also means that you have to be honest regarding the problem that you can solve. Don’t be vague and don’t try to lure some people from your target audience into subscribing by promising something that you cannot deliver. Starting a relationship with your leads with a lie is not going to bring you any closer to selling to them.
A great lead magnet should ideally be something that nobody else also offers. If people from your target audience can find the solution somewhere else, some of them may do so.
Now, let’s take a look at 10 irresistible lead magnet ideas you can use:
1. Exclusive tips and content, or access to a resource library
Instead of a simple sign-up form, some blogs and businesses add the promise of exclusive content to their subscription forms. If you wish to do this, you should be crystal clear about what exactly you are going to send to new subscribers.
This type of lead magnet can be offered as access to a complete resource library. This often works well, particularly if you already have a name or brand that people trust.
Image Source: Melyssa Griffin
2. Data and case studies
Case studies offer great content since they are unique: only you or your company have the data to tell this story.
You can also bring your customers into the picture and let them tell their story of how they solved a problem – ideally, a problem some of your target group also have. This way the case study or customer story becomes highly valuable to potential customers because they can find out how others have already solved their problem.
Instead of providing a ton of information, try providing a checklist of things people should not forget when trying to achieve something.
This is a real chance to let your expertise shine. A checklist promises to guide your audience through an unknown process and ensure they did not miss any important steps.
Image Source: OptinMonster
4. Cheat sheets
A cheat sheet generally provides a shortcut to solving a problem, which is where they got their name. Instead of researching and sorting through information for themselves, your subscribers get a step-by-step process to reach their goal (fast!).
Cheat sheets should promise a quick solution for a specified problem, and be fairly straightforward and easy to comprehend.
Image Source: Smart Blogger
Don’t be intimidated by the term eBook. An eBook can be everything between a couple of pages up to a full-blown book. While content-wise, the difference between a cheat sheet and an eBook can be slightly blurred, an eBook will generally include more design and layout work – and also be a little more ‘show, not tell’.
An eBook is a great choice as a lead magnet as the format is flexible and can be consumed everywhere. Plus, people like getting books for free!
6. Free courses
Courses can come in many forms and styles: you can have video courses, podcasts or email courses. A course can consist of one unit or be delivered in separate units over the course of a couple of days. Courses aim to teach people stuff they do not already know and transform them from a newbie into an expert on a problem they wish to solve.
An efficient way to come up with your course could be to repurpose some old content that you already have into a course format. For instance, a couple of blog posts on one topic that form a comprehensive course if you string them together into a series of emails. Or you can split up a webinar that you held into separate lessons, or send the chapters of an eBook as an email course.
Image Source: Rick Mulready
Webinars are a great way to build your email list. Apart from the chance to lure visitors to your website with a free sign-up to the webinar, you can also collaborate with other people from your niche on creating one. This will get you access to their customers as well.
However, webinars can be a tricky type of lead magnet for two reasons: firstly, by inviting your website visitors to your webinar, you automatically ask them for a big investment of time: usually an hour, at least. Secondly, webinars are often used as the last step in a sales process. That means that many people don’t expect to get a full 60 minutes of value for a one-hour webinar. The expectation is that you get about 40 minutes of value and a minimum of 20 minutes sales talk.
Also, if you only have little traffic to your website and a small email list, you run the risk of sitting in your webinar all by yourself – or even worse with one or two participants, so you have to go through with the webinar, but it will not be fun. There won’t be an active discussion or feedback; your participants might even leave the webinar before you finish.
Webinars should probably be your last resource as a lead magnet as they can often find a more useful place at the end of your sales funnel.
Image Source: Neil Patel
A great lead magnet can also offer something personal and interactive. For instance, you can provide an analysis of some interesting aspects of your business or the life of your website visitors. To make your earned leads even more targeted, you can offer an assessment that has something to do with your product.
For instance, 12 grapes, a German startup that offers help with hiring processes, uses a free assessment of your current team as a lead magnet.
9. Templates and swipe files
People like to copy from others. It makes them feel like they’re getting things right, and life is a lot easier if we have a template or swipe file that we can adapt for our purposes. Templates are great for when people are new to a topic and have not created content for a certain purpose before – therefore they make a great lead magnet as they provide an outline of what something should look like.
Image Source: Bidsketch
10. Sample chapters
Sample chapters are a great lead magnet if you also have an eBook or course you are selling. You can offer one sample chapter for free – make sure it’s one of the best chapters you have, and this lead magnet will fulfil two purposes at the same time:
- you’ll get email addresses
- you’ll make subscribers want more
Sample chapters usually work well for several reasons: mainly, you offer something for free that usually costs money. People figure if your content is good enough that people usually pay for it, then they’d better take the chance to get it for free!
The ideas listed above are obviously not everything that you can do in terms of lead magnets. There are multiple more ways to create free offers that will make people sign up for your email list – the sky is the limit!
If you start working with lead magnets, keep in mind what it is you want to achieve: a dedicated list of targeted subscribers from your niche. It is no use offering something shiny and sparkly, that will fill your email list fast if these subscribers are not from your target group.
Be sure to watch your numbers after you put your lead magnets out there: if only a small number of people sign up for your email list, your lead magnet may simply not be good enough – or targeted enough. In that scenario, try another lead magnet and see if it works better. If you already have some subscribers – or even better, customers – you can even send them a short survey to figure out what kind of free offer they would be interested in and what form of content they would rather have.
This way, you might get an even better idea for your perfect lead magnet!
Guest Author: Susanna Gebauer is a marketing blogger at The Social Ms. Her passion is teaching bloggers, entrepreneurs and small businesses how to grow their business on a small budget using online marketing. For a better understanding of what Susanna can do for your business and an introduction to blog and small business marketing, download their free workbook here. When she isn’t online, Susanna is a rescue dog handler who loves everything outdoors. Currently, she is training for her first marathon. Follow her on Twitter.