How to Create High-Converting Lead Magnets

by Devan Ciccarelli

Free samples are supposed to attract people from your target audience to your brand, but sometimes they’re so worthless they actually do the opposite.

So what if I told you that there was a way to provide a “free sample” to your audience that was so valuable to them that they instantly converted to customers?

You’d probably be a bit skeptical of this magical free sample and I can totally understand that.

But the truth is, this awesome concept is an attainable reality entirely because of lead magnets.

Unlike free samples that often go unused, lead magnets provide your potential customers with something they actually want. Giving quality content to non-paying audience members is the direct route to gaining paying customers.

Today we’re going to spend our time discussing what a lead magnet is and how to create one that converts readers every single time.

Bonus: We’ll help you get started on your lead magnet with this free checklist. Click the button to have every step outlined in a printable checklist for you.

What is a Lead Magnet Anyway?

Before we dive in, it’s important to understand what a lead magnet is and why you should even bother creating one in the first place.

On the surface, a lead magnet is like giving potential customers a gift for free. You’ll create the gift and give it to your audience without receiving monetary payment for it. But that doesn’t mean it’s entirely free.

You’ll ask for something almost as valuable as a sale in return for that gift: an email address.

Now, an email address probably doesn’t sound as alluring as a monetary sale, but if you’re working hard to capture email addresses these days, you know the struggle all too well. Users just aren’t as willing to hand them over as they used to be.

Email addresses are high-quality leads, but you won’t get them unless you provide your audience with something of value.

Once you have an email address, it’s like striking gold—you’ll have someone who’s already interested in what you have to offer. Talk about having a targeted audience.

Okay, back to lead magnets.

When these bad boys are done correctly—which we’ll show you how to do—you’ll build trust and establish yourself as an authority who knows what they’re doing.

In the eyes of your customer, these two key ingredients play a huge role in determining if you can in fact help them.

We’ve seen such great success with lead magnets here at Audience Ops that we decided to show you exactly how to create your very own.

How to Incorporate Lead Magnets into Your Content Marketing Plan

Lead magnets come in all different shapes and sizes.

You can create ones as small as a Content Upgrade, which is essentially a bonus resource that comes with every article but is unique to each one, or they can be as large as an e-book or even an email course.

Here at Audience Ops, we like to focus our time on creating both email courses and Content Upgrades for clients since we’ve seen the best results with these.

Now, incorporating these two lead magnets into your content marketing strategy is probably the easiest part of this whole project.

Create Content Upgrades to accompany each of your articles and use plugins such as this one (yes, we created our own—check it out!) so users can actually access the free resource.

Another way to incorporate lead magnets is via pop ups or opt-in boxes. Here is an example of what ours look like at AO:

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The little black box in the bottom right hand corner pops up whenever someone lands on our site.

If someone enters their email address, they’ll receive a free email course on “How to Get a ROI from Content Marketing without Letting the Content Treadmill Burn Out Your Team.”

It’s literally that easy. You just learned two of the simplest and most effective ways to incorporate lead magnets into your content marketing strategy.

Now that we have the fundamentals down, let’s take a look at how to create a high-converting lead magnet.

How to Create a High-Converting Lead Magnet

Step 1: Focus on Your Customers’ Problems

The number one rule you want to keep in mind for both business and content marketing: If you can solve your customers’ problems or biggest struggles, they’ll have no trouble handing over their business, or email address in our case.

So your first step is to identify the biggest problems your customers are facing.

You can do this using surveys, checking out related forums, or even reading some of the comments your readers leave on your articles or email to you.

The idea is to find out what’s really holding your readers back from achieving their goals. So the more you hear directly from them, the better.

When you think about creating a Content Upgrade, think in terms of How can I give readers something to take with them so they easily implement what we talked about in today’s article?

Following this route shows your audience that you’re willing to help and support them without asking for too much in return.

Step 2: Brainstorm Ways to Solve Their Problems

You’ll want to sit down and think about how you can solve your customers’ biggest obstacles.

Depending on your audience and the complexity of the topic you’ve selected, you’ll need to decide how best to share what you know.

If there’s a lot of information, a quick one-page resource may not help readers solve their problem, especially if the instructions are also condensed. So it might make sense to create an email course that includes a series of shorter lessons.

Or maybe your readers are strapped for time and looking for a quick fix. In that case, a Content Upgrade might be more helpful.

Brainstorm the best ways to provide the answers your audience is looking for in the form they’re most likely to respond to. Test out several methods if you’re unsure what will work and see how they compare.

Step 3: Create Your Outline

Before you begin writing anything, you should always start off with an outline. Luckily, this is also especially useful for creating a lead magnet.

An outline will help you work out all the kinks before you begin writing. Plus, having this skeleton laid out also makes it much easier to get going when it comes time to write.

Once your outline is all set, focus on creating the actual lead magnet.

This is where you’ll provide as much value to your readers as you can. It’s important not to look at it from the standpoint of giving away the house for free, but instead as helping your audience. In return, they’ll help you by becoming a loyal reader and lifelong customer.

One last point here.

As you write, try to use easy-to-understand terms and avoid the technical jargon. Save that stuff for a later conversation. For now, just create something that almost anyone can read and understand even if they don’t have a degree in your field.

Step 4: Add a Professional Design

Using the colors and components of your branding, create a cohesive, polished, and professional-looking design.

This means you may need to call in an expert if graphic design is not your specialty.

Remember, you only get one chance to make a good first impression of your brand for potential customers. You don’t want to lose your customer over shoddy, rushed work.

Step 5: Set Up Your Lead Magnet for Success

After you’ve finalized the actual lead magnet itself, you’ll want to set it up so that it’s visible and easy for users to access.

With our Content Upgrades, users just click a button and a pop-up window appears. From there, they just add their email address and they’re done.

Here’s what it looks like in two steps:

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You can see that we added a short teaser that explains what people can expect when they click the bright green button. When they do click it, we explain in a bit more detail what they’re signing up for.

It’s essential that you spend time creating an informative teaser that outlines precisely what users will receive in exchange for their email address (i.e., show them the benefits!).

This step is crucial because if you can’t get readers to sign up from here, they won’t be able to see all of your hard work in the lead magnet. And that means they won’t progress further into your sales funnel.

Now that you know all about lead magnets, it’s time to create one of your very own!

Start by identifying the specific problems your current customers are facing or have faced and brainstorm the best ways to solve them for future customers.

Try to provide as much value as you can and don’t worry about giving away the house. If your lead magnet is truly helpful, people will still want to use your services even if they know the recipe to the secret sauce.

Don’t forget to make your lead magnet both visually appealing and easily accessible to make a good—often first—impression on your customers.

Once you’ve tackled these five steps, you’ll have a high-converting lead magnet in no time.

Bonus: Before you get started, download this free checklist so you don’t forget anything important. We’ll show you the exact steps to take.