Lead magnets are a great way to grow your customer base, and you may have heard a lot of buzz around them recently – but what exactly are they, and why are they important?
Lead magnets are used by companies to obtain contact information from their customers, usually by offering a free or heavily discounted item or service as an incentive to the customer to give out these details. These might come in the form of a free trial (which may then lead to an automated subscription following the end of this trial period), free samples, sign-up offers, or free advice and consultations.
Creating a lead magnet can (and should!) be a priority for your business if you want to attract new customers. Read on to find out why, and how, you can do this.
Why are lead magnets important?
1. Connecting with new customers
As we mentioned, lead magnets are used to obtain contact information from potential future customers so that you can market your products or services to them via phone or email. Utilizing lead magnets for marketing to customers is a particularly powerful strategy because you have a direct line to the potential customers’ inboxes, where they are far more likely to take notice of and be influenced by your message than through other modes of advertising.
Problems may arise should you encounter ‘freebie hunters’ who give out their contact details for the sole purpose of receiving ‘freebies,’ without any intention of further engagement with the paid products or services that your company offers. However, this should not be dwelled upon too much; if you as a company are offering value in your product or service, your target audience will connect with your product through their introduction via a lead magnet, and should eventually become a paying customer. It’s okay that your product is not for everyone!
You may want to consider offering discount codes and coupons rather than an entirely free product or service, or videos and guides which only ‘tease’ your company’s offerings, leaving the customer interested in learning more. This method of using lead magnets for marketing will help draw the customer in and hopefully ensure a more lasting, substantial relationship with them – we will go into this a bit more later.
2. Demonstrating the quality of your product or service
Another way to ensure customers don’t just take your free offering and move on is, of course, to make your product or service so good as to get the customer hooked after trying out your freebie! Lead magnets are a good opportunity to let customers have a taste of what your company can offer them in the future without them having to shell out huge amounts of cash – a highly attractive offer!
Choose something that accurately and effectively demonstrates the quality of your product or service in bitesize form: no matter how good your product or service is, the lead magnet itself must be able to show this off, or it won’t be very effective at all in securing and expanding your customer base. Would this be best displayed in the form of a free sample, for example, if you are marketing skincare or makeup? Or in the case of expensive, luxury items, perhaps a significant discount would be most enticing to a future customer? If you are offering a service such as a training course, giving the customer a free first video, guide or consultation to draw him in would likely be most appropriate here. Think about what you are offering and how this can best be demonstrated to the customer through a lead magnet.
3. Building a relationship with the customer
Once you have a database of customers’ (or potential future customers’) details, think about how this can be used to engage with them on a continuous basis, building a relationship between your company and its customer base. A regular newsletter, for example, is a good way to express your company’s brand or ‘voice’, and keep the customer up-to-date with new products or services, offers, and news. Engaging with customers regularly in this way can help to distinguish you from all the other companies vying for their time and attention in their inbox.
What began as a simple lead magnet can become a tool for building a long-lasting relationship with the customer to foster trust and encourage brand loyalty: a loyal customer base is, of course, a great outcome for you in the long-run!
How to create a lead magnet?
Now that we have shown you the importance of lead magnets for marketing, we can look at how to create a lead magnet that is effective and impactful, helping you to grow your customer base.
1. Identifying a target audience and their wants
In creating a lead magnet, try to identify what kind of customer you are marketing to. Trying to create a lead magnet that appeals to absolutely everyone will only result in an offering that is bland and, most importantly, largely ineffective. Targeted led magnets are far more likely to attract attention because they will offer something your target audience actually wants and needs, and will appear to appeal directly to their particular interests.
What kind of consumer does your company want to market to? Do they fall into a particular age range, demographic, or professional group? Once you’ve answered this question, you can begin to consider the needs and wants of this particular audience – what can you offer to solve a challenge particular to them? – as well as consider the tone and language used in your lead magnet. A particular group of professionals, for example, may be on the lookout for terminology specific to their field which lets them know you are knowledgeable, whereas if you are a ‘young’ brand, perhaps marketing to a teenage demographic, a more fun, witty tone could be just the ticket.
2. Making it easy and immediately usable
You want to ensure that what you are offering as a lead magnet is easy to download or sign up for – pages and pages of redirects or confusing instructions will cause a potential customer to lose interest and move on. Perhaps your magnet is so well hidden on your page that your website’s visitor doesn’t even notice that it exists in the first place! Ensure that the landing page of your website has your magnet displayed prominently; for example, pop-up windows get a bad reputation but they are commonly used and are, in fact, effective in attracting email sign-ups with lead magnet offerings.
Once your magnet has successfully attracted a customer and he has given you his email address, you want to ensure that an automated email response is in place to deliver the advertised offer immediately. Delays in getting this to the customer will mean he may lose interest, forget he has signed up to your list, and/or lose your email in his busy inbox over time. We will go over types of lead magnets later, but know that formats such as cheat sheets and ebooks are usually more effective as magnets as customers have access to the content they signed up for immediately after inputting their information. If your magnet comes in the form of, say, a discount code, it would be best to ensure this is also immediately delivered and usable by the customer, while the idea of shopping online with your company is still fresh in his mind.
3. Being specific in what you are offering and the problem it solves
As well as being particular with regards to whom you are marketing to, being specific with what you are offering is important in creating a lead magnet. Being vague or too general is a sure way to make customers skip over your lead magnet rather than engage with it. For example, if you are offering a first free lesson in a professional teaching course, let your customer know exactly what the lesson itself and the course as a whole will offer (what skills it will teach, how long it will take, and such), and why it will be of particular value to him in his line of work/field of interest. Make sure also that what you are offering solves a real problem for your identified target audience – none of the tips in this section will be particularly useful if your offer itself is unhelpful, uninteresting, or even redundant! See the following example of a very specific lead magnet from videofruit.com:
The lead magnet lays out what will be downloaded and why it is useful, leaving the customer with no doubt as to what he is signing up for. Perhaps the title, however, could be criticized for being too lengthy and not getting its idea across in a snappy, succinct way, which leads us to our next piece of advice.
4. Titling your lead magnet appropriately
An eye-catching, snappy title for your lead magnet could be the difference between a customer offering up his information and passing over your offer entirely! In creating a lead magnet, and giving it an appropriate title, you are trying to convince the customer that what you have to offer makes it worthwhile for him to give you future access to his inbox.
This is especially relevant if you are offering a free guide or video; consider addressing the problem you want to solve for the customer in the title, by using the format ‘How to___ if you want to___.’ Notice how this title lets the customer know, in a short and succinct way, both what you are offering as a company, and what problem or goal of his this is likely to address. This is a way to be specific and make the customer feel like you have his particular interests at heart.
As mentioned in the previous point, try to be accurate about what you are offering in your title. Vague titles like ‘How to be a better cook’ are less likely to be successful as lead magnets than, for example, ‘How to cook healthier meals at home using 5 simple steps.’ The second title is more specific – we are talking about healthy cooking, not just general cooking – and sets out an expectation for what you are offering and the format of the guide, i.e. a five-step guide. The second offering sounds more attainable in its goal, and the customer will know exactly what to expect, making him more likely to download the lead magnet than in the first instance.
How do lead magnets work?
So, now you know that lead magnets are important and have some ideas about what makes a good one, but how exactly do they work as a marketing tool?
1. Offering value
The key appeal of a lead magnet is that it offers value to a potential future customer. For a lead magnet to work, it must be able to offer something of value to someone, perhaps who falls within your target audience but has not yet engaged with your company’s offerings (see the previous section for tips on how to create an attractive lead magnet for an identified target audience). Lead magnet templates can be downloaded in various formats across the Internet and utilized to save you time in creating your own graphically interesting and engaging eBook, guide or worksheet, while still looking professional and being successful in its aim of ‘drawing in’ your potential customer, convincing him that you have something of value to offer in exchange for his details. The potential formats for these offerings are many, as we will see next.
2. Offering a variety of magnet types
Lead magnets can come in a wide variety of formats, with lead magnet templates available online to download and customize for whichever type of magnet you are looking to use. Which format you choose will depend on the type of company you are running and the product or service you are looking to promote. Check out some of the options we’ve listed below:
eBook – A popular format of lead magnet used by many companies, a free eBook is ideal in that it offers great value whilst not requiring a huge amount of effort on your part. Consider which articles from your existing blog are popular amongst your target audience, and collate these into an eBook, adding introductions and a conclusion to round it out. Keep it short and snappy, however, or the offer may lose the customer’s interest.
Checklist – A checklist, again, is an item that will be quite easy for you to create, and will certainly be easy to find lead magnet templates for online. They are short, concise and break down your information into actionable points. The advantage of these over a long-form text document, such as an eBook, is that they break down advice into easily digestible chunks – in a fast-paced, information-overloaded world, brevity and clarity are preferable!
Cheatsheet – These are similar to checklists, but vary in their structure slightly (listing rather than bullet pointing advice and guidance given), with a focus on achieving a specific aim – this is helpful in terms of identifying a problem your target audience has and offering a solution to this problem.
Video course – The advantage of a course is the fact that it allows you to continuously engage with your lead, rather than giving him one offer at a single point in time, nurturing your relationship with him by providing more content. The format of a video is preferable to many over a book or other text document – it can often be easier to digest information with visuals and a voiceover than reading a wall of text.
Discount on products – Perhaps not as enticing as an entirely free magnet, but who doesn’t like to feel like they’ve got a great deal? If your lead is intending to shop with you anyway, it’s a no-brainer for him to sign-up to your mailing list and gets an extra 5, 10, or 15% discount off his order. The promise of future offers and discounts can be highly effective here also, ensuring future emails are more likely to be opened by the customer.
Free trial of service – This is a great way to show off what you can offer as a company – a trial period that allows your customer access to your services, for free, for a limited time. Ideally, the strength of your service is enough to convince him to remain subscribed past this trial period and become a full, paying customer of your company.
Event or webinar – Offering free access to a live event or webinar doesn’t follow the previously mentioned rule of being ‘immediately accessible,’ but can still be effective as a lead magnet for those looking to gain access to your knowledge and expertise. Webinars and events are appealing as they offer a level of engagement that is otherwise lacking in the other magnet examples here, with audience members being able to ask questions in real-time. In-person events are more limited, of course, as they will only appeal to those living within the vicinity of the event taking place, but live-streaming options may help get around this issue.
3. Receiving value in return
Once your customer has successfully accepted your ‘opt-in bribe’ (as lead magnets are sometimes called!) his contact details will be available to your company to use for marketing purposes. In offering freebies in exchange for contact details, companies who use lead magnets are most likely looking to grow their newsletter lists so that their product or service can reach the awareness of more potential customers. It’s as simple as that: greater outreach = a wider customer base, and gathering contact details is an important step in doing this (alongside, of course, conventional advertising methods to increase visibility of your product or service). In this way, lead magnets work by offering something of value (i.e. the freebie) to the customer, and receiving something of value (i.e. the contact details) in return for this offering. Past this point, you should have a ‘follow-up plan’ for your mailing list, nurturing your relationship with the lead by offering a steady stream of relevant, engaging and helpful content. Congratulations, you’ve successfully utilized lead magnets to grow your customer base!
Caitlin is a writer for Camberlion marketing studio alongside other organizations and publications. She enjoys writing on a variety of topics, architecture and pop culture in particular, in which she is an expert.