Lead magnets are a popular way of attracting interest in your company; but before we discover why they’re great and indeed what they are, we need to talk a little about email marketing.

The Benefits of Email Marketing

Email marketing (sending promotional email out en masse to a group of interested parties) has seen a resurgence lately, so growing your subscriber list is of paramount importance to businesses within today’s internet landscape.

Sending bulk promotional email is no longer the stigmatised pursuit that it used to be, chiefly due to stricter rules about how people must now collect and disseminate emails. [EDIT: February 2018] May 2018 will see the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) come into force, which gives consumers more control over the information that companies hold on them, how those companies collect consumer data, and how they use that data for marketing and analysis. The most relevant rule here is that people need to give explicit permission to receive marketing materials, including by email. Therefore contacting lists of random people or companies without their permission could result in rather hefty fines.

Email marketing is an effective and convenient way of sending out marketing materials. The main benefit is that you have more “ownership” over an email list than you do your social media followers. If you have a large following on a particular social network and the company that owns the site folds overnight – poof! Those followers are scattered to the winds. However, email is much more decentralised – no one organisation “owns” the concept of email, and it’s a much more established medium. There’s also the fact that when you’re scrolling down a social feed, there’s always the lure of the next post pulling you along. Though there are some similarities between a bustling social feed and a full inbox, people are generally more likely to spend longer with email, with some users poring over everything that comes in.

However, asking people to share their email addresses on the proviso that they’ll just receive email updates at some nebulous time in the future is no longer enough for some people – they want to see benefits now! This is why “lead magnets” are becoming more and more common.

What is a Lead Magnet?

Lead magnets are a free resource provided instantly through online channels in exchange for the reader’s email address and maybe a few other details (such as their name and the industry they’re in). The lead magnet itself can be any kind of content that can be instantly provided online, such as a brief ebook, video, checklist, or access to a course or email series. This kind of content is sometimes called “gated” content, because you effectively have to “pay your toll at the gate” (your email address) to get to it.

You’ve probably been on a number of sites that display popups offering a tempting ebook, tool or access to something useful in exchange for your email address. This is a lead magnet in action.

Lead magnets work because they provide an instant takeaway which incentivises the action of providing an email address. It’s a win-win situation – the reader gets the free tool and the site’s owner gets another willing and qualified email subscriber; one that’s interested in what what the site is offering and has agreed to receiving marketing email.

Why are they called “Lead Magnets”?

The definition of a “lead” (pronounced like a dog on a lead, not lead in a pencil) is a prospective customer who has expressed interest in what you offer. Therefore a lead magnet is something that attracts leads to you, by providing an incentive to sign up. It encourages people to get on your radar by giving something back.

How do I implement a Lead Magnet?

Before you go ahead with deciding to provide lead magnets (and yes, you can have more than one), you must always check that your website has the right functionality. If your site is hosted using a service like WordPress, there are a number of plugins that will allow you to collect email addresses and provide your lead magnet. You will most likely also benefit from providing a “landing page” for your content. This is a page on your website specifically for the purpose of persuading people to download the resource with a means of collecting their email address and pointing them to the lead magnet. Most email marketing tools like MailChimp and MailerLite will allow the automatic adding of email addresses after minimal setup.

You will also need hosting for your lead magnet. This may differ depending on the type of content you want to deliver. You can provide links to unlisted/private YouTube videos, host the content on your own site (which may slow down your site if the lead magnet becomes popular), or use an external hosting service like Amazon’s S3.

Designing and editing your resource is next. There are a number of free graphic and video editing tools available for free online (Canva is a personal favourite of mine for visuals). However, I wouldn’t feel right without suggesting you seek out the services of a fellow freelancer for whatever graphical aspects you require.

Once you’ve got your lead magnet set up, don’t forget to promote it! Social media is always the first place to advertise these things, so get linking to that landing page. If you are au fait with PPC advertising or any other paid advertising streams, you may want to try a few campaigns just to get news of your resource out there.

Yes, lead magnets can be a lot of work, but they can collect new prospective customers while you work on other things.

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Interested in attracting new prospects with a lead magnet of your own?

If you are interested in offering an ebook lead magnet on your website, I’ve got good news for you. Obsidian now provide lead magnet ebook writing services, which covers any document length up to 3,500 words for the purposes of lead generation.

You can get more information over on my content marketing services page, or get in touch for a friendly chat. All quotes are free and without obligation.