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What is a Lead Magnet and How to Create One?

Imagine you own a bakery. You bake delicious cupcakes and cookies. But not enough people know about your tasty treats yet.

You could spend money on ads. But ads can be expensive. And there’s no guarantee customers will buy right away.

Instead, you set up a table outside your bakery. On it is a sign saying “Free Cookie Sample.” Passersby see the sign and happily take a free cookie. They bite into it, love it, and then head into your bakery to buy more.

Giving away those free cookie samples is like using a lead magnet. A lead magnet attracts and captures leads by offering something valuable for free.

Why Lead Magnets Work

A lead magnet works because it uses the principle of reciprocity. When you give someone something for free, they feel like they should give you something in return.

For example, by giving someone a free sample of your baking, they are more likely to buy from your bakery later.

Using lead magnets is an effective way to:

  • Get more leads and potential customers
  • Show people the value of what you offer
  • Build trust and relationships that lead to sales

Examples of Lead Magnets

Anything given away for free to capture leads can be a lead magnet. But the most effective lead magnets share some key qualities:

They Offer Genuine Value

A good lead magnet gives people something useful for free, not just an ad or promotion for your business.

For example, an accounting firm could offer a free guide to doing your own taxes. The guide helps people while positioning the accounting firm as tax experts.

They Capture Contact Information

To reuse the lead, you need a way to contact them later. So good lead magnets require an email address or phone number to access them.

An e-book or email course may need an email to send it to. A free consultation might require a name and phone number to schedule a call.

They Align With Your Offering

The lead magnet should be closely related to what you sell, even if not an outright sales pitch.

For the bakery, cookies and cupcakes match what they sell. But something random like logo stickers would seem out of place.

Popular Types of Lead Magnets

  • Ebooks/Whitepapers – In-depth guides with useful info.
  • Email Courses – Deliver a series of emails with advice.
  • Free Trials – Let people try products or services.
  • Discount Coupons – Offer savings to bring people back.
  • Checklists/Cheat Sheets – Simplify complex processes.
  • Calculators/Quizzes – Help them analyze needs.
  • Templates – Provide useful starting documents.
  • Video Courses – Helpful educational content.

With many options, what lead magnet you choose depends greatly on your business.

An email course could work well for a web design firm while a calculator may be better suited for financial planning. Test different lead magnets to see what attracts the most leads in your niche.

How to Create an Effective Lead Magnet

If you want your own lead magnet to succeed at bringing in leads, keep these best practices in mind while developing it:

1. Identify Your Goals

Be clear from the start on what you want your lead magnet to achieve. Common goals include:

  • Get more email subscribers
  • Generate sales inquiries
  • Book free consultations
  • Bring visitors to your website

When you know the purpose, you can shape it to optimize towards that goal from the beginning.

2. Provide Genuine Value

Focus on creating truly useful and helpful content so leads get value from your lead magnet. Useful lead magnets also build trust and goodwill.

For example, an interior design firm could create a guide on space-saving tips rather than just promoting themselves.

3. Choose the Right Format

Which format suits your goals and content best? Some options to consider:

  • Email Course – For more complex topics sent over several emails
  • Ebooks – Explainer guides that go deeper into a topic
  • Templates – If you want to provide them useful documents to sample and reuse
  • Calculators – Help analyze or estimate costs and needs
  • Checklists – Simplify complex processes into easy steps

Evaluate whether it’s better as a one-off asset or a series sent over time.

4. Make it Skimmable

Online readers don’t read word-for-word. Use scannable formatting like:

  • Short paragraphs
  • Numbered lists
  • Bold section headings
  • Infographics
  • Spaced-out text

This makes it easy to scan and digest.

5. Keep it Short

Attention spans online are short. Keep your lead magnet focused and below key length thresholds:

  • Ebooks around 20-35 pages
  • Email courses with 5-7 short emails
  • Individual emails under 750 words
  • Checklists/templates fit on one page

Leave them wanting more rather than getting overwhelmed upfront.

6. Land the Offer

To get leads, be clear what you want visitors to do, like:

  • Enter email to download ebook
  • Book a call
  • Start free trial
  • Use special discount code

Have a clear call-to-action button or sign-up form ready for them take the next step.

7. Promote Your Lead Magnet

Creating a lead magnet is the first step. To get it leads, actively promote it on:

  • Your website
  • Social media
  • Paid ads
  • Email lists
  • Industry websites

This drives more potential customers to download your offer and turn into sales leads.

Turning Leads into Customers

Creating an amazing lead magnet gets leads in the door. But you still need to convert those leads into actual paying customers.

Here are key ways to nurture leads for higher conversion:

Follow Up Promptly

Follow up within 24 hours whenever someone downloads your lead magnet. Quick follow-up shows responsiveness.

Send a thank you email confirming access. Or call to schedule any offered consultation.

Continue Nurturing Leads

Don’t stop at the initial follow-up. Develop email and content sequences to continually nurture leads.

Send a series of helpful advice tailored to their needs based on info collected upfront through your lead magnet signup process.

Mix educational content with occasional special offers to intrigue leads to buy.

Remind Them of the Offer

If a lead isn’t ready to purchase yet, gently remind them of your offer over time so it stays top of mind.

Reach back out with:

  • Targeted sales emails
  • Retargeting ads
  • Social media messages

Offer Added Value

Offer time-limited bonuses or discounts for lead magnet signups to incentivize quicker purchase.

Special savings or gifts make leads feel rewarded for their original opt-in.

Deliver 5-Star Service

When leads convert to customers, wow them by overdelivering on value.

Focus on understanding their needs to deliver helpful solutions rather than quick sales.

This earns 5-star reviews and referrals to acquire more leads over time.

In your bakery, handing out yummy cookie samples grabs attention. But once leads come inside, you still need outstanding cakes and service to truly satisfy.

Lead magnets attract leads, while customer experience closes sales and keeps them coming back.

The Takeaway

As the bakery example shows, lead magnets “hook” potential customers to capture new leads for your business.

They work by offering something valuable for free in exchange for contact information you can retarget in the future.

Choose lead magnet formats and offers tailored to your business, audience needs, and conversion goals. Useful, relevant lead magnet content drives higher opt-ins versus pure sales pitches.

Once leads come in, nurture them with helpful follow-up content that encourages eventual purchase. Great customer experiences also earn referrals to acquire leads more organically over time.

Thoughtfully planned and well-executed lead magnets can help small businesses scale growth in a cost-efficient way. Rather than paying constantly for new ads, a steady stream of qualified leads come directly to you over time.

So what are you waiting for? Develop that irresistible “free cookie” offer perfect to attract more leads for your niche today!

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