A motivated lead is one of the most valuable assets a growing business has. The path to the email inbox is also challenging thanks to stricter spam algorithms, and marketers can no longer merely market to a list of users. But email still creates a personal connection. Building an organic list of engaged users is necessary.
Your business needs a foolproof method to grab attention, deliver value, and build a foundation for trust if you intend to use email marketing. What you need is a lead magnet.
When you build an organic list, you’re in control of every offer those users see across the lifespan of your relationship with them. Unless you qualify your leads, they are not receptive to your messaging, are more likely to mark your mail as “spam,” and, ultimately, damage your brand and credibility. Can the payoff offset the risk?
First, we’ll break down the fundamentals of a foolproof lead magnet before diving into some examples.
Basic Lead Magnet Setup
A lead magnet is an incentive for potential buyers in exchange for opting into an email marketing list. A strong lead magnet captures opt-in email addresses at high rates and has the potential for even greater exposure if it goes viral.
Using what’s called “gating,” a lead magnet is only released for users who provide an email address, either via double opt-in or captcha. Once the user has confirmed their subscription or completed the sign-up form, the “gate” is unlocked, and the software, eBook, or webinar becomes available.
For a successful gate, you need a landing page that drives action. Load time should be as fast as possible, with a call to action that is apparent and clear. Communicate the end goal in the fewest number of words. Instead of “Click Here,” be more specific:
- Download Your eBook
- Get Inspiration Delivered
- Meet Our Experts
If you want to collect more than just a name and email address, make sure you’re asking for only the most essential information on your form. The more fields the user sees, the less likely someone is to complete them.
Brevity works best when it comes to lead capture. You can learn later what other offers might entice them.
Types of Lead Magnets
A lead magnet can be anything providing value to your end user. Brick and mortar retailers use sale signs, mannequins, and free incentives to get foot traffic and loyalty cards or coupons to bring them back. Consider what value your business offers to potential customers that will get them to agree to your messaging. Although this list is by no means comprehensive, some typical
examples of lead magnets include:
- How-To Manuals
- Scripts and Tutorials
- Web Applications
- Planners (30-Day Plans, etc.)
- Downloadable Versions of Excellent Content
- Trends and Assessments
- Replays of Important Events
You’ll notice that each example can provide immediate access automatically after the customer supplies contact information. Lead magnets should be as autonomous as possible, requiring very little input from you once you create the gate.
Lead Magnet Fundamentals
A lead magnet should provide maximum value for minimum effort. The following sections flesh out the components of a successful lead magnet.
If you publish an eBook, distill it to the most essential points so that every word leads to the payoff. Consider consumption time. When your lead magnet is an informative eBook, your goal is the fastest possible time from reading to action. Use a table of contents to let the reader be the guide, as well as headlines and bullet points to make your text skim-friendly. You might even include suggested reading time, so potential customers understand the investment required for the payoff.
White papers are ideal lead magnets because they contain zero fluff.
- Be direct, edit out the fluff and passive voice
- Create bullet lists
- Identify crucial terms, statistics, and insights in headlines
- Use clear visual aids
Adobe and IBM use business intelligence white papers aimed at qualified leads. White papers deliver essential industry statistics as quickly as possible. Aimed at decision makers most in need of useful information, industry trends and future insights on the state of the market and customer expectations help provide a path forward. Hooks within the document, such as contact information to your sales department, bring the reader back to your goal funnel.
At a fundamental level, a good lead magnet either solves a real problem or provides useful information. It’s not just about interesting statistics, but rather practical research someone can use. Aim for high-value content that will translate into tangible gains for your potential customer.
Finally, lead magnets demonstrate deep expertise on the topic at hand. Remember that updates to your lead magnet can be repackaged and used to reignite a list and grow your brand in other ways.
With these ideas in mind, let’s look at a few strong lead magnet examples.
Solve a Problem With a Guide
SEO requires a great deal of market knowledge. Moz, an SEO, and digital marketing provider packages these insights into an invaluable resource called the Beginner’s Guide to SEO. Access does not require the user’s email address, which builds trust. Within the guide are hooks to other tools and resources for selling Moz’s services.
The guide is an excellent magnet because it provides the necessary solutions to common problems their customer base will face. It defines key terms, offers advanced insights, use cases, and research with no strings attached.
Moz’s guide is ambitious, but your guide can tackle a small problem well with useful information. Focus on the solutions to a specific set of issues. Those solutions will help customers accomplish their goals faster.
Make the reward as instant as possible. It’s a good idea to provide high-level thinking at the start, with detailed statistics the reader can dive into for specific insights.
Provide a Worksheet and Analysis
You can package trend analyses and insights into a magnet that works well to capture new leads. Thoroughly research the most prominent names and modern trends in your industry and create comprehensive content that shortens the length of time it takes to get up to speed with one’s trade.
Provide expert commentary, and then link to the most established names and relevant advice in your industry. Do the legwork of thoroughly reading each post you link to so you can be sure each is as relevant to your main idea as possible. To personalize the guide further, add a worksheet to assist in the planning or execution of your big idea.
Marketo offers a series of worksheets, but we’ll focus on the Social Media Editorial Calendar for an example. It provides users fast answers to common questions, like how much content to post or how to define your account’s voice. Access to the guide is free, and Marketo’s knowledgable experts greatly enhance the guide’s value with quotes and useful insights. The document contains links to additional guides Marketo hosts, as well as some tips that users of Marketo can adopt for their own purposes.
The value proposition is easy: You are giving expert trend analyses and market insights they want or need.
Not every lead magnet is an eBook. Some businesses offer a service or a particular tool. In this case, your lead magnet should allow the user to accomplish a specific goal quickly.
Hubspot’s Website Grader is a great example. Chances are, anyone reading this blog wants to market their website better, but where does that process start? The tool asks the user for an email address and a URL to audit. The user gets a free report after clicking the “Get Your Answer” button.
The company also emails a copy of the report, with easy-to-understand steps that lead to action. If your site takes too long to load, for instance, the tool grades individual elements that affect load time. The system identifies problems and provides some potential fixes for those issues. That’s what a great lead magnet does, after all.
You can also create additional resources that boost the customer’s efficiency. Trello does a great job with templates that users can customize and fit whatever goals they have set. A live example gets the user inside the tool, with a simple signup hook to finalize setup.
Does your service deliver something to the consumer? Can you automate or personalize any aspect of it? If so, you can offer a free trial for an immediate payoff. Don’t underestimate the value of a trial. You provide users with a live example of your application’s best features.
If your customer gets a taste for how your service or product will help their lives, it sells itself. Customers may tell others in their industry about your product, improve word of mouth opportunities, and expand your reach.
Almost every video or music streaming service acquires new users with the free trial offer, but Ancestry.com has a particularly effective hook for their unique offer. With an “All Access” membership, users get the full suite of services free for 14 days. The trial provokes users to reconsider how much they might be willing to spend with a convenient chart detailing each feature the user misses out on using the lowest pricing tier.
The most significant advantage of a free trial is that once someone signs up for one, they are already using your product. Consider limiting access to specific tools or features during a free trial. You can convert free trials to paid customers if your tools provide a service that the potential customer needs.
Quizzes and Surveys
Forms do an excellent job of collecting specific information you need to segment your list. With a multiple-choice quiz, consumers provide the most relevant information by answering your questions. Pre-defined options segment consumers into whatever list logic you set based on their answers.
Deliver a link to results of their quiz that will also whitelist your send address.
Quizzes have high engagement and strong shared social value. Your clients are likely to pass them along to friends, especially if they find your quiz via social media.
Assessments and tests offer a similar outcome with a more specific aim. The answer should reveal something about the customer’s pain point. A good example is a test to find out how “bad” your dog is acting, or whether your child is ready for potty training.
Ideas and Prompts
Ideas and prompts push your user base into action. You might help motivate your audience to start a new business, find their niche, find a job, or any one of many useful ideas. They can take many forms as well.
StudioBinder generated a list of 150 potential YouTube channel ideas its audience can use to build a following. The content is free, but a printable eBook is available in exchange for an email address. You can email contacts a new idea each day for 30 days, which ensures long-term engagement if the value is high enough. You can also discuss ideas on a webinar that users sign up to attend. Later, you can re-package this content into another offering.
Prompts offer your audience something inspirational that may lead to growth in some other form. These ideas are also one of the lowest effort lead magnets in this list. If your ideas motivate the user, he or she is likely to return for more content. You can also use these prompts to inform your content. A list of business startup concepts leads well into blog posts thow best to run successful versions of those businesses.
Lead magnets require some creative thought and testing to perfect, but they all have a few ideas in common:
- They succinctly offer high-value information
- They contain clear goals in mind for the user
- They build trust and establish authority
These ideas are time-tested, and as you can see, there are examples all around us. Not every magnet will fit your business idea, but test the waters and let us know how it goes.
What kinds of lead magnets have you tried? Tell us in the comments!