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What is the Best Lead Magnet?

What is a lead magnet -- best lead magnet

A lead magnet is an irresistible offer you give for free in exchange for the prospect giving you their contact information.

If you want to generate more leads for your B2B business, use lead magnets.

Typical lead magnets are ebooks, whitepapers, videos, infographics and similar pieces of content. Lead magnets may also be tools such as calculators, templates, checklists or quizzes.

You’ll often see these offered for free on a website to anyone willing to fill out a “lead form” or subscribe to a newsletter.  The enticing offer — the magnet — beckons.  The only price?  The person has to give up his or her email address, and perhaps a few other bits of contact data.

Lead magnets are one of the most effective ways to attract customers and maximize your number of targeted leads.

Lead magnets are usually seen in B2B (business-to-business) marketing. Consultants, web design professionals, graphics designers and software companies are just some of the types of businesses that use lead magnets.  However, a lead magnet can also be used in business-to-consumer marketing.

What is a Lead Magnet — and What Makes a Great One?

A great lead magnet is something that:

  • Is perceived as high value
  • Solves a specific problem or answers a specific question
  • Provides information or a tool not easy to get elsewhere
  • Delivers instant accessibility, such as a free download
  • Requires the prospect to give up a little (not too much) contact data
  • Leads the prospect to desire more of what you have to offer

Don’t confuse a lead magnet with website content.  Many small businesses have some content on their websites (such as blog posts) to help attract search engine traffic and social media traffic. But that serves a very different purpose.

A lead magnet is designed to attract leads, not traffic. That means it must not be publicly accessible unless and until the person fills out your lead form.  Your lead magnet must be email-gated — a person only receives it once they enter their email address and any other data you collect.

Read on for tips on how to make a great lead magnet.

Be Specific!

A great lead magnet is something the prospect finds valuable — in fact, irresistible.

Lead magnets seem irresistible when they answer the exact question or solve the exact problem a prospect has.  The more specific, the better.

Let’s say you’re a Web designer. No prospect has the time to read a general piece such as “Why you should have a good website.”  Besides, prospects already know they want a good website. No one wants BAD websites, do they?

But give them a “Checklist of 10 Essential Website Features You Must Have” or “The 7 Questions To Ask Before Hiring a Designer” and voila! Suddenly prospects become more interested.  You’re getting closer to irresistible.

  • You’re helping them answer a question (“what features does my website need?”).
  • Or you’re helping them solve a problem (“how to hire a good Web designer”).

See the difference? The latter two examples are much more specific.

Recently I saw a lead magnet that was irresistible to me.  It was from a company called SEMRush, which provides SEO or search engine optimization tools.  The magnet was entitled “The Ultimate Site Audit.”  The focus is on a specific SEO technique:  how to do a website audit.  It’s specific and the description says it will explain all the mistakes to avoid by doing an audit.  (Great! Sounds like just what I need.)

In short, always be specific and narrow in scope.

Target Your Exact Audience

Identifying your target market is essential for a great lead magnet.  Do not try to appeal to the whole world.  Your lead magnet just needs to appeal to your target.

Take, for instance, my example of the SEMRush “Ultimate Site Audit” above.

Now, to anyone who doesn’t know what SEO is, that title would be meaningless.  But that’s irrelevant.  Those people aren’t going to become customers of SEMRush anyway.

Remember, I’m in the target market. I know just enough about SEO to recognize I need help. I’m a potential customer (in fact, a real customer). That topic spoke to me.

That’s all a lead magnet needs to do:  appeal to people who might become your customer.

Also, the topic of the lead magnet must be relevant to your business.  Let’s say you manufacture and sell forklifts.  Customers buy from you because they need forklifts. Don’t create a lead magnet consisting of 10 marketing mistakes to avoid. That topic might be interesting, but how will it encourage anyone to buy from you? Instead, create an ebook on “How to Improve Throughput 30% Through AI-enabled Forklifts” or “10 Mistakes to Avoid When Buying a Forklift Today.”

Provide Information Not Easy to Get

Some entrepreneurs worry that they don’t have material to create a lead magnet. But everyone has something to offer.  Know the value you bring to the table.

Too many entrepreneurs get hung up on the fact that their information is not necessarily 100% unique. They think, ‘But the prospect could find similar information for free online if they spent a few hours and knew where to look.’

Well, you see, the prospect probably doesn’t have hours to search for the information.  And you’re assuming the prospect knows where to look. Many do not.

By presenting information in one convenient package, you are providing something of great value.  You’re saving the prospect hours of research time.

Using the example of the “Ultimate Site Audit” above, yes, it’s possible I could scour every nook and cranny of the Web, read hundreds of articles, and hours later assemble a guide for how to do a site audit. But why should I when it’s already done for me? And available for the low low price of just my name and email address?

More importantly, when you create a good lead magnet, you incorporate your insights. You deliver something YOU know uniquely.

Those insights may well be based on an expensive education. Or they’re based on years of experience as a practitioner in your field or as the expert creator of software.  Or perhaps they incorporate proprietary case studies and datasets you’ve collected.

In other words, you’re leveraging your subject matter expertise for the prospect’s benefit. Your expertise is hard-earned. That has great value.

Create a Tool

So far we’ve focused on lead magnets that are information products, such as an ebook or white paper.

But some of the best lead magnets go beyond information.  Lead magnets can also be free tools.

That tool may save time. It may help analyze data or perform a calculation.  It may simply keep the user on track.

A good lead magnet might consist of a marketing calendar template or a business plan spreadsheet for a particular industry.  It might consist of access to a page with an interactive calculator to provide rule-of-thumb guidance.  It might be a quiz or self-assessment.  It could be a checklist.

Lastly, don’t talk yourself out of an idea based on the fact that someone else could conceivably create that same tool on their own.  Maybe so. But that might take many hours. Think about all of the thoughtful effort that goes into creating a template.

If you’ve perfected a template or tool of any kind, you’ve saved the prospect a lot of time.  They don’t have to spend hours. You’ve done it for them — and that’s valuable.

Offer a Free Sample

Another option answering the question ‘what is a lead magnet?’ is a free sample.

For example, let’s say you sell online software that creates professional client proposals for customers. You might offer a sample or two of client proposals your tool creates.  Simply remove identifying information to protect confidentiality.

Prospects will see the value of what you sell through the sample you offer. And since you’ve collected the lead’s contact information in exchange for the sample, you can follow up with that person.

A variant of the free sample is to offer a mini-course or video series.  Let’s say you are a consultant or a content marketer.  Chances are, you already give away a lot of your knowledge in your blog.  Why not save some of that hard-earned knowledge and package it up as a lead magnet? You could create a short self-guided course with tips that demonstrate your expertise.

Just remember to limit how much knowledge you give away for free.  Keep it to a “sample” so prospects get a taste, not the entire meal.

Use Data to Determine the Best Lead Magnet

If you’re still trying to figure out what lead magnet to create, start by analyzing data.  That may trigger ideas. The goal is to discover what your audience is interested in.

The perfect place to find this data is from your website or blog (assuming you have one).  Examine your Google Analytics to see which topics get the most traffic.  That may tell you something about what your target audience finds interesting.

In addition, look at your social media engagement.  Which topics get the most engagement and shares from your audience?  This is especially helpful at determining titles for your lead magnets.  People on social click on great titles. Boring, bland or broad titles are often ignored.

Also, mine for gold in your past experiences.  What questions have clients asked you?  These questions could make great topics for lead magnets.

Last but certainly not least, conduct keyword research to identify highly searched-on topics.  One of the best tools is the Moz Explorer Keyword Suggestion Tool.  You’ll need to set up a free account there.  Then use the suggestion tool drop-down box to look for suggestions that “are questions.”  Because remember, good lead magnets answer burning questions.

One final point: Avoid making the mistake of trying to pass off a marketing brochure as a lead magnet.  Try to imagine the disappointment of someone expecting the ‘ultimate guide’ on something, only to discover it’s 3 pages of marketing fluff.

Steps to Create a Lead Magnet that Attracts Leads

In summary, a lead magnet is a valuable tool to increase the number of qualified leads from your target market. Follow these 3 steps to answer the question ‘what is a great lead magnet’:

1. Make it irresistible. Design your lead magnet so it’s relevant to your audience.  Answer a specific question or solve a specific problem.  Examine data to choose topics.

2. Deliver what you promise.  Make sure the lead magnet delivers value.  Pack it with useful information and insights relevant to whatever you sell.  Go beyond marketing fluff.

3. Think outside the box.  Not every lead magnet needs to be a white paper or ebook.  Checklists, quizzes, templates, courses and free samples can be even more compelling.


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