With more and more attention placed upon the importance of growing databases and better converting our current audiences, many people are now questioning the effectiveness of their email marketing strategy and around your lead magnet.
Nurturing a database through email marketing is one of our favorite topics to teach students during our certification.
Growing your email list is an effort that will reflect in various ways. However, it all starts with how you will hook people in, which is where your lead magnet comes in.
A lead magnet is a marketing term for a free resource given away to gather contact details: this can come in the form of free access to something, a template, resource, or even service. I had the pleasure of catching up with Alexander and Sarabeth Lewis for the Alt Marketing School podcast.
This power couple runs Lewis Commercial Writing, a SaaS copywriting and UX writing studio based in Austin, Texas. Their work helps companies like AppSumo increase sales and better connect with their customers.
We talked extensively about content, what makes people tick and how to amplify any efforts when it comes to converting people – and a big part of our conversation revolved around lead magnets, mainly thanks to the couple’s extensive work with AppSumo.
Alexander specialises in long-form content like ebooks and white papers, while Sarabeth helps product teams improve the user experience through content design.
The State of Lead Magnets
Alexander points out the main reason he believes many lead magnets are not converting as much these days.
“One of the reasons that people have a hard time with freebies is that they cobble together things that are already appearing on their blog, other blogs, or are easy to find on Google.”
In his words, one of the keys to getting a compelling white paper and practical ebook that people care to download is to identify something unique that you can’t find with a quick Google search.
Another essential step to encourage people to convert is how this information is translated into the landing page you’ll be producing to present our magnet – and this, in my opinion, is where most people will fail.
“You spotlight that (an aspect of your magnet) in your landing page by saying ‘we’re giving away these tactics, we’ve never given them away before’ or ‘we’ve talked to this expert.'”
According to Alexander, this is the best way to suddenly incentivize people to convert because they can’t find that anywhere else and branch out into further opportunities to distribute that content.
If someone does get a lot of value, they might share it on social media, or it could become an easy opportunity to get PR: “if you reach out to journalists and say ‘we just published this study here the findings, if you end up writing about it, like back to us.’ By being willing to publish things that have never been published, you open up many more opportunities for yourself.”
Embrace the Age of Convenience
Another great type of freebie Sarabeth recommends happens to be one of my personal favorites, and that is templates: “it’s hard to overestimate how important actionable plug and play templates are.”
In the age of convenience, we love done for you templates. It saves us time, which is quite a big commodity for most people.
Question prompt:what type of template can you create to save time for your audience?
When creating a magnet, you also want to understand your audience’s awareness stage.
“If someone is low awareness, you’ll need to give them a bit more information,” explains Sarabeth. “It’s more about storytelling. But if they’re solution aware and they’re aware of your product, then I think you can look to provide something more actionable.”
A perfect case in point, once again, comes from AppSumo. The templates do well because they have a specific audience, and their audiences, entrepreneurs, hustlers – people who are making the internet go round.
What is a Lead Magnet Anyway?
A lead magnet represents an exchange of value. If your lead magnet doesn’t provide value to your client or reader, don’t waste your time on it.
Far too many people focus on the format of their magnets, rather than the benefits and the problems they are looking to solve.
If you follow the way I usually create a lead magnet for myself or with my clients, you’ll always spend time brainstorming the problem to solution journey. What I call the A to B.
Where is your reader now, what problem are they trying to solve? What would be their ideal solution? Once you know both, you can take the time to create something that can help them with the first step to get closer to their solution.
Top tip: The most successful lead magnets I created are short magnets based on successful articles and pieces. They work because you have data that shows you already that people love them.
Look at What You Already Have
I am a massive believer in looking at what you already have and what your audience already loves. Take time to go through your analytics and see the top posts people engage with and visit.
Find your top 3-5 posts and make magnets that relate best to those posts. Can you turn any of those into a short video, audio or practical worksheet? Most likely, yes.
This will give you the quickest increase in your subscribers as you know you are getting maximum exposure – and you can always add them at the bottom of those posts.
Look at What Other Peers are Sharing
Take time to go on a little hunting mission – I personally love Pinterest for this.
Search some keywords in Pinterest relating to your niche and see what comes up as most popular. What types of lead magnets have been included in those top pins?
When in doubt, ask your audience. Talk to your readers via existing posts, an existing list if you have one or social media. What would be most helpful for them?
Give Something Practical
This is essential – there is nothing worse than creating a magnet that does nothing for your audience.
You do not have to give too much information, or make it overwhelming for them – however, you need to make sure people feel they got value out of the exchange.
As well as providing value, make sure you also add more info about yourself in the option. Whether it’s a blurb, a few key links for social and your writing, make sure you give people another chance to get to know who you are.
Different Types of Lead Magnets
Know that we know what a magnet should offer, is time to look at different formats and how they can work for you.
- eBooks – These can be super simple and created in a Word editing software and then saved as a PDF. You can also create those via Canva to align them to your own personal brand.
- Courses – Who doesn’t love a free opportunity to learn something? You can do something as simple as an automated course delivered via email over several days. Or you can amp it up with an amazing platform like Teachable – something we use to host our free and paid courses.
- Worksheet and checklists – Give your readers something actionable with a worksheet targeted to help them accomplish something related to your post or niche.
- Challenges and online conferences – We run an online conference yearly ourselves, and it does wonders for our exposure. These can take time to organise, so I recommend to host a solo challenge via email or a private Facebook group.
- Resource List – This can be a great source of information for readers and also a fantastic opportunity for you to add in some affiliate links and keep that passive income coming.
Once you have quite a few awesome Opt-in Freebies, you can offer them as a member’s only library. This allows you to simplify the opt-in forms on your site and have them all lead directly to your library.
The Power of Effective CTAs
Another sore point when creating excellent lead magnets is the power of your calls to action.
Your CTA should shorten the distance your customer or reader feels from what they’re trying to do.
Clicking a button sounds like an added step in what they’re trying to accomplish, admits Sarabeth: “that’s probably one of the reasons people do not convert as much, as it feels like one additional step to get to what readers are trying to do.”
We are looking at calls to action with a much stronger invitation: “On our website, we have a CTA that says ‘book a call.’ It’s simple but much more than ‘contact us.’ With ‘book a call,’ you click it, it goes to our call scheduler, and we have people in the calendar. It’s powerful.”
What could be a solution to this problem? “If your CTA answers a question that they are worried about, or if it tells them the price in the button – such as ‘start for $1’, it shortens the distance between the action they want to take.”
You can address an objection in the CTA, ‘just $1’ or ‘get started for free, or even ‘no credit card required. Think through and play around with that. Test different, and see how it works with the click-through rate.
Make it about them
When it comes to writing better content and encouraging people to take action (whether a lead magnet or anything), you need to learn how your customers talk about your product and your business. “Use that same language or the same structure they use to talk about your product and your company to form the copy on your website.”
Alexander and Sarabeth share how some of the best headlines they have ever written came straight from a customer’s mouth: “we just highlight it while we’re on the phone with them because we’re taking notes, and that often becomes the main headline.”
Many websites welcome us by reminding us how ‘we’re the greatest at doing X, Y, and Z’.
“If your website does that, just stop and flip it all on its head,” recommends Alexander. “The best way to do that is to put the verb first. It’s hard when it’s your business, your baby. You work there, trying to make it about the customer.”
There is a delicate balance between building trust and letting go of your identity to make the customer the centerpiece of your communication, which ultimately encourages them to take the next step.
How to gather more leads
A few reminders from lessons in lead magnets:
- Create something truly unique that people cannot find elsewhere
- Incentivize by working with experts or collaborating
- Try templates and done-for-you magnets
- Create compelling CTAs that solve a problem or answer a question
- Make your copy about your customers first
“There’s a lot of noise right now,” points out Alexander “what do you create that rises above that? I think being able to find focus and put it into the world – is something only you can create. I think that’s where you rise above the noise because you’re not just creating content for the sake of content. You’re creating content to add value to the end reader.”
Regardless of the type of content you want to create, never underestimate the importance of focusing on quality over quantity. Whether it’s lead magnets or any free content, being intelligent and efficient, as well as targeting our audience effectively, is going to be essential.
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