Success may, at times, seem effortless, but we know firsthand how difficult it can be to expand your audience in a way that translates to revenue growth. Today’s start-up environment, coupled with digital transformation and our ever-shortening attention span, makes it all the more important to be intentional about lead generation, particularly when venturing into the cold market. To this end, great lead magnets are particularly beneficial.
Lead magnets bridge the gap between the unknown and the known: your elusive website visitor becomes John Smith, a quirky marketing exec working at Company Inc., who openly hands in his contact details in exchange for a resource that he perceives as valuable. You can then get in touch with John and introduce your business in a more relevant, personable manner. That’s the beauty of this marketing tool: when done right, it can turn metrics into authentic interactions.
Our article will introduce you to the fundamentals of lead magnets and provide useful examples and resources that worked wonders for companies near and far. One essential thing to remember is that lead magnets are pretty non-specific and can be successfully used in various industries. Seeing how at Proof we work extensively with non-profits, schools, and commercial property developers, we’ll focus our examples on these industries.
What Is a Lead Magnet?
According to Investopedia, a lead magnet is a free item or service that you provide in order to obtain contact details. This tactic is particularly relevant for the lead generation spectrum of your marketing strategy, where you want to identify the prospects most likely to convert and interact with your business.
When it comes to growing your customer base, you can either go for what’s close to home and concentrate on word-of-mouth and referrals, or you can broaden your horizons and contemplate the vastity that is the cold market: people who have never heard of you, but who can potentially benefit from what you offer. This can be anything from school enrollments to a new product offering to specialized training courses and open house tours.
Lead Magnets and Cold Outreach
Penetrating the cold market takes skill and strategy. It’s significantly more challenging than interacting with warm leads for two reasons: firstly, your relationship with cold prospects is missing an essential element that streamlines rapport – trust, and secondly, the cold market is ruthlessly hyper-competitive: everyone wants a piece of the cold cake, and they’re trying all the tricks in the book to get it.
There are various ways to garner the attention of cold prospects, with inbound marketing being one of the most effective. Through inbound marketing practices, you go out of your way to build that much-needed rapport and strive to be genuinely helpful, address pain points, and meet audience needs without the expectation of immediate returns. Simply put, you offer your help for the sake of being helpful. In time, this will translate to more people noticing you, trusting you, and ultimately, engaging with your business.
One of the pillars of inbound marketing is content, and the surest way to maximize content ROI is to turn your best content resources into lead magnets: from ebooks to infographics and industry reports, making your content downloadable will bring you one step closer to the lead list of your dreams.
Sounds relatively easy, doesn’t it?
Enter problem no. 2 of cold outreach – competition. Nowadays, everybody is putting out lead magnets, and the market is oversaturated with resources that add little to no value, designed for the sole purpose of generating leads. Consequently, quality is more important than ever. The rest is bound to follow.
The Foolproof Lead Magnet Recipe
There are as many lead magnet formats as there are stars in the sky (well, not really, but Optinmonster rounds up 69 lead magnet ideas for starters). The world is your oyster in terms of approach, but make sure that you keep in mind the following guidelines:
Add Real Value
Understand your audience and home in on resources that add real value to their business. Be specific and ensure that your lead magnets build on existing content without delivering identical copy or format (i.e., create an ebook with the same content as a blog post, or with only minor additions). In the absence of a marketing persona, an excellent way to kickstart your lead generation efforts is to ask recurring customers about their pain points and about what their informational landscape seems to be missing. Take Yodelpop’s ultimate guide to non-profit content marketing: the resource presents content marketing essentials, such as SEO and strategy, in a way that underlines their relevance in a non-profit setting and provides clear-cut examples of non-profit content pillars.
A good way to ensure that you’re being specific is to make your case through the lens of the industry you are trying to reach. At Proof, for example, we work with numerous charter schools, so we’ve put together a resource that teaches them how a strong brand can help increase funding, recruit top-tier talent, and improve enrollment.
Invest in Evergreen Lead Magnets
Great lead magnets stay evergreen. Sleeknote wrote a comprehensive article about evergreen lead magnets, with the gist of it being that they offer immediate value and invite repeated usage. Evergreen lead magnets should be regularly updated to ensure that the information is constantly fresh, relevant, and in line with user intent. For example, schools could invest in evergreen workshops or training courses to bolster enrollment rates and support their overarching mission of educating the young. ImpactTulsa, for instance, a non-profit specialized in improving the outcomes of Tulsa-area children, offers a variety of resources meant to make FAFSA completion more accessible. From FAQs to flyers and even a step-by-step FAFSA completion calendar for counselors, their relevancy makes these resources evergreen.
Don’t be afraid to be creative. Taking a calculated creative risk will enable you to stand out from the crowd and ensure that you deliver on your promises without generating oversaturated content formats. Few things hurt a business’ reputation more than overpromising, so make sure you don’t jeopardize your status for the sake of capturing a few leads. To this end, M/I Homes have put together a quiz that helps future homeowners find their dream house. After answering a few questions about renderings, visitors are introduced to their ideal home, are invited to take a virtual tour of dwellings that meet their requirements, and are put in touch with a real estate agent who can provide additional guidance. Pretty sweet, right?
Advertise Your Lead Magnets
Social media platforms are a fantastic place to advertise and increase the perceived value of your resources. Linkedin, for example, took lead magnet promotion to a new level and created Linkedin lead gen forms, an ad extension that attaches a lead capture form to ads, all the while measuring relevant metrics such as reach, conversion, form completion rate, and more. What’s great about this feature is that it requires minimal input from prospects, as the forms are prefilled with Linkedin profile data, making the process as frictionless as possible. The downside to Linkedin ads is their cost – they’re one of the priciest PPC options out there, so make sure to go all-in on your targeting if you decide to give them a try. You can find a helpful guide to setting up Linkedin ads and lead generation forms on Social Media Examiner.
Suppose you’re a little self-conscious about your budget. In that case, you can try Facebook ads, particularly if you plan to reach a wider audience or if you’re targeting consumers (Linkedin is primarily B2B focused). Facebook also offers an Instant Form option that allows users to fill in their contact information. While it’s not quite as frictionless as the one provided by Linkedin, it still offers a more seamless experience than a third-party landing page. You can learn how to set up a Facebook lead generation campaign here.
What’s the point of going through all this trouble if you don’t follow up? Once you receive your lead’s contact information, it’s time to start the nurture game. Consistent and personalized follow-ups are necessary to keep your brand relevant until your prospects are ready to engage. But this doesn’t mean you should send them weekly – or worse – daily newsletters or unrequested promotional flyers. Far from it! Introduce yourself, then check in and ask if they need help. Send them a resource that you feel would be relevant, and maybe some information about an industry event that’s up their alley. Be patient and available, and treat your prospects with the respect they deserve.
If you have a sizeable lead pool that doesn’t allow you to personally follow up, you can consider email marketing tools such as Mailchimp or Mailerlite and automate your messages. A good rule of thumb is to segment your audience based on overarching characteristics (industry, profession, interests, etc.) and tailor your drip sequences accordingly.
While great lead magnets play a big role in your long-term lead generation game, don’t forget that they go hand in hand with the other dimensions of your website, such as UI/UX design and content strategy. Make sure to add your lead magnets to fully optimized landing pages, monitor their performance, and update them regularly to reap the benefits of your lead generation strategy. Let us know how it works out, will you? We’re rooting for you!