It’s a common enough worry with many solopreneurs in content marketing if their lead magnets are working hard enough. There could be a lot of different reasons why your lead magnet is not really attracting optins from potential subscribers.
What is a lead magnet? A lead magnet is usually an attractive freebie offered to elicit the email addresses for potential “leads” (casual visitors to your site who may convert into buyers). In a sense, a lead magnet is a sort of “ethical bribe” in return for an email address – and for getting the permission of a person to keep in touch with him by email. The lead magnet could be an e-book, an e-course, or a pdf document. The format doesn’t matter, so long as it’s easily and instantly downloadable. The content and the title must beckon.
The answer you’re looking for:
There are three clues to look for in failing lead magnets: Have you chosen the right lead magnet topic that can take people towards purchase of your product? Are the right people opting in (or are you attracting the wrong audience)? Are subscribers opting in, taking the lead magnet and then unsubscribing and dropping away? All these three factors have to be in place!
But read on for the full picture …
What is a lead magnet really – and what is the magnetic part of it that helps attract people?
Let’s first look at lead magnets per se …
The whole idea of a lead magnet is to capture some way to keep in touch with people who make one visit to your site and then forget you and never return. How do you keep in touch with them, and keep their interest in your site alive? How do you inform them of new articles added to your site that can help them? How do you stay in touch, and grow their relationship with you? Most people who visit sites for some timely information, may well forget the site they visited, unless there were a way to keep in touch at a regular frequency.
On the other hand, from a marketer’s perspective, it is often said that a “prospect” (a casually interested person) may take up to 7 touches of contact with a vendor, before being able to trust him enough to do business with him. People like doing business with other people they know and trust. And it takes time and frequent contact of a positive nature to build trust. In the older days, about 7 touches of contact were said to work well, to bring more people over to your side, to become your regular fans and followers. These days, with competition being so high online, and the consumer being more hardened against approaches by marketers, it takes even more time (maybe up to 12-14 touches of contact) to win the trust of people.
Trust is also a very delicate issue. It takes time to build – and for it to be built steadily you have to be very consistent and stick by your promises and words. You have to comes across as honest, credible and authentic. You have to be seen as interested in caring about your prospects and leads, and wanting to share information of value with them. You also have to convey a giving attitude, without seeming to ask for something back.
With a lead magnet, it’s essential to avoid looking like you are desperate to grab a person’s email address for your own gain. It has to sound like a free worthwhile gift you are offering a person as an ice-breaker to make friends – and then you hope to get their email address so you can continue to build a relationship with them, and send them more free and valuable information by email. That is how the tone and tenor of your lead magnet offer should sound.
While the immediate goal of a lead magnet may be to get email subscribers, you’ll find that only so many people will like your content offer and subscribe to your list in order to receive emails from you. A lot of people may simply read a bit and then leave. Most solopreneurs who begin business, begin on the assumption that a large portion of visitors may like to sign up for the lead magnet. In fact, that is the first mistake we make, because we cannot, and should not, expect a “large fraction” of visitors to sign up. We should probably expect some 2-5 people out of every 100 or so visitors may sign up. If we are erroneous about these numbers, it’s better to err on the side of caution than have unrealistic expectations.
Because you are giving away the lead magnet for free, it’s important that it should cost you little in terms of financial outlay, even if takes up your time and effort to create the lead magnet. If you can’t write yourself, your cost will be just the fees for a freelance writer. This is why ebooks, e-courses and other forms of downloadables are the natural choice for most marketers, because e-products are instant gratification for the subscriber, as well as low-cost to the marketer.
There are several different types of leads magnets that are commonly used:
- Coupons or Discounts
- Video Series
- Case Studies
- Downloadable Blog Posts
- Email Series
- Educational Courses
- Free Software, Tools or Trials
Let’s now look at evergreen lead magnets …
People often ask what exactly the “magnetic” part of a lead magnet is. That’s a very good question, because many marketers find that after people have read a lead magnet the lead magnets seldom have any retentive value. A “stickier” than usual kind of lead magnet is said to be an “evergreen lead magnet”. In other words, an evergreen lead magnet is a piece of valuable content that (1) offers immediate value to the user, (2) invites repeated usage, and (3) is regularly updated to ensure it’s the most up-to-date resource it can be.
In the old days of advertising, for instance, a number of ad agencies used to give their clients some very exclusive art calendars, because they figured that a calendar would be put to use every day for 365 days, and thus be in the eye-view and memory of the user. An evergreen magnet is based on a similar principle, although its now done in a more sophisticated way than by presenting a yearly calendar.
A great example of an evergreen lead magnet is this one below that offers a free guide for runners, not just to read once and follow what’s written, and to get into shape, but it also comes with daily and weekly email motivational tips to keep you at your running program. Now think how often a person would be in touch with the lead magnet (every day!), to get the most out of this combined free-ebook-cum-email-motivation program.
Image courtesy: SleekNote
What goal is your lead magnet supposed to achieve for you? Or have you set no goals?
There are two things your lead magnet should do for your business … one, it should attract the right people, and two, it should prime those people towards eventual purchases from you. If your lead magnet fails at either of these goals, it a failure. Period. Let’s take thse two cases, one by one …
Can your lead magnet attract the right people? What you want is not just more subscribers, you want more TARGETED subscribers who perfectly first your business’ audience profile. So if, for example, you are making running shoes for marathon runners, you don’t want those who wear sports shoes for fashion. You want serious runners with goals to win marathons, who know a thing or two about long-distance running footwear. So you may decide to create a lead magnet on how to run a marathon better with the right shoes contributing to your success. Right? That’s a possible idea, yes. But wait and think through that idea again … because we now come to the second factor your lead magnet has to achieve for you …
Can your lead magnet prime people towards eventual purchases from you? Ask yourself: if you were trying to sell these marathon shoes, should you create a step-by-step guide to running a better marathon (where the shoes are incidental to the process), or should you rather be creating a step-by-step guide on how to buy the perfect marathon shoes? If you were a marathon training coach, you may perhaps like to focus on a lead magnet that shows how to run a marathon better (and incidentally mentions the idea of good marathon shoes). But if you were selling marathon shoes, would it not be better to educate marathoners on smarter ways of purchasing the right shoes? Do you see this vital difference? Your lead magnet has to be of value to the target audience, surely, but it also has to help with leading a potential customer towards a final purchase from you. So it had better do its job, by directly nailing the “purchase-process issue” rather than indirectly hinting at purchase of the right shoes, by nailing a “marathon running issue”.
While offering a lead magnet, remember, you also have to make clear the actions the person needs to take to get the lead magnet (e.g. fill the form, get an email with a link, verify the link, get a second email with download link, claim the download etc.) … so there’s no ambiguity on how it all works.
Who is your lead magnet attracting? Are you covering all bases?
Obviously, it’s very difficult, as a content marketer, to gauge exactly at which stage of awareness a potential consumer is at, when he hits your blog or website. That’s why it’s important to do a double-check if your lead magnet idea can cover all the important stages of target audience awareness, or at least come close to doing so …
Visitors to websites and blogs largely fall into one of these four categories:
Visitors could be at the unaware stage. This is the broadest category of people. They may have a problem that you can solve, but they could be unaware that they have a problem, till they see a mention of it on your site. Therefore they may not think it’s an urgent problem to solve. They may also not understand that there is a solution available, or exactly what kind of solution would be a possible right one. To such people you have to be willing to be an “educator” of the problem and its contours, before the visitors are ready to consider solving the problems.
Visitors could be at the problem aware stage. This is usually the best place to capture people with lead magnets when you’re looking to collect leads. They know they have a problem, and they may have arrived at your site in the process of looking for a way to solve it. You therefore don’t need to educate such people on the contours of their problem, you’ll have to be an “ideas-giver” showing them more about the array of possible solutions and how to judge the right solution for their specific problem.
Visitors could be at the solution aware stage. There could be site visitors who already understand that there is a solution to their problems, and they may be in the process of doing comparison shopping for the best solution providers. For such people, you have to be very careful – because in sounding too pushy to “sell yourself” as the best solution provider, you may actually turn them away through an aggressiveness level they don’t want to have to deal with. You have to be a “decision-facilitator” to be able to subtly guide visitors into hardening their decisions to choose you.
Visitors could be at the aware-of-you stage. If someone comes to you through a referral, they may actually be almost ready to buy from you, and they could be looking for that one final justification that you are the right solution-provider for them. You need to convince them that their referrer was right, and you have to show them that you are a “relationship-valuer” and not a “sales-number-valuer”.
Can one lead magnet do all these four jobs to cater to all these four levels of visitors you may receive? It depends on how you decide to handle the creation and delivery of your lead magnets. If you know which target audience level is the most covetable and profitable for you to convert and retain as loyal customers, you may choose to cater strongly to visitors of that awareness level alone. On the other hand, if you’re not sure, and you want to be able to cover all four levels of visitors, you can try a “customizable lead magnet” idea.
More and more these days, the lead magnets that succeed are those that are customizable … and the ones that fail are the one-size-fits-all kind of lead magnets. If your lead magnet is an ebook or e-course, for example, you can either split it up into a set of four booklets of which visitors may choose one or two … or you could allow people to choose the level of the e-course they want to receive (e.g. beginners, intermediate or advanced). Lead magnets are far less effective when they are not customizable. The more they resonate with audiences, the more easy it is for you to retain subscribers on your mailing list. You should, therefore, think innovatively of how you can allow people to select what they want from what you offer.
5 situations when lead magnets don’t perform, and actually erode your brand.
Among the most-quoted reasons why lead magnets fail are these 5 problems. All these five points relate to how your brand projects itself via the lead magnet and its performance. In the attempt to capture leads, its important not to let your brand get eroded by poor standards of quality in the lead magnet and its offering. Be extra careful when creating your lead magnet to avoid these mistakes, that can both rob the value of the lead magnet to visitors, and also sabotage your brand.
Making wild promises in the title of the lead magnet that your lead magnet cannot live up to. It can be very tempting to go to town on the title of your lead magnet (your ebook cover or your e-course name) just to make the offering “impossible to resist”. How often have we seen titles like “Create $500,000 revenue from a startup costs of just $50 – it’s all in here”. Or there are titles that say “Over 500 hacks to get your emails opened and clicked on”. Well, the truth is that the more exaggerated the title, the more skeptical your readers will be. Tall claims are the very anti-thesis of authenticity. It isn’t as if another 100,000 visitors are going to download the ebook because it promises $500,000 instead of $5,000, right? Think of how the title of your offering can affect the credibility of your brand. Don’t offer “achievement” guarantees, offer “crucial or rare knowledge”.
Weak content in the lead magnet that looks like several freelance writers have written different parts of it. This is a more common mistake than many people realize. Most often bloggers feel up to writing a blog post or two, but to write a whole ebook may feel daunting – and so a lot of lead magnets are created by outsourced freelance writers. To build the product faster, many bloggers are also tempted to give the job out to three or four freelancers to write three chapters each. And before you know it, you have a book that betrays this multiple-personality disorder! Again, think of how your brand will be reflected by such a poor strategy. Is speed of production of the lead magnet more important than its polish and class?
Fake testimonials in the lead magnet to try and create artificial proof of the validity of your brand. A lot of ebooks and courses like to wear good testimonials so that downloaders and readers will get a feeling that the offering is well-endorsed. But there are also a number of ebooks that carry fake testimonials. Very often you come across images of people with fancy names and designations, that you feel you have seen somewhere in Shutterstock. Or the language of all the testimonials are all so alike that it smacks of debauchery. It’s better to have no testimonials than to fake it all. If you must get testimonials, give your ebook to a few well-chosen influencers for a pre-read and ask them to give their feedback. Most will be charitable enough to give you some good words if you have taken the trouble to write the ebook well.
Poorly designed graphics showing carelessness in the creation of the lead magnet and eroding its value. If you aren’t a good designer, get the ebook cover or e-course logo designed professionally because the lead magnet has to make a good first impression. Though people say “Don’t judge a book by its cover”, unfortunately a lot of people do. Let the shabbiness of the cover design not hide a truly valuable piece of work inside.
A sign up form that does not work properly to capture emails or deliver the lead magnet without technical glitches. You have a great lead magnet but then your optin form has coding glitches and doesn’t work. The person opting in gets no confirmatory emails or a thank you page. And the item doesn’t download. It’s all technology folks, and the same technology that makes “downloads” sound easy-peasy can go horribly wrong and shatter the carefully manicured brand image your website and lead magnet seek to create and preserve. The way to solve such setbacks is to always have two methods to download the lead magnet – one from an email that goes to the subscriber and another download link on the thank you page of your site. That way one of the methods will at least hopefully work. People expect systems to work and don’t give you the opportunity to apologize profusely for the failure to have backups for screw-ups!
So what are your thoughts on this topic? Do share!
This post is incomplete without your input. The community of aspiring digital solopreneurs would feel galvanized to hear from you … so do share your thoughts on this topic with us in the comments field below this post.