What’s a Lead Magnet and Do You Really Need One?

Lead Magnet. Opt in. Free gift.

Whatever you wanna call it, they all do the same thing. They’re a way of giving people something in return for their email address.

Let me tell you a story. When I joined my previous business Dotti Media in April 2014, we had a list of 45 people. Not bad for a business that previously built their list through networking events and a ‘sign up for my newsletter’ style of subscriber box on the website. A few months later my business partner and I launched our first mini e-course ‘7 Days to Ignite your Facebook Page’. We launched the course and had 56 people signed up in two months. In addition to that we were running workshops, speaking at networking events and working with clients. By the end of 2014 our list had grown to 192.

Enter 2015.

We knew we wanted to create and launch an online course. We knew we wanted it to be about using Instagram for Business and we knew we needed to find a whole lot of people who were using Instagram to find out that we knew our stuff. That’s when we created a free Instagram Cheat Sheet to help businesses break down some of the barriers that held them back when it came to starting on Instagram.

Our Instagram Cheat Sheet included a checklist, 27 post ideas and a posting schedule. We promoted it using Instagram, our website and using Facebook Ads. When we launched our course in July 2015 we had 577 people that were interested in using Instagram for their business and who knew who we were.

The reason? They’d been attracted by our Cheat Sheet lead magnet.
I know that our ‘numbers’ aren’t in the tens of thousands. But chances are if you’re reading this now, yours probably aren’t either. You might have a subscriber list of 100 or 1000, or you might be thinking about creating a list. You might be where we were last year, wanting to grow your list of subscribers to build your business online and maybe launch an online course, ebook or webinar series.

So where do you start?

Your lead magnet is your way of attracting people to sign up to ‘be on your list’. It’s about solving one of their problems and proving to them that you have the answer to this problem. Your lead magnet needs to be so attractive to your website visitors (aka potential customers) that they just have to enter their email to receive it.
You may have heard the online marketing saying ‘the money is in your list’. Your fans and followers on social media are subject to regular algorithm changes depending on the platform, however when someone has signed up to your email list, you’ve now got their email address. This is a direct line of communication with them and no one can take it away from you. It’s then your job to turn them into customers and clients.

What should your lead magnet be?

Everyone’s lead magnet is different because everyone’s business is different. Your lead magnet needs to solve a specific problem for your specific audience. You really don’t want to make more problems for your audience and cause them to get confused. Nor do you want to try and solve all their problems so that they don’t need you. A good lead magnet will give your audience a quick win and help them understand that you know your stuff.

Good lead magnets

  • Solve a problem for people
  • Are easy to understand
  • Are used as a way of starting a conversation with people that you can continue in regular email updates
  • Offer a quick win

Bad lead magnets

  • Pose more questions than answers
  • Make more problems for people
  • Don’t change the state or knowledge of someone
  • Are hard to read or print due to over the top formatting

Where can you find ideas for your lead magnet?

  • Customer interaction – what questions do your customers always seem to ask you
  • Facebook Groups – read through what questions people are asking to do with your industry
  • Amazon book reviews – read the reviews for books in your industry, what have people said they wanted to know more about that wasn’t covered
  • Influencer Facebook/Instagram pages – what are people always asking ‘leaders in your field’

Once you have an idea, simplify it.

Too often people want to deliver not just the cart and the horse with their lead magnet, they want to deliver the cart and horse parade with their lead magnet.

Remember the key elements of a lead magnet are

  • Solve a specific problem for a specific audience
  • Easy to understand
  • A quick win
  • Making less work for your potential customers (not more)

What format should your lead magnet be?

Once you’ve got an idea of what people want, you’ll need to come up with the best way to deliver it.
Think about your potential customer. How much time do they have? Would they prefer a checklist that they can print out and cross off, or are they the type of person who wants to read a short ebook? Does what you’re offering need a couple of days to take effect? Then a short 7 Day ecourse could be for you.
It’s all about delivering the lead magnet in a way they can understand and take action on.

Simple ways to deliver a lead magnet include

  • Checklist
  • Cheatsheet
  • Free short ebook
  • Guide
  • Video series
  • Mini-course or training
  • Quiz
  • Free trial
  • A discount*

*Discounts work well for product based businesses

There are a ton of other lead magnet ideas out there, however it’s best to go with a format of lead magnet that people know and are used to. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Your goal with a lead magnet is to make it attractive enough for someone to take action, enter their email address and for you to deliver on your promise.

Do not let format hold you back when it comes to a lead magnet, and do not get hung up on design. We’ve made most of our lead magnets using word, emails and Youtube videos. The cost to us was only our time.

Once you’ve created you lead magnet, what do you do with it?

First you’ll need to use your email marketing software such as MailChimp to set this up. Remember, we’re doing this to build your email subscriber list so you’ll want to use a way of capturing email addresses. You’ll need to create a form which you then add to pages or the sidebar on your website or create a specific landing page.
There are a number of different places where you can put your sign up form:
  • Embed it on to a page on your website
  • Add a plugin to your website and put it in the sidebar
  • Use a pop up plugin such as Gleam.io
  • Create a landing page using LeadPages
Here’s a couple of extra places to add your sign up form that you might not have thought of:
  • At the bottom of blog posts
  • On your About page
  • On your Contact page
  • On your Facebook Page
  • As the link in your Instagram bio
For more detailed technical information on how to set up your lead magnet on your website or landing page, you might want to engage help from the team at WP Curve.

So your lead magnet is ready to go…

Now you just need to get people to sign up! Sounds easy doesn’t it? You’ve got a bit of traffic to your website so they’re bound to see where you’ve carefully placed your lead magnet forms.
Unfortunately not everyone who visits your website is going to sign up for your lead magnet so you’re going to have to send some extra traffic directing people to do just that.