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An Introduction to Lead Magnets

We’ve all been on websites where a pop-up window appears offering a free ebook, report or template in return for your email address – but why is it so popular? What’s the reasoning behind it? Let’s find out.

What is a Lead Magnet?

Firstly, let’s define a lead: it’s someone who has shown interest in your company, product or service to the extent that they have shared their contact details with you with an intention of possibly trading with you in the future. So a lead magnet is something that encourages people to share their contact details with you (usually their first name and an email address at a minimum).

People aren’t going to share that stuff for nothing, so you need to provide an incentive, hence why companies offer a freebie in return for your email address. This is a lead magnet in action (the term “lead magnet” refers to the ebook or resource that is on offer). It’s a metaphorical carrot dangling in front of you to part with your details.

So let’s go through the whole process. A business creates a valuable asset (we’ll talk about formats shortly) and provides it for free through their website in exchange for – most commonly – the recipient’s email address; often also their name, and occasionally some other information; on the proviso that the company can contact the reader later down the line. The reader is made aware of this free content by way of either a popup on the business’ website, a “landing page” which is a specific type of page that can be used to promote a lead magnet and request the visitors’ data. There are no rules with regards to how the lead magnet is supplied to the user, but they’re almost always provided online and somewhat instantly; be it through email or through a direct download link.

Once the business has your email address and any other data they requested, and the lead magnet has been provided, the company can then contact the recipient (who now qualifies as a lead) with updates and offers.

Some of you may be asking “Why is getting someone’s email address so important? I have a great following on social media, what makes email so different?” Let’s take a moment to answer that question…

Why are email lists so important?

Building an email list full of people who have willingly provided their information is more important than ever – why?

  • An email sitting in your inbox is less “ignore-able” than a social media post, and lasts longer than the fast-paced world of social platforms. On Facebook or Twitter for example, you can scroll past a post and easily forget it, but an email is there in front of you, and only goes away if filed or deleted.
  • A social audience is nice and all, but social media platforms change their algorithms regularly. This potentially means that your message may not be getting across effectively to your followers; or worse, your carefully cultivated group of followers could be scattered overnight due to a change that’s out of your hands. However, with an email list, you alone are in charge of it. You call the shots on how it’s used, you can back it up regularly, and it won’t be affected by the latest Facebook or Twitter algorithm update.
  • People may check social media more frequently than their email, but they check their email more thoroughly and meaningfully.
  • The people in the list have effectively agreed to be marketed to, so you know they’re interested in what you do. They have actively put their name forward as someone who wants to hear more from somebody in your field, so you’re in with a better chance of winning them over.
  • Don’t just take it from me, look at the numbers: Entrepreneur and Campaign Monitor have some great statistics that prove that email marketing is on the up and up.

What things do people give away as lead magnets?

So what sorts of things do people create to give away? Here are some of the most popular formats:

  • Short Ebooks
  • Email or Video Courses
  • Templates, Checklists and Tools
  • Tutorials, “Cheat Sheets” and Worksheets
  • Live Interactive Webinars, or access to a pre-recorded session.
  • Offers & vouchers (especially if you’re a retailer)
  • Limited time free trial – great for online software or resource providers
  • Free membership to a private resource such as an invite-only forum or closed social media group
  • Free 10/15/20 minute phone or Skype consultation (ideal for coaches, therapists and consultants)
  • Entry into a competition or giveaway

What should my lead magnet be about?

Well firstly, you need to answer a genuine need that your audience has. This comes from understanding your clients and the problems you are able to help them with. You also need to be aware of the unique way in which your company in particular can react to that need, and the individual benefits that only you can provide. What are the most common questions those in your field get asked? What issues are you most regularly asked to solve? As well as your own personal responses to these questions, research thoroughly and see what questions people are asking, how people are answering them and see if there are any gaps in people’s knowledge you could fill in or any wrinkles you can iron out – social media and Q & A sites (like Quora) are great for this.

There is one huge sticking point that a lot of businesses come across, especially if you are providing a service rather than a product. It’s the worry that you’re going to give too much valuable information away and that whoever downloads your lead magnet won’t use your services in a million years because you’ve told them how to do it all. This is absolutely false. People will still want to use your service for a variety of reasons – perhaps they don’t have the time, talent or inclination to carry out the tasks you can do for them – and those customers would feel the same with or without the lead magnet. The only difference is if they’ve accessed your lead magnet, then you’re then on each other’s radar, and you wouldn’t have been otherwise. It’s still done it’s job in connecting the two of you.

Even I have struggled with this realisation – I even needed to be told personally by awesome social marketing expert Kimberly Jimenez before I believed it myself! Don’t be afraid of giving away a few secrets, it really won’t affect your bottom line as much as you think it might.

If it’s the difference between adding value and adding nothing – go for value every time. Now there’s some advice for marketing, and for life.

Puzzled by the trend of freebies and lead magnets? Check out this handy guide to the basics Click To Tweet

Join me next time when we take a look at the practicalities of implementing a lead magnet and how to promote it for best results.

Got any questions about lead magnets? What topic would you create one about? Let’s chat down in the comments!

Graphic Attribution: Background – Jack Moreh at FreeRangeStock.com, Magnet Image: “OpenClipartVectors” at Pixabay.