[This article first appeared here in March 2019 and has been updated and revised.]
Whether you’re building an email list, driving traffic to your website, or nurturing prospects, using a lead magnet is a surefire method for getting a response.
As the name suggests, a lead magnet is an offer of some type that is designed to attract leads, to incite the interest of potential customers or clients. And they are essential for digital marketing.
Build It and They Will Come. So, How's That Working for You?
The concept of lead magnets is certainly not new in the marketing realm. In the digital world they are also known by a few other names such as “opt-in incentives”, “ethical bribes” and “freemiums.” For those creating and using them, they can also be referred to as downloadable assets.
The power of a lead magnet is its inherent ability to attract attention and trigger an action on the part of the recipient. And in marketing – no matter what type or philosophy – getting attention and a response is tantamount. Without those two actions all the rest is more or less pointless.
Lead magnets are essential assets for your digital marketing because they are incredibly effective for building email lists, develop customer relationships, and increase sales.
What Is a Lead Magnet in Simple Terms?
Like many other terms used by marketing geeks and even business-owners-as-marketers, a lead magnet can mean a few different things to different people. However, we’ve a handful of helpful definitions that can clarify it for our purposes:
“A lead magnet is a marketing tool that generates leads by offering a long-form resource in exchange for a prospect's contact information. Leads magnets can take the form of ebooks, whitepapers, templates, and similar downloadable assets. This exchange takes place at the second stage of a buyer's conversion path.“ - HubSpot
“A lead magnet is a resource or other item of value that businesses use to collect leads. The business asks the visitor to provide contact information, such as an email address, in exchange for the lead magnet.” - CrazyEgg
“A lead magnet is an incentive that marketers offer to potential buyers in exchange for their email address, or other contact information. Lead magnets usually offer a piece of digital, downloadable content, such as a free PDF checklist, report, eBook, whitepaper, video, etc.” - OptinMonster
What all these descriptions have in common is the idea that a lead magnet serves as a resource for prospects and almost always in exchange for an email address. And this is often just the beginning of what can be a beautiful relationship!
Why You Need Lead Magnets
It’s a crowded world out there.
The collective “noise” in the digital space is overwhelming and shows no indications of dropping off, slowing down or getting quieter. Not only are you competing against your respected industry colleagues, you’re competing against every other social media platform, every new app, and every other ad out there.
Neil Patel at crazyegg.com comments on the rising flood of email, for example:
“Consumers have become protective of their personal information. It’s largely related to volume. The typical office worker, for instance, receives more than 120 emails every day. Nearly 2.5 million emails get sent daily, resulting in 74 trillion emails sent annually. Lead magnets are important because they provide incentive. Your prospect might not hand over contact information for free, but he or she might have a change of heart if you’re offering a valuable resource.”
While this is the reality for marketers (and prospects!) what has also been shown to be true is that certain things can succeed in standing out in the crowded marketplace and rise above the clutter and noise.
And one of those is a lead magnet.
Remember: the fundamental purpose of the lead magnet is to simply catch the attention of a prospect and provide enough incentive to click, opt in, sign up, or download. They are not expected to make a sale although they can (and should) move your prospect along that path if you’re ultimately selling something.
So, What Makes for a Good Lead Magnet?
So, we’ve briefly established what lead magnets are, what they are for, and why you need them. Now let’s look at what’s needed for a good lead magnet.
There are some fundamental qualities that every good lead magnet should possess, and these are relevance, quality and accessibility. We could also throw in that it needs to be free, but we’ll assume that’s a given!
Your lead magnet needs to be relevant to both your business and your intended audience. Offering up some random article or recycled blog post won’t cut it. It needs to be intentional and well-though out. Which leads us into quality: don’t offer junk. Make your lead magnets shine – they reflect and represent your company, your brand. And they need to be easily obtained. Not convoluted “gating” or lengthy opt-in form here – make it simple to access.
The folks at OptinMonster offer up these points for what your lead magnet should do to be “absolutely irresistible”:
- Solve a real problem
- Promise one quick win
- Be super specific
- Be quick to digest
- Have high value
- Be instantly accessible
- Demonstrate your expertise or unique value proposition
Simply put, your lead magnets can take many forms, but they should always have the following characteristics:
- They promote your business (that is, they successfully generate leads)
- They are free to deliver (no cost to you)
- They possess high perceived value (they're seen as valuable, helpful, or informative)
What are the most important qualities of an effective lead magnet?
Your lead magnets can be valuable offers that your brand can provide in exchange for a potential customer's contact information, such as their email address or phone number.
Here are the top three qualities or characteristics that make a lead magnet effective:
Relevance: While this may seem obvious, it can be a bit challenging to crate an effective lead magnet that is relevant to your target audience's needs and desires. It should address a specific problem or concern that your audience has and offer a solution that is both useful and actionable. By providing something that is relevant, a brand can attract the right kind of leads and build a relationship with them.
Value: A lead magnet should provide real value that is specific to your target audience. It should offer something that is not readily available elsewhere and is worth your audience's time and attention. Even if the valuable content is comprised of information that could be found elsewhere online, you can provide additional value by having curated and compiled it all for your audience.
Easy and quick to consume: In other words, your audience should be able to access it easily and consume it quickly. People are busy and have short attention spans, so businesses need to make sure that their lead magnets are not too time-consuming or complicated. A lead magnet that is easy to consume will encourage the audience to take action and move further down the sales funnel.
A Round-Up of Great Lead Magnet Ideas
There are literally dozens of items you can create and offer as a lead magnet. While most of them will be digital, or virtual, the options are not limited to that. We’ve put together a short list of great lead magnet ideas from a few respectable sources to help stir your creative and strategic muses.
- The Mini E-Book The mini eBook is perfect when you have a series of blog posts about a related subject. For example, you might pick five related posts from your blog to combine into an eBook.
- The “Ultimate Guide” An Ultimate Guide is a comprehensive collection of the best articles about a particular subject. The main difference between this and a mini eBook? You're not recycling posts from your own blog; you're linking directly to other sites.
- The Checklist Instructional blog posts are just waiting to be turned into Checklists -- and they couldn't be easier to create. Just take your blog post and simplify it into a series of bullet points.
- Resource List Lists of resources are really valuable because they are huge time savers. Whenever you pull all of the best stuff together, you’re saving your users a ton of research time.
- Tutorial A tutorial is any piece of content that teaches how to do one specific thing. It could be a video, or simply a PDF download with a numbered list of steps.
- Infographic Infographics are usually the type of content you’d think to use for driving traffic to your site, since they do so well on social media. However, they also work very well as educational lead magnets.
From Crazy Egg:
- Mini courses Your mini course could consist of several elements, such as weekly emails with homework and articles, videos, audio recordings, quizzes, and more.
- Toolkits Think of a toolkit as a lead magnet on steroids. It combines multiple resources into one file — usually a compressed zip file — to create more value.
- Videos Almost 30 percent of all Internet users watch videos on YouTube. Videos are engaging and immersive. They stimulate more of our senses, which is why many people prefer to watch video than, say, read a 40-page e-book.
The types of lead magnets that are most popular in terms of effectiveness tends to shift over the years. During the last few years, however, the top three most effective lead magnet formats were:
E-books or guides: E-books or guides are long-form content that provide in-depth information and actionable insights on a specific topic. They are often in PDF format and can be easily downloaded and read at the recipient's convenience. E-books or guides continue to be a popular and effective lead magnet format because they provide substantial value to the audience and establish the business as a thought leader in their industry.
Webinars or video courses: Webinars or video courses are interactive lead magnets that allow you to connect with your audience in a more personal and engaging way. These formats can be used to provide a visual demonstration of your product or service and allow your audience to ask questions and get immediate answers. Webinars or video courses are also a great way to build trust and establish authority with the audience.
Checklists or templates: Checklists or templates are simple but effective lead magnets that provide a quick and easy solution to a specific problem. They can be in the form of a printable PDF, an online tool, or an editable template. Checklists or templates are popular because they are quick and easy to consume and provide an immediate benefit to the audience.
A Thought On “Evergreen” Lead Magnets
Another useful distinction among the types of possible lead magnets is what is known as an “evergreen” lead magnet. Much like an evergreen blog post – one that is perpetually relevant – evergreen lead magnets can be used for years after they are originally created and uploaded.
Here’s a great definition from Sleeknote.com,
“An evergreen lead magnet is a content upgrade that (1) offers immediate value to the user, (2) invites repeated usage, and (3) is regularly updated to ensure it’s the most up-to-date resource it can be.”
Some examples of this type of lead magnet can include a swipe file, a template library, a lifetime subscription to free software, and checklists.
Sleeknote points out that evergreen lead magnets are highly-effective because:
- They Offer Immediate Value to The User
- They Invite Repeated Usage
- They Stay Evergreen
Which brings up an essential aspect of creating and using an evergreen lead magnet: you need to update or revise it often to ensure it’s still valuable to the user.
Ready To Create Your Lead Magnets?
An effective strategy for creating and employing effective lead magnets is to get outside help.
A digital marketing agency such as BroadVision Marketing can offer expertise and tools that the typical business owner or marketing manager may not have.
In addition, it often helps to have a professional marketer's perspective to assess your overall inbound marketing strategy. Acquiring the insights of a third-party professional is an investment that can bring a quantifiable return.
BroadVision Marketing offers all this and more. Get your Free Complimentary Inbound Marketing Session to help you make an informed decision or call BroadVision Marketing at 707-799-1238.
In the meantime, we invite you to "opt-in" and get this great, free content!