What is a Lead Magnet? Hint: Your Sales Funnel is Broken Without It

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Our first year in business, I woke up every day at 6 a.m. to write content for our blog.

I sat in front of the screen, fingers to keyboard, coffee cooling to my right.

I made a list of blog post titles relevant to our target audience. I turned those titles into outlines. And those outlines into articles.

After one month, I had grown our website’s traffic to 5,000 visits.

And while it felt good to see those numbers, I was battling exhaustion from the hamster wheel I was spinning.

But honestly, those numbers were just page views. The company didn’t bring in more customers than the month before.

And our bank account wasn’t growing either.

All of that effort, and for what?

Years later, I learned it wasn’t what we were doing, but what we weren’t.

Why We Weren’t Generating Leads from Content Marketing

People were reading the blog, then bouncing.

I wasn’t turning those readers into leads, because I had no reason to ask for their contact information.

So, I started a newsletter.

I collected the names and emails of subscribers.

And I began offering a free download of articles—in exchange for the reader’s email address.

For every few hundred people who read our articles, we received a few dozen leads.

It was working—we weren’t getting empty traffic anymore.

So we started offering downloadable resources: checklists, a free email course, and templates.

We were creating lead magnets—and that is what generated leads from our content marketing.

What is a Lead Magnet?

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A vital step in a sales funnel is to convert a prospect into a lead.

A lead magnet attracts prospects, like metal to a magnet.

By offering readers something for free, you create a proposal few can refuse.

However, you have to offer something they want. Something valuable.

But they have to give you something in exchange: their email address.

Both parties win.

Here’s the definition of a lead magnet from our blog post of the 10 best lead magnet examples:

A lead magnet is an offer (usually free) dedicated to giving your website visitor some relevant values in exchange for their contact information (at the very least, an email address).

Think of a lead magnet like a little salesman within your funnel, ushering people from the street into your store.

They’re more likely to come in if there’s someone outside offering them a freebie.

What’s the Purpose of a Lead Magnet?

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A lead magnet’s purpose is two-fold.

First, it collects a prospect’s contact information.

Most people won’t freely volunteer their contact information. But, if they get something in return, they’ll gladly hand it over.

Quid pro quo.

According to Bounce Exchange, 70–96% of unsatisfied visitors won’t return to your site.

And that means you might have lost the chance to earn their business forever.

With a lead magnet, you can prevent that from being your fate.

Second, a lead magnet—specifically one in a well-constructed sales funnel—should create a relationship with your customer.

As Peep Lanja of ConversionXL explains, more than 95% of your visitors won’t buy anything on their first visit.

A lead magnet encourages them to take that next step—to begin forming a relationship with your company.

You’re warming up a lead until they’re ready to buy.

Now you may be wondering, what can you give your audience as a lead magnet?

Let’s talk about the lead magnets that get opt-ins.

Types of Lead Magnets to Offer Your Visitors

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Different lead magnets make sense at different points in your funnel.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Newsletter—this makes sense as a lead magnet only if you continually publish content in your newsletter that your audience will find valuable.
  • Case Study—offering your audience exclusive access to a compelling case study is a great way to gain their trust. You also want to ask for more information from the prospect, (email address and phone number) because someone interested in a case study is interested in your service.Note: It’s a good offer if you’re in an industry where viewers are interested in how to accomplish something step-by-step. Two examples are marketing (“How we grew our email list to 100,000 subscribers over 5 months”) or health and fitness (“How Jane lost 75 pounds using X in only X months: the tips, recipes, and day-by-day breakdown”)
  • Template or Checklist Resource—we use this a lot at AutoGrow. A “checklist” is an easy lead magnet to brainstorm for any business. It’s simple and actionable.
  • eBook—perhaps the most used of all lead magnets, you’re giving prospects a highly valuable chunk of information. The difficult part is coming up with a subject that appeals to your audience.
  • Multi-day Email Course—we’ve also used this as a lead magnet at AutoGrow with the ‘Double Your Leads’ email course. This is a great way to prime your audience to open your emails, too, if you use email marketing.
  • Demo Video—if you have an interesting service, why not use a demonstration video as a lead magnet? Simply ask interested viewers for their email address in order to watch it. You can apply that tactic to your pricing information, too.
  • Webinar—another popular lead magnet. The reason is simple: like the eBook, it’s highly valuable information people will opt-in to see.

But your biggest consideration when choosing a lead magnet is, what aligns with my audience’s needs and relates to what I want to sell them?

Remember, unless your lead magnet is beneficial to your audience, they won’t opt-in.

Two Examples of Lead Magnets in Action

The following are two lead magnets that work for my company, AutoGrow.

For each, I’ll also explain why I chose it for our audience:

  1. Pop-Up Swipe File Lead Magnet from AutoGrow

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This lead magnet works, because:

  • Our audience likes examples that act as templates—this is something we know they already want (and find value in).
  • It contains specific numbers—‘25 examples’ is specific and clear, and it’s a substantial amount of information. The number ‘1,000,000’ provides social proof and makes opting in more compelling.

2. Lead Magnet Article with Free Download from AutoGrow

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We publish a lot of content.

Often when we have a longer post, we offer our audience a downloadable version.

It’s a simple way we’ve turned regular blog content into mini lead magnets.

Both of these lead magnets work for our audience.

Actually, they have become our primary methods of lead generation.

Cool, right?

How Do You Create a Lead Magnet?

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I hope this has been an ‘aha’ moment in your quest for online leads.

Now you know a lead magnet is the first step to creating a relationship with visitors on your website.

If you want online sales, you need leads.

And if you want leads, you need a lead magnet.

With one in place, you can “catch” some of the traffic that leaves your website without buying.

That way, you can collect leads on autopilot.

It starts with designing a great lead magnet—think about what kind of irresistible content you can give your audience.

If you want to save time and get your lead magnet set up quickly, we can help.

We not only offer expert strategic guidance to define a lead magnet that fits your industry and funnel.

We’ll give you the tools to create your masterpiece: headlines, templates, and feedback throughout the process.

And when you decide on the perfect lead magnet, we will set you up with an opt-in and a landing page for it 🙂

We’re passionate about lead magnets, so that’s just one option for you.

If you’re creating one yourself, start brainstorming ideas and decide which ‘type’ of lead magnet you want.

But don’t put it off—it could get you hundreds of leads every month.

Do you already have a lead magnet for your business? Why or why not?

Let me know in the comments.

Stay Focused, Keep Hustlin’,

—Matt

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