Most small businesses don't have a content writer, graphic designer, and publisher ready to pump out lead magnet content to your target audience on a daily basis.
As a small business owner, sometimes you just need something that's better than nothing. And when it comes to growing your e-mail list and online presence, one effective lead magnet might just do the trick.
In this article, we're going to take a look at the the content marketing method with lowest production effort and low maintenance content that can be created and effectively used as a lead magnet, driving organic traffic in 2021 and beyond.
What is a lead magnet?
A lead magnet is an incentive for new site visitors (aka potential customers) to opt into your email list, or become email subscribers. This part of your content marketing strategy can be in the form of an e-book, newsletter, or template relevant to their industry or interests. Lead magnets are commonly used as email list generators, so that you can generate more quality leads for your email marketing materials.
Lead magnets include quality content that is useful to your audience, and relevant to your industry. The content should in some way begin building the client relationship with a clear pathway to generating sales from potential buyers.
There are many possibilities for lead magnets. Here are some of the most popular lead magnets:
- Templates from an industry expert (you)
- An e-book that solves a problem related to the industry
- Webinar access
- Access to a library of resources about subtopics within the industry
- A consultation
- A calculator for project and other investment costs
- Audio training or an audio book
It's worth noting that although a blog post can be a lead magnet and can also gather email addresses through in-context CTA's or pop-ups, blog posts are not what we are referring to by the term 'lead magnet' in this article.
We're talking about content that is specifically made to function as part of a sales funnel, or in other words, in direct connection with a conversion campaign for a specific product or service. The goal is to turn high-quality leads into customers through targeted content marketing efforts.
What makes a good lead magnet?
Measuring the success of a lead magnet is fairly straightforward. There are three main measurements worth taking:
- How much money do you have to spend to gain one lead? Often called CPA (cost per acquisition)
- How useful is the lead magnet to your ideal customer?
- Is the lead magnet scalable?
At the end of the day, your lead magnet exists to help your ideal customer solve problems. If it's doing that, and your CPA is low, then you've got a successful lead magnet.
It's harder to answer the "how useful is this content" question, but you can usually determine this by analyzing the social proof surrounding the piece: are your current customers and potential leads sharing it? Talking about it? Then the content is likely valuable to your customer journey.
Scalable — you might get a few positive responses when you send the content to your closest customers. But how far out into your world of potential customers can it provide value? That's the question that really determines whether the magnet is attracting what it should.
Why should every small business have at least one lead magnet?
Even though generating qualified leads happens at the top of the marketing funnel, an effective lead magnet can translate directly to increased revenue. Lead magnets are a great way to establish a strong foundation with future clients, and nurture those foundations to generate sales.
Here are some of the benefits of including at least one effective lead magnet in your marketing plan:
- Grow your email list, which over time can become a key revenue source for your businessAdd depth to customer experienceExpand your list of potential clients through sharing and word of mouth
- Grow your email list, which over time can become a key revenue source for your business
- Add depth to customer experience
- Expand your list of potential clients through sharing and word of mouth
Marketing experts know what generation strategies work best for small and medium businesses in every industry. Of the top 3 methods for lead generation, two out of three are lead magnets (webinars and eBooks, respectively).
Once your lead magnet is up and running, your marketing team should start tracking data immediately to make sure these methods work best for your business.
Here are some highly effective, low effort lead magnet ideas to kickstart your lead cycle:
Lead magnet idea 1: Checklists
Expected time input: 3-4 hours
Number of pages: 1
Checklists are the one of the easiest lead magnet that you can create, and they can be truly useful for those that could use your expertise. They provide your customer with a list of items that should be completed at each phase of some specific activity.
The activity should be something relevant to your future client, that they and their team/friends/co-workers can use for best practice guidance.
The idea here is that although they might not be buying your product or service, they are entrusting themselves to your brand and thought leadership, there for making themselves a warm lead. Whether they know it or not, you have just become one of their go-to sources in your industry by providing valuable content. This is one way to eventually turn visitors into loyal customers.
Example: An organic lawn care company offering a checklist for fall lawn maintenance that includes tools, steps, and and pro-tips for each step of the process.
Why this example would work: People that follow an organic lawn care company like Green Roots Organic are interested in having a flourishing lawn, but may not be interested in purchasing services to reach that end goal.
Why this makes sense for an organic lawn care business: So, they didn't buy your services this Fall and decided to do it themselves. But, they did decide to trust your brand, ideas, and communication to take care of their lawn. Who do you think will be first of mind when Spring comes around? You guessed it.
Lead magnet idea 2: A program plan
Expected time input: 8-12 hours
Number of pages: 10-12 pages
Program plans can give the potential client an idea of the full product or service offered. The free introduction to your brand is likely to answer their questions about what to expect from your business, and eliminate buying hesitancy by building trust.
Program plans create transparency in your service and help establish trust with your brand. They also give you an opportunity to showcase your expertise, while collecting enough info to generate a client profile and establish communication.
Example: A personal trainer looking to build new client relationships offers a customized 8-week training program after the site visitor fills out a short questionnaire.
Why this example would work: A lot of people want to change their overall health, and don't know where to start. This gives them the materials they need, but won't provide the motivation, discipline, or personal accountability to get there. They'll need to hire a trainer for that.
Why this makes sense for a personal fitness company: It's relatively simple for an experienced fitness brand to generate an 8-week program from basic client information like height/weight, fitness goals, and certain lifestyle data. But the truth is, many personal training clients hire a trainer not only for structured workouts, but for pro-tips and someone to hold them accountable. The introductory program will empower clients with information about what they should be doing in the gym, but only the sessions they book with a trainer will help them follow through. It can also encourage them to interact with your other online educational materials, turning visitors into subscribers.
Lead magnet idea 3: Coupon or discount
Expected time input: 1-2 hours
Number of pages: N/A
Coupons and discounts give site visitors and your target market incentives to test the waters with your brand. Coupons should be relevant to the audience and be used to generate revenue within the timeframe that's bets for your business.
This example translates directly to a sale for your business. It's a good opportunity to move inventory that isn't as popular as you expected it to be, or to introduce a new range of products.
Example: A restaurant offers a 50% off coupon or free dessert for guests on their birthdays, and targets Facebook users whose birthdays are within the next 30 days.
Why this example would work: People love to save money, and coupons are a great way to get first time buyers in the door. In many cases, the buyer will also purchase more than the coupon incentive, or become familiar with products they want to purchase in the future.
Why this makes sense for a restaurant: The restaurant industry has notoriously slow seasons throughout the year, particularly after the holiday season and through January and February. This is a great way to drive sales through the slow seasons, and help maintain the tipped wages that service staff depend on. It's also a great way to move surpluses of product that you'd like to discontinue or replace with other seasonal items.
Lead magnet idea 4: Introductory Consultation or audit
Expected time input: This depends on the industry and depth of audit/consultation
Number of pages: N/A
An consultation or audit helps you build a good client profile and collect contact information in exchange for an introduction to your services. It gives the potential client an idea of the way you conduct business, and the scope of your services.
Your business should cover the scope of services that a client may need after an audit or consultation reveals weaknesses in the client's current methods.
Example: An auto mechanic will give you a completely transparent car audit to tell you about current issues, services that will be due soon, and preventative maintenance options.
Why this example would work: What might be simple and straightforward for an industry expert to assess might take a lot more time and legwork for the average consumer. Consultations give your brand the opportunity to volunteer your expertise and toolkit in exchange for contact information and the foundations of a new client relationship.
Why this makes sense for a mechanic shop: Auto mechanic shops already have all the tools and experts to make an audit a quick and easy project. While the shop has computer diagnostic tools, garage space, experience, and the lifts to easily assess the parts of a car that will affect performance and inspections, the driver probably doesn't. The shop performs a service quickly and more accurately, and the driver gets to "test out" the professionalism of the business before spending any money.
Lead magnets remain one of the most effective ways to not only generate new leads, but begin nurturing new client relationships within your ideal audience. In a consumer-informed business world, online customers expect value for their interest, and like to build familiarity with the brands they choose to interact with.
Remember that the best lead magnet for your business depends on your audience. Different audiences respond and find value in different types of content. Know your audience and have a clear idea how you'll turn new leads into nurtured client-brand relationships.
What are other examples of lead magnets?
Some other examples include recipes, "secret" industry insights, access to an exclusive group, polls, surveys, email courses, white paper access, video courses, feedback forms, quizzes, library access and printable cheat sheets or posters for complex topics of instruction. Anything that might be useful to your audience and pertinent to your industry can be good lead magnet material.
What's the conversion rate for lead magnets?
This varies from business to business, industry to industry. It's hard to put a number on the conversion rate for lead magnets, but safe to say those rates become higher with more relevant and useful content. This also depends on the reliability of your conversion path, which your marketing team can assess for you.
How can I influence the quality of my leads?
Ensuring the lead magnet pertains to the industry and will eventually lead to a nurtured relationship and sale is important. Make sure the lead magnet is relevant to your industry. It doesn't make sense for a hardwood flooring company to offer free cupcake recipes, and wouldn't likely lead to customer acquisition.
How do I know if my lead magnet content will be relevant to my audience?
The answer is simple: know your audience. Know what your target audience and ideal customer looks like, and understand patterns in existing traffic and social media interaction with your audience. Understanding buyer personas and what your customer base values about your industry and product will help with that, so will building client profiles with existing customers.