What’s the Deal With Lead Magnets?

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The term “Lead Magnet” has become a bit of a buzzword, especially in the last few years or so. But what exactly is a lead magnet? And why is everyone making such a big deal about it?

In a nutshell, whenever a prospect lands on your website, your end goal is to drive profitable action. But visitors are seldom ready to make purchase decisions right away. That’s where lead magnets come in.

Lead magnets are free content you give your website visitors in exchange for their contact information so you can build your email list.

When you use lead magnets, you grant them access to gated content, and in return, they fill out a sign-up form on your site. And voila! You just got them to join your email list, which can make it a whole lot easier for you to engage with and convert them into future buyers through email marketing.

Think of lead magnets as a reward for opening a dialogue and engaging with your brand.

Who Can Use Lead Magnets?

What's The Deal With Lead Magnets?
Lead magnets are a great choice for you if you’re:

1. Trying to Initiate Interaction

The vast majority of first-time visitors aren’t ready to buy. Rather, they’re more likely just looking around as they shop for options. Maybe they’re doing some product research. Maybe they’re just interested in an educational infographic you published. But you can’t give up just yet and let your prospect slip away. The simple act of browsing your site is a promising indication that sooner or later, they might become a customer.

While they’re at this stage of the buying process, you can take the opportunity to offer free content. It’s a good way to connect with your leads, especially when you’re able to give them something valuable and relevant in a content format that appeals to them.
Your free offer can also help you build a sense of confidence, trust, and authority amongst your sales prospects. It’s a gesture that reflects serious efforts from your end to provide “real” value.

2. Concerned With Quality Lead Generation

Lead magnets are particularly useful for your content marketing team if your focus is on the quality of leads and not quantity. Gated content is not available for everyone, but anyone who wants it enough will be willing to share their personal information with you. (This includes their name, email address, occupation, company, annual revenue, and anything else that helps your sales team personalize and improve their communications).

By getting these details, you can paint a better picture of these prospects, and in the future, you can also take advantage of qualitative information to craft better lead magnets that are more attractive to your target audience segment. Gating your content might lead to a reduction in traffic and page views, but you can pretty much guarantee that the users who do end up viewing your content will be better in terms of quality and relevance to your product offering.

Use Your Lead Magnets Wisely

Research says that when you give your subscribers a good idea of the kind of content they’re signing up for, the opt-in rate can rise by almost 85%. But because of the large scope of information required to put together a whitepaper, or any report/guide that tries to break down a complex issue, not every company feels compelled to include these downloadables in their content lineup. But, for people looking for facts, trends, figures, or industry insights, downloadable content is a goldmine of information. Now that you’ve created excellent, unique content that generates interest, it’s time to put your lead generation mechanisms into action. You can do this by gating your content. Gated content simply requires that your prospect offers up a few key details like their name, email address, and location, to name a few, in exchange for access to your content. Once you’ve exchanged contact information with your prospect, you’re ready to start nudging that lead along your sales funnel with a nurture campaign.

Here are the stats:

  • 80% of business leaders and decision-makers choose to get company information through a series of articles instead of an advertisement.
  • Organic search leads enjoy a 14.6% close rate compared with outbound marketing’s 1.7%.
  • Nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads.

You probably won’t want to gate all the content on your website because that will likely have a negative effect on traffic. It’s always a good idea to build up a healthy balance of gated and ungated content, so you’re still making the most of content marketing for SEO while saving your best content for those that really want it.

Top Lead Magnet Ideas

Since you aim to “magnetize” your sales leads to join your email list, you should make sure that your lead magnets offer something valuable that’s specific to the interests of your target audience. Here’s how:

1. eBooks

People love eBooks because they’re easy to download, save, and read, especially those in PDF format. Your eBook could be something as simple as a PDF version of a blog post so users can download it for offline reference at a later point. Online users don’t always have the time to read long-form articles, so offering a “takeaway” version can sometimes be enough to compel prospects to sign up.

On the other hand, you can also create a comprehensive eBook that’s related to a particular blog post but offers more detailed actionable tips. You can then use it as a content upgrade so users can choose to sign up if they’re interested in the blog post and want to learn more about the topic.

If you’re in the recruitment business, for example, you could create a job search handbook that helps job seekers make the most of their time. By focusing on a topic that represents your brand and is beneficial to your leads, you are in effect enhancing the credibility of your company. There are a few strategies you can implement with eBooks. Just make sure you’re specific about who you target and how you convey value.

2. Whitepapers

As previously mentioned, whitepapers offer in-depth reports and expert insights that typically present a problem and provide a solution. You can use this type of content to promote your brand’s products or services, and even your position on a particular subject. That being said, you should never come off as aggressively salesy. The objective of a well-written whitepaper is to inform, educate, and persuade based on facts and evidence, not to broadcast how great your product is and why they need to buy it now.
Whitepapers can be grouped into three types:

  • Backgrounders (describe the technical features of a product offering)
  • Numbered lists (break down important points of a complex concept)
  • Problem/solution (introduce or recommend a fix for a business issue)

Because readers expect such a high degree of expertise backed by proper research, whitepapers help brands build trust and position themselves as an authority figure in the industry. What sets them apart from eBooks is that they’re far more serious in tone and less flashy. Demand Gen’s 2016 Content Preferences Survey Report also stated that whitepapers are the top content type used to make B2B buying decisions.

3. Quizzes

For digital users with short attention spans, sometimes it’s worth considering interactive content that forces users to engage. Enter the quiz lead magnet, where you provide some form of assessment or test and interpret the result of their answers at the end. For example, young parents might want to take a quiz to know if their parenting style might be too restrictive or too liberal for their children. Since it’s natural for parents to want to know whether they’re raising their kids right, it’s almost a guarantee that they’ll be inputting their email address to get a copy of the test results.

4. Checklists

One good thing about this content type is that it’s short and sweet. You can easily put together a spreadsheet with headings or subheadings along with concise copy to list important items or to-do tasks that can guide people in organizing a particular activity or process. The idea here is to simplify a relatively complex activity and to provide step-by-step instructions to readers who might be relatively new to that particular field of knowledge. If you’re planning to create a checklist, make sure your steps are actionable and keep the copy to a minimum.

5. Research Reports

These content types are arguably the hardest to produce because they require original research, which can take a significant amount of time to collect and analyze. However, this also makes them all the more appealing to your audience because the same information simply cannot be found anywhere else. If your team has the capacity to collect and analyze original data, developing a research report is a fantastic way to generate leads and build a name for your brand as an industry expert. A great example of a brand using research reports for content marketing is HubSpot with its State of Inbound Report.

6. Cheat Sheets

Everybody loves cheat sheets because they save people a lot of time by cutting to the chase. They work similarly to a checklist, only cheat sheets have a more actionable nature to them. Cheat sheets are especially useful if you’re sharing tips that help readers understand complex tasks for the first time. A good example of this type of content might be “A Handy Cheat Sheet for Beginner Ad Writers.” When developing a cheat sheet, always remember to keep things brief and concise. It’s not about telling a story; it’s about getting straight to the value of your content.

7. Coupons

If you’re trying to drive sales on your e-commerce store, free coupons can be highly-effective lead magnets. By offering discounts, you’re creating a sense of exclusivity, giving prospects more incentive to make purchase decisions. Further, instill a sense of urgency by making your discount offer limited. This usually creates enough “fear of loss” to drive initial purchases. Airlines, travel agencies, fashion stores, food and beverage companies, and other retail businesses are more likely to offer free coupons because of the high price sensitivity of their markets.

8. Free Trials

A free trial is a very logical offer for your sales leads. By signing up for a free trial to, say, a SaaS tool, your leads can see how your product works firsthand and determine if it’s something that can be integrated into their operations. These factors are helpful as your potential customers decide to continue with the purchase down the road. You should also design your free trial lead magnet with an email workflow that follows up when leads don’t convert into buyers after the trial period expires.

9. Webinars

Webinars are usually highly anticipated and well-received because prospects want to learn from the experts. Their interactive nature and opportunity for learning make them highly sought after and are often the highest-converting lead magnet formats. One of the most important things to keep in mind with webinars is to engage and interact with your audience. Remember, you’re doing this for them, not your brand. Relevant interactions create even more value for your audience, so the more you’re able to engage, the more likely your webinar will be a success. To further enhance your webinar’s magnetism, offer it live as well as via a pre-recorded video so your prospects can view it at their own convenience. Not everyone operates in the same time zones and working hours.

Key Takeaway

To sum up, using lead magnets is key to your marketing strategy if you’re looking to build a relevant contact list and establish a relationship with your prospective customers. Email marketing is still delivering the highest ROI of any other channel, so the quality and size of your contact list are extremely important. Both you and your leads stand to benefit from lead magnets: you give your leads content that they want for free, and you get the contact information you need for your lead email campaigns. But before going out and creating a lead magnet, you should always ask yourself this question:

What can I give away for free that will make my prospective customers’ lives better?

If you have an answer to that, you’ve got yourself a great idea for a lead magnet!