Ah, the sales funnel. We are all obsessed with it. We read, write, and argue about the best ways to go from the initial marketing phase to the final conversion. Yet, we too often ignore what could be the most important step: getting people INTO the funnel to begin with.
Lead generation is not just a savvy buzzword, and neither is "lead magnet". If you want sales, you have to be able to hook in the customers, and get their information. What good is a singular sale if you won't be able to make them repeat buyers? That is where we move away from the funnel analogy, and into the sales spiral. We want them to go through each phase, and end up back at the beginning to go through it again in the future.
The Lead Magnet of Today, Not Yesterday
When you are thinking of ways to get contact info from your audience base, a lead magnet becomes the only way that consistently delivers. But what qualifies? It used to be a physical hook, such as a free gift. Now that method is starting to wear a bit thin. People expect more, and they can't be bought with a "$29.99 value absolutely free!" gimmick, like they might have ten years ago.
Conversions now run on content and services, specifically those based 100% online. The trick is to make them exclusively offered by providing basic contact details (name and email address... skip the more invasive questions).
These are the forms that make the biggest splash:
A book is always going to be highly valuable on the content scale. It is full of information, easily accessible, and available in multiple formats. People like ebooks, and they will usually download one if you give it away for free.
One mistake is made a lot by content creators, however: the ebook is way too long. It might seem like a great idea to write the most comprehensive, 400+ page work on a specific topic. But no one is going to want to read that, even if they do download it.
Lead magnets need to be shorter, to the point, and easy to digest. Make sure you have a workable table of contents, including active links to chapters. Keep the format easy on the eyes, on the content simple to skim through.
A newer form of an ebook is a flip book, that is a interactive book that looks nice and provides a smooth user experience, especially when viewed on an iPad. Creating a flip book is really easy with a tool called Flipsnack
Just upload your PDF file and go through easy steps to set things up: You'll end up with a neat flip book which you can also embed on your web page. It's a cool idea to re-purpose your company brochures and catalogs that way!
Webinars used to be a serious chore to make, and took a lot of energy. With video technology having jumped leaps and bounds ahead in the past couple of years, anyone with a basic high resolution camera, or a screen capture software can make them with no real fuss. Even editing is easier now.
People love webinars because they are a visual teaching tool. They show the audience exactly what they need to know, step by step, in a way that makes them feel connected to the educator. They will scramble to sign up for one if you publish it, and you can offer sign ups both for real time webinars, and after the fact viewing of those same sessions.
Selling through free webinars has been the most successful marketing tactic over the past years. If you are looking for a good webinar platform, Kristi Hines has done a great comparison:
White Papers and Case Studies
Because they are dry and often technical, this lead magnet only attracts those who are within an industry, and so likely to both be interested, and understand the material. So if you are writing for a more casual audience you will want to skip it.
However, if you are writing for an industry of professionals within the genre, it is a great way to offer solid information that they find incredibly valuable. Case studies in particular gain a lot of traction, and stats end up quoted regularly from very reliable, high traffic sites. That has obvious benefits for those looking to increase visibility (which would be all of us). We have created the whole page to publish our whitepapers and case studies and it has been a great success for both existing customers and new leads:
Infographics are a little better if you are reaching that more casual group of visitors. It is a visually appealing, quickfire way to present information so that it sticks in the mind of the reader. It is also three times more likely to be shared on social media according to just about every study done on the content in the last five years. In other words, people love infographics, and they love sharing infographics.
Don't worry if you haven't got the graphic arts degree to show you how to make one of these visual wonders. There is an endless list of infographic generators that allow you to click and drag, add in clipart, customize, and even make an infographic interactive. Some of those include Canva, Piktochart, and Venngage.
Always make sure to publish infographics on your site first and only then promote them elsewhere. Here's a good example of one page being a consolidation of all infographics:
The last lead magnet that really converts is a free tool. This is creating some kind of self-use service that requires an email to access. Calculators, speed testers, A/B website testers... any number of items that fit into your industry can be used. You could even create a whole host of tools on your site, and give them away for nothing but the cost of an email address.
I am always astonished by how infrequently tools are used as lead magnets. Most sites will provide tools to help hook customers, sure. But those same people end up using the tool, never signing up to a premium service or buying a product, and then very little comes from it for the creator. All they would have needed was a single landing page that asks for an email address, and they would have the best possible marketing tool possible.
Have I missed a good lead magnet? Share in the comments?
Don't make that mistake. These lead magnets are a surefire way to up the ante, and get those leads you so badly crave. Best of all, they will second as a marketing draw for traffic, social media shares, and more. It is a well rounded way of getting more from your content.
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* Adapted lead image: Public Domain, pixabay.com via getstencil.com