Guest post by Priyanka Desai.
Even as newer and fancier ways to market your business crop up every season, old-school email marketing continues to provide the highest ROI, at a whopping $42 for every $1 of expenditure. No wonder building an email list remains a priority for businesses of every type and industry.
To attract more email opt-ins, you need to offer an incentive that’s valuable and unique. This is where lead magnets come in, as an integral part of email marketing.
What is a lead magnet?
A lead magnet is typically a content piece that marketers offer to potential buyers as an incentive in return for contact information. It could take the form of a free downloadable resource such as a report, eBook, checklist, video, or a pre-recorded webinar series.
Email addresses are personal information, and neither consumers nor B2B buyers will provide them unless you offer something compelling in return. Here, lead magnets with useful and relevant content come in handy for businesses of all sizes and industries.
However, creating a great lead magnet is about much more than just piecing together some free content. You need to make it irresistible for your customers.
This guide details what makes for a great lead magnet, and ideas for inspiration to help build your email list.
What makes a good lead magnet?
Lead magnets should live up to the promise embedded in their name—acting as magnets for potential leads to come to your business. The best lead magnets have six features in common.
1. They solve a real problem
A lead magnet should be designed to address a real problem that your target buyer persona is facing. It needs to offer them a solution for their pain points.
2. Have highly specific content
Be specific rather than sharing vague content. Take the example of Mailshake’s LinkedIn prospecting tool that they offer as a lead magnet.
Mailshake’s sales and automation software is used by salespeople, who may also use LinkedIn Sales Navigator. This free LinkedIn search tool is tapping into LinkedIn users who do not have access to the paid “Sales Navigator.”
3. Demonstrate your expertise
Anyone reading your lead magnet content should be able to recognize your expertise and unique value proposition instantly. They should be prompted to engage with you.
4. Achieve a quick win
The lead magnet should promise and deliver one immediate win for your reader and bring value to them. That tip does not have to be enormous. Even a small suggestion that the reader can apply immediately can bring you a converted buyer or an interested sales prospect.
The content should be structured in a manner that is easy to read and digest. Checklists, videos, or highly visual data-rich report downloads tend to work better than long whitepapers or eBooks for that reason (though longer white papers can still work well in highly technical B2B sales).
6. Can be instantly accessed
Content that gets instantly downloaded or sent to the reader’s inbox works much better than content they need to wait or work too hard for. For instance, shorter contact forms (asking for just a name or email address) have a higher conversion rate than longer forms asking for more personal details.
11 Must-try lead magnet ideas to grow your email list
Different types of lead magnets work better than others depending on which industry you operate in and the characteristics of your target audience.
The first step to designing an effective lead magnet is understanding what kind of content and the format your audience prefers reading.
- Do they prefer bite-sized lessons delivered over a few days or weeks?
- Do they like longer downloadable resources they can read at their leisure?
- Do they prefer video/audio/visual content over written pieces?
Once you have these preferences nailed down, pick from among multiple lead magnet formats proven to work. Here are 11 ideas to incorporate into your email marketing strategy.
1. Referral programs
A great way to add more subscribers to your email list is by taking the help of your existing subscribers. Dropbox does it all the time. On referring others, it gives their customers 500MB of additional storage space for free per referral.
With a compelling referral program, you incentivize your followers to share your offers or sign-up with their family and friends by giving them a discount coupon, gift, or other enticing rewards.
Generally, people accept recommendations from their network more readily than advertising by the brand. A referral program that encourages happy customers to recommend your brand to their network draws in new customers whom you may not be able to reach otherwise. What’s more, referral programs make your customers feel they’re a “part of the community.” Because they are earned, referral rewards are the best form of rewards.
Incentivize your loyal customers with a compelling referral program. You can automate the referral program using a tool like Xoxoday Plum, right from your CRM.
This is particularly suitable for eCommerce businesses with an active social media following. Hosting a giveaway on Facebook or Instagram is a great way to encourage your followers to engage with your brand. The low cost per click means that you can advertise your giveaway at a reasonably level of expenditure.
Brainstorm some tried-and-tested ideas, such as a sweepstake where contestants only need to add some information ranging from email addresses to comments, tagging, photos and sharing the post. Select an attractive giveaway, though. It should compel the consumers to share their email addresses with you.
For example, Dove’s “Real beauty should be shared” contest on Facebook asked fans to fill in the blank with photos. Fans had to tell them why their friend represents “Real Beauty” by mentioning their friend’s name and giving two reasons that make them beautiful.
Another critical point to remember is that your reward should be aimed towards your target audience so that the people who enter are more likely to be qualified leads.
In the case of Dove’s ad, the reward was winners getting to become the next faces of Dove.
Challenges are a fun and useful type of lead magnet where you help your customer achieve a specific goal within a specified period of time.
This involves sending out a series of tips over a few days or weeks with clear action points about how to achieve a specific goal, thereby increasing their chances of quickly seeing results from your lead magnet and becoming your loyal customer.
Here’s an example from Sleeknote for a free challenge to run 10K in 30 days. Upon signing up, they send you weekly tips to stay motivated.
In addition, depending on the lead magnet they opted for, segment your email list. Using customer relationship software such as EngageBay CRM, you can deliver personalized content based on the buyer’s journey.
These are perhaps one of the most powerful lead magnets for businesses in every industry. The PDF is specific in its intent, easily downloadable and printable, easy-to-use, and gets results.
For example, if you have a platform like Hyax that allows you to sell digital courses, products, and memberships, you could create a PDF checklist on “10 tips to get more sales and downloads for your online course.”
Hyax has another guide on 21 online revenue streams that act as a lead magnet and is strategically placed above every blog post to attract signups.
Design your checklist around a compelling goal that your customers would like to achieve within a specific timeframe. This could include a one-month plan for things to do before launching a new eCommerce business, developing a documented blogging plan, or even strategizing marketing activities for a specific business. The potential is endless.
Plus, checklists work for both B2B and B2C businesses.
Printable worksheets are great for consumers who like the idea of holding something tangible. The best worksheets are results-oriented, as it helps users develop a plan by writing out what they have to, such as creating a business model.
HubSpot does a great job with its marketing-oriented workbooks. Have you ever downloaded its content development templates? They are incredibly detailed and cover all the nuances of inbound content marketing.
Plus, if you are looking to get your entire marketing team to sit and brainstorm (even if it happens virtually), nothing beats writing down ideas on paper. That leads to greater clarity and offers a more interactive experience to the user.
Make your eBooks more accessible and digestible by keeping them short, visually appealing, and promising a specific win.
Digital marketing agency Adaptify adds a relevant eBook as a lead magnet on service pages.
Businesses that are in the B2B and SaaS sectors can benefit significantly by producing eBooks consistently. People are becoming more attracted to eBooks, with user penetration expected to hit 11.8% by 2022.
For eCommerce brands, a coupon works as an excellent lead magnet as the people visiting your sign-up page already have an interest in the products you offer.
Giving them a coupon to use your product can be just the incentive they need to happily provide you with their email address.
Society6, an online home decor shop, offers 10% off on the first order. It promotes this offer through a pop-up on the website.
When you enter your email address, the pop-up reflects the coupon code you can use to make a purchase. Of course, terms and conditions apply. But this is a powerful way to collect email addresses.
Quizzes are a fun and popular way to engage your audience. You can use this lead magnet to help your target customers narrow down on a decision they want to make, such as where to go for their next vacation or the best crockpot recipe for their next Sunday dinner.
You can even do personality quizzes the way BuzzFeed does. Even though it does not ask for email addresses, its content is inspiring and can work well for entertainment, home decor, lifestyle, and similar industries.
Here’s Airbnb’s Trip Matchmaker Quiz aimed to wake up the inactive shopper and push them to purchase.
One of the advantages of conducting a quiz is that if it is attractive to the target audience, you will get the right kind of people to sign up and participate. Plus, there is no need to offer a prize or a giveaway when asking people to participate.
A mere announcement on your social media channels can sometimes be sufficiently rewarding to increase participation levels.
9. Free Trials
If your brand offers a software product, a free trial is a perfect way to get prospective customers to check it out. Design the offer as a pop-up when your customers are about to leave your page, and make sure you only require the minimum amount of information from them (email address and name) before they can access the free trial.
Here’s how sales execution CRM and marketing automation software LeadSquared does it.
Kajabi, a marketplace for creating and selling online courses, offers a free 14-day trial of their platform.
Similarly, SnackNation offers a free sample box of its products. Website visitors just have to share their contact details to take advantage of the offer.
Downloadable planners are ideal for helping your customers become more productive, which everybody loves. These are also ideal for designing in line with your website’s branding. CoSchedule, for instance, offers attractive editorial content planners for marketers.
Visual content including brand story, “talking head,” and explainer videos have a high perceived value and help create a stronger emotional connection between you and your customer. Your customers want to know the people behind the brands they love, and videos allow you to get personal.
The best part is you can shoot candid videos right from your phone.
If you sell software, you can make tutorials helping your customers navigate through it, or you can pick up an industry topic and build a series of videos on that. Another approach is using customer testimonial videos as a lead generation tool.
QuickSprout once ran a video course on how to double website traffic in 30 days, years ago. They included an opt-in email form on the sidebar of every page to drive maximum engagement.
Don’t forget to add a link to your email signature.
Many marketers miss out on this straightforward tactic. It might not immediately get you many subscribers, but it is an easy way to promote your content to anyone you are sending an email to.
Add an eye-catching email signature that links to the sign-up form for your website or blog so that anyone interested can immediately get access to your content.
Summing it up
Hopefully the above-mentioned lead magnet ideas are an inspiration for the type of content you can offer to your potential customers. If you want them to share their email addresses to help build your opt-in list, provide them with something of value—without pressure or a hard sell.
Experiment with these ideas for your business, and keep producing content consistently.
Priyanka Desai is the founder of iScribblers, a content marketing agency for B2B, technology and SaaS companies.